After two games, I am happy with a lot of what I have seen, and somewhat perplexed at other elements of the Panthers season. First, I really thought the Panthers would fare better against Emory and Henry, but the Wasps were, to say the least, better prepared, and out played Ferrum, winning 41-12.
In their second game, Ferrum made what I consider to be huge strides in their development. Playing the #23 ranked Hampden-Sydney Tigers, Ferrum showed the ability to move the ball, and their defense against the rush was overall impressive. I was also impressed at Marcus Mayo's ability to scramble, stop, and throw deep when it looked like he would run. While this too was a loss, there were a lot of positives.
This week will bring the Panthers home after two road games. The Bridgewater Eagles come to Ferrum with a 2-0 record, and the leading rusher in the ODAC in Darrin McKenzie. McKenzie is averaging 124.5 yards per game. This will be a winnable game, but not without another huge effort. Bridgewater is 2-0, and is playing really good football. They are averaging 24 points per game, and are only giving up 20.0 points per game. As for the Panthers, they are averaging 13 ppg, and are giving up just under 40 ppg.
Ferrum will face an Eagles passing game led by quarterback Carlos Gonzales. Over two games, Gonzales has thrown 40 passes, completing 16 for 210 yards and one touchdown. Some quarterbacking duties have been shared with Jacob Hutchinson. Hutchinson is 3 of 10 for 30 yards and one interception. Look for the Eagles to air it out more often in this game, but to primarily rely on McKenzie for their offense.
For Ferrum, I think this will be a game that will play more to the Panthers strong suit...stopping the run. I do not think the secondary will be aggressively attacked, but they will be tested. This is a winnable game, but Ferrum has to focus. Penalties have to again be kept to a minimum, as do turnovers.
Keys to a Panther Win:
Shut down the running game of McKinzie
Control the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball.
Run the Option more. This will set up the pass.
This game has the potential to be a huge confidence builder going into the conference schedule. A win will make those first two games hurt a lot less. Play smart Panthers. You can win this game.