I had the opportunity to go to Ferrum's game last night, and knowing the historical record between the two schools, I will have to admit, I was nervous to say the least. As I indicated in my Game Preview post, I thought Ferrum could give the Captains a game, and possibly catch them looking ahead to Huntingdon. The Panthers did indeed give them a game. In so many respects, Ferrum seemed like the stronger team, but there were other times that Ferrum would cause as much problems for themselves as the CNU team did.
Penalties, Mistakes, and Miscues
Penalties will happen. They are an inherent part of the game, but teams have to work hard to minimize them. Reflexes can cause penalties. Reaching to tackle the ball carrier, and inadvertently grabbing the face mask is one of the things that just happens....you obviously want to minimize penalties, but they do happen. A team like CNU is very talented, and does not need the help of penalties to enhance their efforts.....especially when those penalties, after a score, result in the Captains kicking off from the Ferrum 35......(that was definitely a first for me.) 2 dead ball fouls, a personal foul, and an abusive language penalty, were completely avoidable. This to me was inexcusable, and a complete detriment to the overall objective. These along with a sideline penalty on a coach, were all ridiculous. I would also add that in the penalty department, Ferrum, having two kickoffs go out of bounds hurt the Panthers cause. Yes it was windy, but the kicks have to stay on the field of play.
Turnovers are something that has to be eliminated. The one pass interception was a well thrown ball that could have been caught, but it looked like to me from where I was, it somehow bounced off of the receivers shoulder pads, and into the hands of the defender....those things happen, but CNU did what good teams do, they converted it into points.
The fumble by Reynolds was another example of how quickly a good team can strike after being given a gift. ( If I remember right, CNU threw for a touchdown after the fumble, but it was called back due to their own mistake...offensive pass interference.)
Marcus Morrast, and Rudy Rudolph are very good, and athletic ball players. They are a hard combination to stop, and it was no surprise to me that they had several connections. You are not going to stop them all the time, but I have to say that the defensive effort was very, very strong. The defensive front for Ferrum did a great job. I was really impressed with the entire defensive effort.
I heard a comment at the game last night, and I have had this repeatedly asserted in readers comments on the blog..."They always run the same stuff" Ferrum runs a spread option attack, and as I understand it, this formation spreads the defense out. If the Panthers, from this formation, run the typical run or pitch type option play, they are generally moving the ball to the edges of the field. This attack requires pretty good speed in the back field. If the offense is successful in getting around the corner, there is a good possibility that the ball carrier will pick up good yardage. If the defense starts to slide to the edges, then it opens up the middle, and yardage can be gained through the middle. Lastly, if the defense brings the secondary in closer to try to stop the run, passing routes may open up.
Many followers of the blog seem to think Ferrum needs to initiate a different offensive game plan. I personally have no problem with the spread option, but think that last night, the shorter the field got, the less effective it was. Mostly, I thought Ferrum's offense was strong between the 30's. I must emphasize, they did have over 400 yards of offense, but I think this should have resulted in more points.
Two kick offs out of bounds, and a blocked xp.... Work needs to be done in this area. Punting seemed better as far as getting the punt off, but I don't recall a huge amount of pressure. Kickoff and punt returns were good, but I am still hoping to see a couple come back all the way.
This was a game that Ferrum could have won. I will also add that there seemed to be a lack of enthusiasm on the sideline. The players need to be vocally supportive of each other, they need to motion to the fans to get fired up. This can have an effect, and can help make a difference.
In the end, it is another loss, but what makes it worse is it was against a team that, on paper, looked superior to the Panthers. They were not. Ferrum could have won, and while there are many good points to the Panthers effort, my favorite part about last night's game is that CNU is not going to be on the schedule next year....not as a conference opponent anyway.
Great Effort....Go Panthers!