As we close in on the kickoff of the 2016 season, I must admit, there, for me are a lot of unknowns for the season. What I do know is I am glad the kickoff is almost here. Some other things I have learned is that Ferrum is shelving the triple option offense in favor of a more up tempo west coast style offense. This will mean more emphasis on the passing game. Harvey Taylor will start at quarterback, and there are a host of receivers available to him. Chris Guy will have a major role in the offense, along with 10 other wide receivers listed on the roster.
The Tight End position will also figure prominently, and this will likely be held down by Junior Josh Bare. Ferrum is also quite deep in this position as the roster shows 6 tight ends......5 of them are Freshmen.
In the backfield, Ferrum shows 15 running backs on the roster, but look for most of the carries to come from R.J. Lee, Joseph Barton, and Samuel Martin.
Quarterbacks on the roster, including Taylor, total 8, 6 of them being Freshmen.
On the defensive side, look for Junior Montel Lee to be one of the key members of the D unit.
Some of his accomplishments in his first two years include:
USA South Defensive Rookie of the Year, 2014
USA South All-Conference first team, 2014
VaSID Defensive Rookie of the Year, 2014
VaSID All-State first team, 2014
D3football.com All-South Region second team, 2014
USA South All-Conference first team, 2015
Also, in addition to these honors, Lee in his 2015 season, was the National Statistical Leader in Tackles for Loss category. The defensive unit will have its hands full Saturday as Emory and Henry will have returning at Quarterback Kevin Saxton who can really light it up. Saxton hit 53% of his passes last year, averaging 254 yards per game, and completing 20 passing touchdowns.
Ferrum's defensive secondary will be tested early and often. The secondary will likely be made up of the following:
CB 21 Shy Smith
FS 16 Zach Bullard
Rover 29 LaDonald Byrd
CB 3 Lawrence Baranski
Defensively, Ferrum will show a 3-4 defense, and according to the game notes, the defense will have a good amount of experience as all members are upper classmen with the exception of one freshmen linebacker Billy Higgins.
Special Teams look to be experienced with Senior Tyler Morgan returning as punter. Placekicking duties will be carried out by Freshman Chase Deaton. This unit should be strong.
Overall, I think Ferrum is laying a foundation for success. As I saw in a media report not long after being hired, Coach Grande indicated that the program did not get to where it is overnight, and the rebuilding will not happen overnight.
Time will tell how the staff has done with recruiting, and how the new systems will work out. I think the program is headed in a positive direction, but the fans must be patient. One game does not a season make.
As for Saturday, I look for there to be a lot of positives for Ferrum. I think that this game will bring a different excitement to Ferrum football. The Crooked Road Classic, as this series has now been dubbed will add a new meaning to the game. It also will not hurt as the back story will be Coach Grande facing his old team.
While the scoreboard may not be where I would prefer it, I think in the long run, Saturday will go a long way toward restoring the roar!!
Emory and Henry 37