I have not talked with Coach Harper since he was named head coach. I am hopeful to talk with him in the near future, but he is likely on the road recruiting. With recruiting being on the front burner in every coaches mind, I am trying to figure what direction Ferrum will go with their approach to recruiting, and their approach to the 2011 season.
I feel that the priorities will be size and strength along the line of scrimmage, especially the defensive side. While there are players who are returning with really good size, I am looking for Ferrum to refocus not only on having size and strength, but also on desire. Look for the Panthers to not only emphasize technique, but to also focus the players on becoming a cohesive unit with an all for one, and one for all mentality.
The old saying is "Defense wins championships" and this is where the emphasis needs to be. From front to back. From the line to the safeties. Not necessarily to replace those returning, but to work on technique and strength as well as speed and mental approach. The offense should be fairly consistent, but there is need to also beef up the line when possible. Again, strength and speed will be the focus, along with understanding assignments, and technique.
Scheduling is an area that I have mentioned before, and, at the risk of being repetitive, I will bring it up again. As the schedule stands now, there are three non conference games that Ferrum plays. For the past several years, Ferrum has played Southern Virginia University. I would like to see this game replaced with another game with an NCAA team, that is in the same region as Ferrum. SVU is an NAIA team, and therefore this game does not lend any assistance to Ferrum when it comes to the Regional rankings. Regional rankings have several criteria, but games against teams in your own region would likely influence your ranking. So who could they play? I would suggest that they try to pick up at the least, a game against a contending ODAC team. If that could not be arranged, I would look for a game against a nationally contending program like Wesley (DE). The better your competition, the better you can become. If that could not be arranged, Ferrum could consider scheduling a DII school like Chowan, or any CIAA school.
Finally, I would like to see a Re- Branding of Ferrum football. This is something that would be like a marketing campaign, and should be approached from many levels. Alumni involvement, re-focusing the local community toward Ferrum football, and efforts to bring more attention to the program through local media.
I look forward to Coach Harper's reign as head coach- I am confident that he will steer Ferrum football back to a level of excellence, back to being thought of as a contender....for the conference and beyond.