Sunday, July 27, 2014

2014 USA South Predictions

Once again, I have poured over numbers, rosters, schedules, and tried to incorporate any recruiting information I could find, in an effort to put together my predictions for this season. What I have learned is that there is very little separating the #1 team from the #9 team. I think there will be upsets, and I think that likely the championship will be decided in the last week of the season. It will be exciting.

So here we go. Here are my 2014 predictions for the USA South.

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9.  Averett- For the Cougars, it's a new day, with a new head coach, and hopefully a new direction. With only one win last season, Averett replaced their head coach with former Ferrum player, and defensive coordinator Clieve Adams. I do think Averett will grow as a team, and will likely improve in the near future, but I see this season holding similar results as last year. 


 
 






8.  Greensboro- The Pride should show a noticeable improvement this year, but the one thing that may make their season an uphill climb, is that all of the teams are expected to be better. With only eight gone from last year's roster, their depth and experience will be a definite plus. Look for the Pride to be close on many games, and could pull an upset.





7. North Carolina Wesleyan- While the Bishops had an apparently weak 2-8 record in 2013, They were in many of the games that they played. Their offense was quite capable both on the ground, and in the air, but too many times their defense struggled. This is a young team, stronger than you may think, and with a lot of potential. Look at this team to pull off an upset or two.


                                 



6.  Ferrum- In what appears to be a rebuilding year for the Panthers, I would say that this year will be an "iffy" one for Ferrum. With many changes on the sideline, and what seems to be a fruitful recruiting campaign, I have not given up hope that this could be a promising season. If the offensive line can dominate their role in the offensive scheme, and if the defense can show a pronounced improvement and consistency, and if the special teams is solid in all areas, then Ferrum will be in the mix. Time will tell, and they will have to pull more than one upset, but this team has some strong players, and may just be a dark horse.

5.  LaGrange- With a strong core of returning players, LaGrange will try to build on a season that showed a lot of promise, but finished short of where they wanted to be. 5-3 in the conference, and 5-5 overall, look for this team to be a strong contender for the conference championship. The month of October will tell the tale for the Panthers. If they can play solid in October, they may be in the mix to make the playoffs. It is important to note that this team lost fewer players to graduation (7) than any other team in the conference.

4.  Huntingdon- This team, like LaGrange, will try to bounce back from what ended up being a disappointing season. The Hawks suffered an unexpected loss at the hands of LaGrange, and also fell to Methodist before ending the season with a win over Maryville. Look for them to again field a strong team, especially on offense as they ended the season with the #1 ranked offense in the country. They will have to start fast as their first two conference games are at Methodist, and at Maryville.

3.  CNU- The Captains will begin their final year in the USA South, and will look to rebound from their non championship season of last year. This was indeed a rare occurrence, and I am sure the Captains will look to go out on top. The possibility of their hopes coming to fruition may be told in their first 5 games as they face a gauntlet of talented teams which include Salisbury, at Hampden-Sydney, at North Carolina Wesleyan, Methodist, and Ferrum. Look for them to right in the mix, and could close out on top.



2.  Methodist- The Monarchs will look to pick up right where they left off, and could be a dominate team in the conference this year. With their star quarterback returning, look for their offense to be solid.(Their offense ended the season ranked #2 nationally) They will have challenges, among them is that their defense will have to step up in a big way. The defense was ranked 235th nationally of 242 teams. Without improvement on the defensive side of the ball, they could struggle. I do believe their D will improve to keep them in the hunt.

 



1.  Maryville-The Scots are looking to make a return trip to the playoffs, but the numbers lost to graduation may make this difficult. I am certain that the depth of this team will fill the holes nicely, but may leave this team somewhat younger and inexperienced. Look for the Scots to be in the mix throughout the season, and expect a shootout for the title in the last week against Methodist.

Conference Summation:
In all honesty, the separation of talent between all of the teams is razor thin. I expect the margin of victory to closer than ever for almost all results, and I expect more overtime games this year than probably ever before, and lastly, I expect that the team with a strong special teams program, will be in the mix at the end.
Any of these teams could win, but the top five teams listed  will likely have the best shot. It should be a really fun season to be a fan.

7 comments:

  1. Well Allen, I do commend you on your predictions on how the conference will go this season, but I would like to add my 2 cents worth. I see that you picked good ole FC to finish 6th ahead of 3 teams but what I don't get is how can you pick NC Wesleyan to finish behind FC? It seems that based on schedule FC has it the hardest?? Again Allen I might be wrong but looking at FC schedule where do you see a win in the first 6 games??? I don't see one meaning that FC might be on the bottom basement again and people like yourself will be making excuses for them. Also I would like to know honest that if you say that FC season might be an "iffy" one don't you think that FC might be over reaching in the sense that your homer thinking that FC will win 3 games might be a reach?? Any thoughts?? Look I to am a FC fan but a realist and when I see FC I see sadly wrong choices and mistakes!! I do ask will FC beat CNU or E&H this season??? because CNU leaves and you know that CNU will not schedule FC and E&H its just tiring to lose your opener year and year!! Other than that I do enjoy your reports, but like I told you be fair on both sides or in simple terms be real and not adding fluff or homer biases because your an FC homer!!! Also be real on posting my comments its not just for you!!! You have other commenters that think that FC is this great hot team that when they lose making excuses for them and when they win all you hear are they can beat anybody and yet all FC does is lose to nobody!!!! How about em FC!!!!

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  2. Well you may be right....I cant say that I did not consider that the possibility that Ferrum could go 0-6 before a win....no doubt that is a possibility. I think it is also a possibility that they could win 2 of their first three games. Ferrum is going to be difficult to guage. I think they will have more talent, but I cannot see them finishing any better than 5-5. Who would those wins come from....I think they have their best chances of picking up wins over E&H, NCW Greensboro, Averett, and yes....CNU...why not, its the last time, and I think they will be poised for an upset. While I understand you will disagree, keep in mind, I picked them to finish 6th....therefore, I do not see them winning but maybe three to four games. As for the NCW game, I think both teams will be pretty even, and I think Ferrum will be up for homecoming.....what can I say I admit it I am a homer!

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  3. Ferrum is rebuilding in many ways- not just roster talent. They need to establish a consistent offensive and defensive identity- sort of what they had in the "glory days". Hopefully the assistant coaching changes this year will take care of that. Once they establish that identity they need to attract and retain the talent that fits the program. The measuring stick that Ferrum is "back" is CONSISTENTLY beating Emory and CNU. I'm not so much worried about wins and losses this year as I am seeing a WELL-COACHED team that plays smart and hard. If this quarterback passes way more than he runs- they will for sure have a losing season.

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  4. I agree with most every thing you say, but I think there can be a balance where the successful running game, will set up a potential for an opportunistic passing game. If the O line is dominate, the running game will be there. Therefore, so too possibly will the pasing game.

    As for the defensive identity, this is something that I think holds the most question marks, and the most room for improvement. They may not turn it completely around this year, but they may turn the corner on defense, and get things moving in the right direction.

    Lastly, I worry about the special teams. With Wesley Franklin gone, there is a big void to fill. Ferrum had no touchdowns on punt returns, or on kickoff returns last year...this has to improve.

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  5. TO anonymous - Allen's picks seem to be right on with the Coaches picks in the conference! As you all know at this level, the margins are so small generally speaking that at 7-3 team could quickly turn into a 4-6 team and like wise the other direction. As far as him being a homer...it's called the Ferrum College Football Report :-) I know a 5-5 season doesn't sound fantastic, but I think it is realistic and could be better in my mind. Tae Gilbert is a beast and Tim Reynold of old is obviously almost impossible to contain. A lot of things have to fall into place, but they are there to fall into I believe! Go Panthers!

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    1. Thanks Derek.....My understanding, is that Tae Gilbert will not be back this year. I have heard this from two very well placed sources.

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  6. TO DWoods I see that your one of those fans that really think that its so easy to be a great team on paper based on potential and then go on the field and play and play like good Ole FC does which is trash!!! Hey look, I to am a FC fan and like I said worked on the staff for years but be real when you have players that aren't the best and coaches that are outdated and nothing changes what do you expect to happen??? I have seen that this year FC got some new coaches to please the financial backers, but what real changes has FC done??? From my sources and view point nothing!! You tell me DWoods that good Ole FC will be a winning team this year!!! If you think that being average like 5-5 is good for fans and alumni and financial backers your kidding!!! FC might be in for a year that nobody wants which could mean a total overhawl which should of been done years ago!!!!

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