Once again, I will post my predictions for the upcoming season just prior to the USA South media day, which is scheduled for July 28th. Hosted at Maryville College this year, there will be a live video feed through the www.usasouth.net website.
My predictions will come out sometime on Sunday the 27th. This year, will likely be the most difficult year for predictions, as it seems that most conference teams can legitimately contend for the title.
One of those teams is obviously CNU. Always competitive, the Captains will be looking to end their stint in the conference with one last championship. Along with CNU, Maryville, the defending conference champion, will look to win back to back titles. Methodist, who was co champion with Maryville, will again be in the mix, and a serious contender for the championship. Huntingdon, North Carolina Wesleyan, Ferrum, LaGrange, Averett, and Greensboro, will all have a shot to win the title, and all can affect the final standings.
As for Ferrum, This year, like last year, I see a lot of question marks. While last year, the question marks centered around the defense, I see more of them centering around the offense this year, specifically the offensive line. Lots of holes to fill, but there is some experience returning. Size is one area that concerns me, and I am hopeful, they will be more comparable to their opponents D-line.
The good news for the offense is that I see Ferrum's offensive backfield being pretty darn quick. I look for them to have a good deal of speed, and a passing game that could cause problems for opponents. The success of any of the offensive attack however, starts with the effectiveness of the offensive line.
Do not think that this means the defense is appearing to me to be a solid, rebuilt unit, because that is just not the case. 5 members of the defensive unit have graduated, and while it looks like Ferrum has picked up some talented incoming freshmen, one of the
best acquisitions was the hiring of Phil Elmassian. Coach E, brings a wealth of experience, and I believe, over time, will turn the unit around. I have no idea what type of defense the Panthers will run, but there is nowhere to go but up. I do not expect miracles, but I do think there will be a marked improvement, and this will help to make Ferrum competitive.
Finally, I want to comment that Ferrum, I believe has had a very good recruiting effort. It appears that most all areas have been addressed, and what I would call some very high caliber athletes are coming to Franklin County to strap on the black hat. Ferrum will be a better team this year, but whether is shows in the won/loss column , only time will tell. While I am hopeful, I believe that there will be a cross conference improvement Stay tuned, it could be a wild season.