YES! But it will take a strong effort on both sides of the ball. There are many factors that will play into a teams success or failure during a game. In fact, probably too many to list, but in addressing the question in the post title, I will try to point out some of the things that Ferrum has working in their favor, and what I see as areas of concern.....but before I do that, I want to acknowledge that I received a comment on the previous post, and the thrust of the comment was concern over the youth of the Panther defense. I inadvertently deleted the comment, but I do believe that parts of the comment are valid. The comment also delved into concerns as to coaching, and that the dependence on a youthful defense may be overwhelming in the face of the high powered offense of Emory and Henry.
Lets start with Defense. Ferrum seems to be showing improvement on defense over the last few years. Here is an overview of opponents average points per game since 2007.
While there is apparent improvement being seen, lets compare the 2008 defense to last years defense. In 2008, Ferrum lost three games. (E&H, NCW, and CNU) In those three games, they gave up an average of 26.9 ppg. In 5 of their 10 games that season, Ferrum gave up no more than 13 points. Interestingly enough, Ferrum's total defense was ranked 123rd in the nation at the end of the season, and was ranked 6th in the conference. Last year, the Panthers also lost three games. In those losses, they gave up an average of 35 points per lost game. Ferrum's defense was ranked 137th in the nation, and was also 6th in the conference. Both seasons Ferrum finished 7-3
As for what all this means to Saturday, many conclusions can be drawn, but I think it might be more helpful to see what has happened against Emory and Henry over the last say five years.
Ferrum has lost all of the last five meetings. the average points given up by Ferrum in these 5 contests is 31.8, with an average point differential in those games of 10.4 ppg. ( one was a 29 point loss....all others were less than 10 points)
Ferrum to be successful Saturday, must be prepared to defend the pass. There is no doubt that this could be a horse race as both offenses have the potential to put up points. I would expect that the Wasp quarterback will throw, throw, and throw some more. He was the 96th rated passer in the nation in terms of passing efficiency, but Tim Reynolds was ranked 31st in the same category. Pass rush will be crucial in assisting the secondary.
There are questions on defense for the Panthers, but I believe the coaching staff will have them ready. The toll that graduation took on the secondary may cause concern, but there is something that tells me Ferrum may just pull this off. I will post my game preview tomorrow.