2013 USA South Predictions
Last year, I posted the following predictions:
4. North Carolina Wesleyan
As for those predictions, the first three were pretty good, as all three ended in a tie and were co-champions. Greensboro and Methodist however proved to be much better than I expected, and gave other conference teams a fit. The actual order of finish was:
So here are the 2013 predictions, and while there is no guarantee of their accuracy, I think it’s a sure thing that this will be one of the most exciting seasons in a while. Enjoy! Kickoff will be here soon.
9th Place- North Carolina Wesleyan (0-10, 0-8)
The Battling Bishops are coming off a disappointing 2012 season, and are starting with a new coach. Longtime coach Mark Henniger left the helm of the Bishops program to accept the head coaching position at Marian University.
The Bishops have hired Jeff Filkovski to replace Henniger, and thus a new era begins in Rocky Mount. Coming off of a 3-7 record, I look for this to be a year that initiates a building process for the Bishops. They will face a difficult schedule this year, and I think finding a win might be difficult. I see their best chance at a win will be their first game of the season at Stevenson, and I give the Mustangs the edge in that game. Beyond that, I expect that the Bishops will be in for a long season.
8th Place- Averett University (2-8, 1-6)
While the Cougars struggled to a 1-9 record, I look for some improvement this season. I expect that Averett will show improvement this season, and could be one of those teams poised to produce an upset. Last year, they were a much better team than their record indicated, and were contending in many of the games they eventually lost. Averett had the ability to put up points, but their defense seemed to be the chink in the armor. I do expect improvement, but improvement should be spread throughout the conference, not making the Cougars task any easier.
7th Place- Greensboro College (3-7, 1-6)
I look for the Pride to level off a bit this season, as they only return 12 starters from last year’s squad. While the prediction seems to be somewhat negative for Greensboro, this is another team that can surprise some folks. I fully recognize that they showed steady improvement over last year, and while they may have some losses to graduation, Quarterback Ryan Throndset will be back under center. Throndset, was one of the best in the USA South last year, and I only look for him to improve. Do not take your eye off of this team. They may well be better than I think.
6th Place- LaGrange College (4-6, 3-5)
Due to the addition of Huntingdon College, some conference foes will not face each other this year. Most schools will play their full three game non-conference schedule, but will only play 7 conference games. LaGrange however is different. They will play only 2 non- conference games, and will play all 8 conference opponents.
I do not look for the Panthers to present a huge challenge, but if you paid attention last year, they have the upset capability. They defeated both CNU and Maryville last season, and both of these wins came on the road. Look for this team to possibly contend, but I am expecting them to finish about mid pack.
5th Place- Methodist University ( 5-5, 3-4)
With a new coach in place, the Monarchs look to continue the progress they showed under Dave Evanson. Evanson stepped down to assume administrative duties in the athletics department. He has been named assistant athletic director. Replacing Evanson, will be former assistant C.J. Goss. Goss has been on the Methodist staff since 2005, and I would expect for the program to stay the course it has been on.
After closing the season out with a win over Christopher Newport, the Monarchs finished with a winning conference record, and were very close to being in contention for the championship. Their last three games were conference wins, and really cast them as a force to be reckoned with in 2013. This team could be much stronger than the record I predict…watch out for the Monarchs.
4th Place- Ferrum College (7-3, 5-2)
Ferrum should again enjoy a strong season, and be right in the thick of things, but the level of competition for the top spot will make things tough for the Panthers. Look for QB Tim Reynolds to shine again as he guides the Panthers offense, but with lots of holes left from graduation, Ferrum needs to solidify their offensive and defensive backfields, and also needs to fill the wide receiver voids. Ferrum will give us an idea of how successful they can be, by how they finish their non- conference games. If they can come out with at least 2 wins, things could be even more promising for the Panthers.
The Scots were a solid team last year and look for more of the same this year. I do not expect them to do anything but improve, and I look for them to be in strong contention for the conference crown. Defense was the hallmark of the Scots success last season, and one can expect that to be solid again as well.
No matter how you slice it, Maryville presents a must win situation for its opponents. How the Scotts fare on the road will determine their ability to get the playoff spot.
2nd Place- Christopher Newport University (7-3, 6-1)
It is hard to pick against a reigning conference champion, and it is especially hard to pick against a team that has had the consistency of CNU. While it is not a stretch to envision them in the playoffs again, I feel that there is a lot of competition, and it will be a challenge for them to get the automatic bid this season. Interestingly enough, the new conference format (9 teams this year) means that in most cases two teams will not face each other. CNU and Huntingdon will not play each other this year. This will be pivotal in determining the conference champion.
Look for another solid year from the Captains, but I think they finish on the outside looking in.
1st Place- Huntingdon College (8-2, 7-0)
I am thinking the Hawks will have too much for the rest of the field in the USA South, but it may also easily be described as barely enough. The newest entry into the conference brings a 6-3 record from last season, but those three losses were to some pretty good competition. (Birmingham Southern, Wesley, and Adrian) Huntingdon held a top 25 ranking for part of last season, but the loss to Adrian left them outside of the playoffs.I look for this Hawk team to pick up right where it left off last year, and cause a good deal angst to any coach on their opposite sideline. The fact that they do not play CNU will assist them in their road to the playoffs.
So there you have my predictions. I am very conflicted about many of these, and am not sure that I will even be close to correct. Time will tell. Be sure to watch the USA South web cast of the USA South Media Day event being held at Averett University tomorrow. The coaches poll will be released then.