It is truly comparing apples to oranges to try to equate some of Hank Norton's championship teams to Ferrum teams of today. These are two different eras of Ferrum football. While the teams of the sixties and seventies were far different from teams of today, many of the basic approaches to success could and should be the same. If you were to look at Ferrum's last championship team, the 1977 team, the main thrust seems to be the defense. Over that championship year, Ferrum finished the season 9-1, only losing to Grand Rapids Junior College, 16-14. That loss played in a heavy downpour, saw Ferrum fumble eight times, and lost six of those. The Grand Rapids team scored the game winning touchdown on a 38 yard pass with less than two minuets remaining.
Overall that season, Ferrum gave up 36 points. That, at the time was the second fewest points given up by a team, and six of their ten games were shutouts....Incidentally, the fewest given up was by the '65 championship Panthers, who only allowed 19 points on the season. In short, defense was always the bedrock of Ferrum success.
This year, Ferrum gave up 394 points, with 23 touchdowns of opponents coming through the air. On the ground, Ferrum gave up 2109 yards, and 29 rushing touchdowns. While there are many differences between the athletes of those championship teams, and the ones of today, the focus on defense must be primary, and no options should be taken off of the table to make Ferrum's defense formidable again.
If there is going to be a re-evaluation, and review of the season, defense would be where I would start, and while it may not be realistic to think that Ferrum will break any records of the '65 team, It really, can only get better, and it must.
If the defense is going to be the first need addressed, then offense should not follow too far behind. This season, Ferrum's offense scored 223 points. This was down from last years total of 322. A 99 point decrease on offense, and a change in points surrendered by the defense from 231 in 2012, to 394 this season. Not a recipe for success. The 1977 championship team scored a total of 314 points. Not as strong as the offense last year.
Ferrum is looking good in some areas...I was fortunate for the first time to visit the Hank Norton Center Saturday. This is nothing short of a masterpiece. This facility is one of the nicest I have seen, and is something Ferrum should be very proud of. The entire Adams stadium is looking very much first class, and I was just as impressed with the new press box, and the new restrooms. Changes that will all make a difference.
So exactly, what will it take for Ferrum to get back to prominence? I am not sure, but there are things that I think are impressive about the program, and there are things that need work. I do believe that next year will have a much better ending.