Ferrum hits the road for the second week in a row, and travels to Newport News to face Christopher Newport. Over the years, Ferrum, like most other teams, has had very little success against the Captains. Since 2001, when CNU started football, Ferrum has only defeated CNU once. It was in 2003, and Ferrum hung on to beat the then 11th ranked Captains, 19-17.
Currently, Ferrum's rushing offense is ranked 2nd in the conference, and the Panthers passing offense is ranked 4th. These are solid rankings considering the change in personnel that the offense experienced since last year. The offense looked really strong against Averett, as Ferrum employed a balanced rushing and passing attack to best the Cougars 49-28. Defense looked very strong, as it has in the last three games. Against Shenandoah, and Southern Virginia, they only gave up 7 points per game, and this likely could have been the same story with Averett had wholesale substitutions not been made on the defense in the fourth quarter.
Ferrum's run defense is ranked 2nd in the conference, and has been very solid. The pass defense is however ranked 7th in the conference, and will have to be hitting on all cylinders against the Captains solid passing game.
As for Ferrum's opponent this week, Christopher Newport has a 2-2 record overall, but that is not surprising. They opened against Salisbury, and Hampden-Sydney. They lost both of those contests, but picked up wins against Shenandoah, and Maryville. I still consider this team the logical top pick in the conference, but they are showing vulnerabilities. They are having offensive success, but not to the level we have come to expect. Their rushing offense is ranked 5th in the conference, and their passing offense is ranked 3rd.
If the Captains have a glaring weakness, it is their inability to stop the run. They are ranked 8th in the conference against the run, and even though that included a loss to Salisbury who ran the ball 55 of their 61 offensive plays for 455 yards, they also gave up 252 yards to Maryville this past Saturday. CNU opponents are averaging 248 yards per game on the ground.
5 Things you can count on Saturday from CNU:
1. A loud biased crowd at Pomoco stadium.
2. A CNU offense that will be heavily run oriented
3. Short underneath passing routes that are designed to pick up necessary yards for the first downs.
4. At least one trick play for the Captains. Very well may come in the form of an onside kick.
5. Periodic shots down field deep to test the secondary
Ferrum has the necessary talent to win this game. They can put up points, and are very effective on defense. It will be a good game, and possibly one of the closest games in the series. Look for Ferrum to come out fired up. The potential conference champion could be decided Saturday.
As for my predictions, I was 3-1 last week, only missing the Greensboro-Methodist game. As for this week, here is what I see happening.
Ferrum 24 CNU 27
Maryville @ Greensboro
Averett @ LaGrange
Methodist @ N.C Wesleyan