While kickoff of the 2011 season is still a ways away, I think it may be time to review some of the recent history of Ferrum College football, and see if there are any lessons that can be taken from past.
In 2005, Ferrum was 9-0 going into their last game against Christopher Newport. The playoff spot belonged to Ferrum, and it was just a question if Ferrum would host the first round. Unfortunately, Ferrum lost that day to CNU, by the score of 44-7. The first round of the playoffs was played at Wesley College in Delaware. Ferrum fell in this game 59-14.
Since then, Ferrum has not made the playoffs. Their best record since then has been 7-3 in 2008. They were 6-2 in the conference, but these two losses (to NCW and CNU) were enough to keep them out of the playoffs.
Ferrum averaged 39.5 points in 2005, but this has not been the case since then. In 2006, they averaged 22.4, in '07 the average was 24.2, in '08 the average was 24.5, and in '09 it was 26.5. Last season the average moved to 28.3 This was significant, and I think will tell a lot about the upcoming year.
Defensively, Ferrum gave up 27.4 ppg in 2005. Since then, the numbers look like this:
Last year proved to be their second best defensive year since 2005. With the loss of several key defensive players, it is hard to predict where the team will finish up this year.
Offensively, the line play will be the key. Ferrum looks positioned to have a strong offensive year. To say that their offense is capable of putting up points is an understatement. This offense should leave several teams in the dust. Questions will have to be answered as to the size, speed, and strength of the offensive line, and as of now, I am not sure who will replace Munch at TE. I do know this...Ferrum will be deep...very deep in the offensive backfield, and the WR's should be solid.
The long and winding road of 2011 will have the Panthers as the visiting team in four of their first five games. If they can come out of the first five games with a winning record, and two of those wins are in conference, then it will have been a successful first half of the season.
Success will key on many factors... conditioning, mental preparedness, ability to execute, minimizing mistakes, and injuries will all play a part. I have a good feeling about this season, but The jury is still out on the defense.
Ferrum has some questions marks throughout the defensive unit. Losing Willie Taylor, John Branch, and Zach Leonard will present issues along the line. The LB corps is deep, but there will be new faces. Chris McCalla is gone from this unit, While the secondary has all of last year's starters returning, they must improve their pass defense. The experience factor will help, and I believe you will see improvement in this area.
While information is limited, I understand that Ferrum has had a good recruiting campaign, and may have some new players transferring in. These two factors alone will go along way toward the continued development of the program.
While I can put up all kinds of statistics from previous seasons, this is a new day in Ferrum football. The past does not always predict the future, and I am excited about the future. Given time, Ferrum may well be the USA South representative in the D3 playoffs. Some would advocate that the time is now.......who knows maybe that will be the outcome. I will not go that far just yet, but i do believe that Ferrum will be a force to be reckoned with, and will surprise several teams this year. Go Panthers!