Thursday, February 3, 2011

How will the Panthers stack up?

In looking down the road to the 2011 season, I am really excited. While there are areas that Ferrum needs to focus on, I see this year as possibly being the best since 2005. Don't get me wrong, I am not declaring them the USA South champions, not yet anyway, but I do see them as a major force in the conference.

While yesterday was national signing day for the major colleges, Division III schools cannot get a guarantee from a prospective athlete. A DIII coach does not have the luxury of a commitment from the players. In the small college world, you may recruit players, but there are no real certainties until the room deposit is received.
With this in mind, I cannot comment about the Panthers recruiting efforts, but am still quite pumped up about the potential for the projected returning athletes.

Marcus Mayo  USA South Offensive player of the year.
Tyler Brubaker

Running Backs-
Roger Smith- Averaged 6.1 yards per carry last season. 2nd leading rusher on the team.
Steven Harris-Averaged 5.5 yards per carry
Justine Donnelly-Likely to assume full time duties at fullback
Dominique Lesine- Played in all 10 games. Averaged 5.5 yards per carry as a Freshman
Claude Johnson
Plus 6 other returning backs that saw action last year.


Derrick West- Averaged 18.8 yards per catch, and had 7 receiving touchdowns.
Tyler Brubaker- Averaged 22.1 yards per catch.
Makaya Jackson- Did not play in 2010. Led all receivers in 2009

Tight End-
No information on this position at this time.

Offensive Line (Projected Starters)-

Jack McDowell- 6'0" 275. USA South All conference first team 2010
Michael Walker-5'7" 265. Did not play in 2010 due to injury
Tyler Gilley- 6'2" 250
Zach Bossio- 5' 10" 242
Cam Bailey-6'3" 304

Defensive Line-

Shawn Winfrey 6'0" 289  Only returning starter from 2010

This unit was the harshly affected by graduation. There are a variety of returning players from 2010's roster, but they saw little if any playing time. Look for the competition for these positions to be fierce, with incoming Freshmen also adding to the mix.

Linebackers- (Possible Starters)
Tremaine Whitney 6'1" 205  Played in all 10 games. His experience will be key this season.
Tre Jones 6'0" 195  Saw action in eight games his Freshman year, and should be solid in 2011.
Tevin Hanley- Played in seven games in 2010. Recovered a fumble for a touchdown.

This is another area that has 7 returners from 2010. Look for competition for these spots to be intense. Also adding to the competition will be incoming freshmen.

Defensive Backs and Safeties.

This unit will return all of the personnel from 2010. While the experience factor will be huge, I think competition for these jobs will likely be strong. This unit will have to show vast improvement over last year. Ferrum's pass defense ranked 8th in the conference, and must improve for the team to have a legitimate shot at the conference championship.
With a total of eight interceptions last season, Ferrum did improve over 2009, but looking back, the numbers have been better:

2005- 18 int's
2006- 4 int's
2007- 16 int's
2008- 11 int's
2009- 7 int's
2010- 8 int's

So how will the Panthers stack up?  The potential on offense is very exciting. The only question mark for this unit is the tight end position, and the ability of the offensive line. Overall I think the offense will be very strong.

On the defensive side of the ball, the line has the most question marks. This will be the area that will require the most attention, and must be strong for the Panthers to contend. Strength and speed will be the key, and personnel ability will likely dictate the formation used. I am hoping for a 4-3, but this will be determined later. In the defensive backfield, the experience factor will help, but this unit will have a large burden to improve over last years numbers.
Overall, I see the defensive unit having very good potential, but must deliver consistent performance for the team to contend. Defense wins championships.

Special Teams-

Look for Marcus Mayo to again put up strong numbers on punt returns. I would expect this to be a strength.

Ferrum has been spoiled at the punter position for the last four seasons, but this season will not be a total reversal of fortune. I expect Wesley Franklin to assume the punting duties, and will produce quality numbers at this position. There may be others vying for this position that I am not aware of.

Field Goals and XP's- Scott Puschell did not have the season he had hoped to have during his Sophomore year where field goals are concerned. I expect that the coaching staff has worked with him, and I am looking for a more consistent effort from Scott this season.

I look for Ferrum to be improved over last year's 4-6 record.  With the addition of Hampden-Sydney to the schedule, Ferrum will find the going a little tougher than last season, but look for the Panthers to step it up a couple of notches and very easily could surprise some people. It's going to be a good year for the Black and Gold!

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