This will be a weekend of firsts for four teams. Since all of last weeks winners play each other, and all of last weeks losers play each other, half of the teams will realize their first conference win, and their first conference loss. Between Ferrum, North Carolina Wesleyan, Shenandoah, and Christopher Newport, two will lose their first conference game, and between Methodist, Averett, Maryville, and Greensboro, two will win their first conference game.
Recent history would suggest that Ferrum is having a run of bad luck where North Carolina Wesleyan is concerned. Ferrum has not defeated the Bishops since 2005, and this is the only win in the eight times they have met. Ferrum is probably in as good a position to win as they have been in the last several years, and North Carolina Wesleyan, is possibly somewhat weaker than they have been. For Ferrum, a win Saturday will leave them tied for first in the conference. A loss for Ferrum would make their road to a conference title, bumpy to say the least. Anyone with one loss will require help from another team to keep their chances alive. Any team with two losses will be virtually out of the running, and while not mathematically eliminated, will have almost impossible odds to win the conference.
So what can we expect from the Panthers? Well Ferrum has been playing very strong on both sides of the ball, and while the Bishops have built a solid program, and were picked to finish second in the USA South, they are currently 1-3. They have played some pretty tough competition including Ohio Northern who was ranked 14th in the nation at the time. Look for NCW to emphasize their passing game. This would play their strength to Ferrum's weakness....although so far this season, Ferrum's pass defense has gone from a low of 215th nationally ranked, to its current ranking of 150th. It has also improved from 8th in the conference to 5th. So as for what to look for on defense, look for the Panthers secondary to be tested all day. The Bishops have the overall 75th best passing offense in the country, and are second in the conference to Shenandoah.
On the offense, Ferrum will likely find success running the ball, and should also find success passing. If Ferrum can play a flag free, consistent game, they should come away with a win.
Keys to the game:
Stop the passing game
Create turnovers, and turn them into points
Get to their quarterback.
Control the time of possession
Protect the ball- No turnovers
Protect the pocket- Protect Mayo
Be ready to make something(s) happen on special teams.
Strive for 75% success rate in the red zone.
This is an important game, but relax and have fun....You guys can win this.
Be ready for OT...This could come down to a FG
The Rest of this weekends games. Bold = winner
Shenandoah @ Christopher Newport University
Methodist @ Maryville
Picking a clean sweep by the visiting teams!