Wednesday, August 24, 2011 rankings have Panthers finishing 3rd in the USA South at 6-4

The long awaited preseason publication "Kickoff 2011" has been posted. This online only publication has several feature articles, and breaks down each of the 239 D III teams in the nation. It further ranks all of the teams from 1-239, and ranks all of the 27 DIII conferences.

Ferrum, according to this publication, will finish 3rd in the USA South with an overall record of 6-4, and a projected 4-3 conference record. Interesting in that these figures indicate that Ferrum will win 2 of its 3 non conference games...I agree. The article does not break down every game, but I would think it is safe to assume, based on their conference rankings, they are projecting that Ferrum will lose to CNU, and NCW.  So who will the fourth loss come from? I would expect that they are looking for a Shenandoah win in Winchester.
These are not bad predictions, but I am really looking for Ferrum to be overall  far better than they have been in the last few seasons.
Offensive experience is strong, but the publication correctly points out inconsistencies on the offensive line. Defensively, they also point out the inexperience that will permeate the D-line. With the loss of three of the four D linemen from 2010, Ferrum will have some holes to fill. For me, I believe this front unit will have a strong corp.
Linebackers are really the major unknown for me. I cannot predict who will get the starting nod at linebacker, but if the 2010 roster is any indication, I think they will have depth at that position.
Lastly the secondary. While they are returning all of their starters from last year, the numbers from last year are not that impressive. Pass Defense ranked 201st in the nation, and 8th in the conference. This may be an issue, but I think these numbers will improve with the experience factor and with some overall scheme changes on defense.
Ferrum's average margin of defeat was 6.3 points. Their average margin of victory was 17.75 points. One of their losses was in overtime. (E&H), and one of their wins was in triple overtime. (Methodist) What this tells me is they were a lot closer to being 5-5 or 6-4 than they were to being 3-7 or 2-8.
For the upcoming season, I think you will see a marked difference, and I think you will see it right from the start. Look for Ferrum to be the most improved team in the conference, and look for them to grab the attention of every other conference team starting on Sept. 3rd.

Go Panthers!

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