For Ferrum, their defense, while not as blessed statistically, did show a lot of heart and character this season.
Willie Taylor was the tackles leader this season with 55. (33 solo, and 44 assists) with his best game coming against Southern Virginia University. Second in that category was Safety Tae Motley.
This year, Ferrum had 8 interceptions. Marco McNeal had 3 of the 8, and led in this category. The longest interception return was 32 yards by McNeal.
In the statistic of fumble recoveries, Ferrum had 8 recoveries, and Cedric Hargrove led with two of these. Cedric also had one pass interception this season. Of these recoveries, the longest was by Tevin Handley. This recovery was taken 24 yards "to the house" against Shenandoah.
Sacks were led by Willie Taylor as he was a part of 6.5 sacks, accounting for 46 yards lost by the opponents.
In the kickoff return department, Ferrum had 37 returns, and of those, Dominique Lesine led with 12 for 304 yards. Steven Harris had the longest return. 93 yards for a score against Shenandoah.
Punt Returns were led by Marcus Mayo. Mayo returned 25 punts for 455 yards. Of those, 3 were for touchdowns. Mayo finished 3rd in the nation in this category. Interestingly enough, he was only second in the conference, as Kentel Noel from CNU led the nation.
Field Goals were an area that Ferrum struggled this year. Scott Puschell was not as consistent as anticipated, but he did tie the longest field goal record of 47 yards against Emory and Henry. I look for Scott to have a much improved year in 2011.
Kickoffs were handled this year by freshman Wesley Franklin. While it is difficult to find a statistical ranking for kickoffs, Wesley averaged 50.8 yards per kickoff. The average starting point for the opponents was the 36 yard line, and while this may not be at the top of the charts, it compared well with his opponents. Wesley improved greatly as the year went on, and I would expect this trend to continue next year.
T.J. Grzesikowski again handled the punting duties for the Panthers. T. J. finished first in the conference with an average of 42.4 yards per punt, and this placed him 4th in the nation. More to come on T. J. in a future article.
So on the defensive side of the ball, as with special teams, there were a lot of bright spots. Next year the defense will look a lot different, especially up front, but expect the black hats to play Ferrum football. They will will be aggressive, tenacious, and leave a mark on whoever gets in their way.