Two games into the season, Ferrum coaches are likely scratching their heads trying to see what needs to be done to get the Panthers their first win. After a loss to Emory and Henry, I expected Ferrum to be much more competitive against the Shenandoah University Hornets. While some things looked better, Ferrum is not where they need to be to say the least. I have looked over the statistics from the first two games, and for the most part, am blown away by what I see, and by what I do not see.
The offense showed some improvement yesterday, but overall, it does not look to be as potent as what we saw last year. Averaging 21 points per game is not going to get it done when your opponent is averaging 46 ppg. So while the offense is struggling to find its identity, it appears that opponents are having their way with the Ferrum defense. Overall, Ferrum has given up 430 yards on the ground, and 505 through the air. Opponents have passed 73 times and completed 49 of them. That is 67.1% completion rate. There have been 5 touchdown passes thrown against the Ferrum D, and so far, Ferrum has not come up with any interceptions.
Defending the run is something else that seems to be perplexing to the Panthers. I saw some good things in yesterdays game where the rushing defense was concerned, but this was early, and it seemed that this phase of the game declined as time went on. Shenandoah's last touchdown drive was 99 yards, and consisted of 18 plays, all of them on the ground. That was just one of four rushing touchdowns scored against Ferrum yesterday.
Back to the offensive side of the ball. Overall it appears to me that there are two main issues with the offense. The offensive line is not really getting it done to the level they need to be, and the receivers are struggling to make necessary catches. Reynolds is a very capable athlete, but his effectiveness is very limited if the line does not give him the time he needs, and his passes are not caught. To have a punt blocked, resulting in a safety, and at least two others nearly blocked, along with having the ball first and goal at the 7, and not scoring does not bode well for the overall impression of the O line.
While it is easy to place blame, it is not fair to only give one side of the story. Shenandoah is a capable football team, and they have a very strong and large defensive line. Led by No. 99 Jake Payne (6'5" 285 lbs.), Ferrum had a formidable opponent, and just was not able to match up.
So where do the Panthers go from here? They travel to Bridgewater who is 2-0 with wins over St. Vincent, and Greensboro. They have outscored their opponents 95-13 in two games, and seem to be able to score on the ground, or through the air. It does seem that their tendency is to run, but I would look for them to try to exploit the secondary of Ferrum.
The next two weeks are going to be tough for the Panthers if things do not change. Bridgewater is receiving votes in the top 25 poll, as is the Panthers week 4 opponent Huntingdon. There is a lot of talent on the Panthers schedule, and some players have to step up for this team to be competitive. Don't look now, but CNU is 2-0, having beaten #16 in the country Salisbury, and ODAC powerhouse Hampden Sydney.
If all of the head scratching that the Panthers coaches are doing does not yield positive results, they may be the next candidates at the Hair Club for Men.