Friday, October 31, 2014

Game Preview: Ferrum @ Greensboro

For the second week in a row, Ferrum takes to the road, this time to face the Pride of Greensboro. After an impressive win over Averett, the Panthers look to make it two in a row over a struggling Greensboro team. The Pride 1-6 (1-4 conf.) are giving up 46.9 points per game, and are only averaging 20.7 points per game. Ferrum by contrast is giving up just 30.4 points per game, but the offense is only averaging 19.4 points per game. Look for Greensboro to throw the ball often. The remainder of the schedule, Ferrum will face three of the best quarterbacks in the conference. The secondary will definitely be tested.
Ferrum's defense showed great progress last week against Averett, only giving up 15 rushing yards on 30 carries. I would expect more of the same this week, but look for the "Alabama Wild man" Montel Lee to continue to put pressure on the quarterback. Freshman Rashad Johnson leads Ferrum's defense with 54 tackles, followed closely by Senior Jatavious Adams with 51.

A Word About Coach Elmassian

As it has been reported in the Roanoke Times, Phil Elmassian has left the Ferrum coaching staff. I have received a few comments about this, but just read the article today. I was sorry to hear this news, especially given that he left for health reasons. My hope is that his health soon improves. I believed that this was a really good hire for Ferrum. I looked at this as a real plus for Ferrum as he brought multitudes of experience. Most coaches come to Ferrum to gain experience and then leave. He did not need to take the job, it seemed that he wanted the job. Ferrum's rural location can sometimes make it difficult to not only recruit players, but also coaches....This is not a news flash that Ferrum, being between Waidsboro and Endicott is not a metropolis, and is lacking many of the amenities that an urban location would hold. Coaches who are considering Ferrum, have to take that aspect into consideration. This was not a factor for Coach Elmassian, as this was his third stint at Ferrum. Lastly, I doubt Ferrum could pay him anywhere near the salary that he would have received at a DI school, but this did not deter him. So you have a coach with phenomenal experience willing to bring his skill set to a school located far from a large city, and make very little money. To me this was indicative of a winning situation for Ferrum. I doubted that he would be there more than a couple of years, as he was near retirement age, but I am hopeful that his brief stay this time left some positive impressions on the players and the coaches.

So this week, I see Ferrum again in the win column. Looking at this as a game where hopefully the offense will step it up in the point production department. It will largely depend however on how effective the defense is against the pass. This could be a track meet, and that may not bode well for the Panthers. Ferrum needs to shut their offense down. If that happens, look for win #2.

Ferrum 28
Greensboro 20

As for the rest of the conference:

Averett @ Methodist
North Carolina Wesleyan @ Maryville
LaGrange @ Christopher Newport

I would expect that the North Carolina Wesleyan @ Maryville game to be a really good one. Look for the home teams to have the advantage this weekend.....except in Greensboro.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Giving Credit Where Credit is Due

While there was a good amount of emphasis on the defense in the last two posts, It is only fair, and absolutely appropriate, that we not look past the offense in last night's win.
Tim Reynolds did something last night that he has done before, but it is not considered automatic. Reynolds ran and passed for more than 100 yards. He had 105 yards rushing on 17 carries with 2 touchdowns, and he completed 9 passes for 127 yards and one touchdown.
Besides Reynolds, Harvey Taylor had 61 yards on the ground, and Troy Helton ended the night with 48 yards. Freshman Jacquan Martin contributed 38 rushing yards. This was a personal best for Martin.
The 26 points Ferrum scored, represents the second highest amount of points scored this year. This was a well played game by the offense, and shows that they are showing what they can do in a game. Great job O!!!

Win Over Averett Keeps the Streak Alive

Last night's 26-14 win over Averett, did more than just get Ferrum their first win of the season. It kept a record in tact, that started in 1955. Since the beginning of football at Ferrum College, there has never been a team to go without at least one win in a season. This win kept Ferrum's 2014 team from claiming that unwanted distinction.
This win did more than that however. It showed the team, and fans, that Ferrum is moving in the right direction. Over the last several years, it has been the Ferrum defense that seems to have been the Achilles heel of the team. This year, it is evident that Ferrum has put a lot of emphasis on defensive improvement, and it is paying off. With a nice mix of upperclassmen, and freshmen, Ferrum seems to be making strides to getting the defense back to where is used to be...the foundation of the program.
Ferrum travels to Greensboro this coming Saturday, and while the Pride have not had a great season, they have one of the best quarterbacks in the conference. They will pass a lot, and the secondary will be tested. This is a game Ferrum can win, and should win, but the Pride will not go quietly. With attention to detail in the game plan that the coaches put forth this week, I look for Ferrum to pick up a second win, and start a new streak....a winning streak.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Panthers Defense Stops Averett 26-14

The box score tells the story.

Total Offense: Ferrum 403    Averett 150
Passing Yards  Ferrum 137   Averett 135
Rushing Yards  Ferrum 266   Averett 15

Time of Possession   Ferrum 40:20     Averett 19:40

Not to take anything away from the offense, it was the defense that showed up large in Danville, dominating Averett from start to finish.

This was a big win for Ferrum. It means a lot, and while they are not in contention for the conference championship, they can have an affect on the standings. Way to go Ferrum. Keep it going!

Game Preview: Ferrum @ Averett

The Panthers pack the bus, and take the shortest trip of the year as they travel to Danville to face the Cougars of Averett University. Clieve Adams will face his Alma mater for the first time, as both teams are looking to enhance, what has been to this point, a bleak season for each.
Averett has one win. They defeated Washington and Lee in the first game of the season..Ferrum is still seeking their first win.
 On paper, this could be a very good game. Ferrum is scoring an average of  18.6 points per game, and Averett is scoring 19.8. The season high for Ferrum is 30 points against North Carolina Wesleyan, and the season high for Averett is also 30 points against North Carolina Wesleyan. Ironically, the score for each game against NC Wesleyan was 34-30.
Opponents are scoring an average of 33.1 points per game against Ferrum, while the Cougars are giving up 34.5 points per game. I look for Ferrum to go out today and put up a strong performance. It is hard to say how this one will go, but I look for Ferrum's offense to be more productive, and for the defense to get back to the form of the Christopher Newport game. The schedule is somewhat easier from this point forward, and I believe improvement, and success will be apparent in these last four games.
On paper, it should be a close game, but I look for the Ferrum offense to shine as Reynolds and Co. will hit their highest point total this season.  I think the drought will be over as Ferrum will climb out of the USA South cellar.

Ferrum    40
Averett    35

In other games, here is how I see it:

Methodist @ N.C.Wesleyan
LaGrange @ Huntingdon
Greensboro @ Christopher Newport.

Looks like an even split between the home teams and the visitors this week. Maryville is open.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Ferrum Continues Skid-
Falls to Huntingdon 35-16

Some Saturdays it works out so that I don't get to watch the Ferrum game online. Yesterday was one of those days. I worked my full time job yesterday, and while I tried to watch, as much as I could on my cell phone, the WiFi signal was hit and miss, so I gave up and finally got to watch it this morning.

There were some positives, but some real head scratching moments also. To hold Huntingdon to 14 points in the first half indicated a great effort, but to only put up 3 in the same half was frustrating to say the least. On offense, Ferrum again seemed to move the ball, but was shut down in the red zone. The offense is not producing at the rate that I had hoped, and while they had their chances, they seemed unable to capitalize.
Special teams struggled as well. The Ferrum defense that had done so well in the first half, seemed to have their schemes figured out by Huntingdon in the second half, and the Hawks took advantage.

There were very few that thought Ferrum had a chance in this game. but they played well. The statistics bear that out, but the score board did not. Statistically, Ferrum had a strong game, and there were areas, such as rushing, that Ferrum outperformed Huntingdon, but to me, there seems to be a breakdown as the field gets shorter. The "red zone", from the 20 to the goal line, seems to be a tough area for any team to score, but for Ferrum, they definitely struggle. Here are the cumulative season stats so far:

2014 Season Stats

I have received the question already as to the reasoning for taking the first string defense out of the game in the second half. I am stumped by that one. I can only guess that it was a tactic. Why do it? I just don't know. It did get some players quality time in a game situation, but to go beyond that in this forum, would only be speculation. If I had to speculate, it could be that he wanted a fresh group on the field. or he wanted to give the starters a hint that maybe they should not be so secure in their starting jobs. Maybe he wanted to see how "hungry" the second string was. I don't know, but they held their own, and played well.

Ferrum seems to be operating a bit out of sync. It is as if they have many of the parts necessary to win, but they cant get the parts to move in unison. I look for there to be improvement next week, and maybe we can put one in the win column.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Game Preview: Huntingdon @ Ferrum

After a twenty point win over CNU, the Huntingdon Hawks come to W.B. Adams stadium for the first time, with a record of 4-2 overall, and 3-1 in the conference. Their lone conference loss came at the hands of Methodist. The Hawks are averaging just over 40 points per game, with their lowest point total being 29 in their second game of the season. This was a win against Birmingham Southern. This team will throw the ball, and very successfully. The DB's will have their hands full today. Pressure on their quarterback will be imperative.
Look for things to get somewhat easier in the second half of the season, but that may not start today. Ferrum will need to be successful on defense to give their offense a a chance to put up points. The offense is needing a breakout game, and while Ferrum does have some good offensive tools, I would say today will be an uphill climb. Better times are coming Ferrum, hang in there.

Huntingdon  36
Ferrum 20

As for the rest of the conference:

Maryville @ Greensboro

Methodist @ LaGrange

CNU @ Averett

Looks like this week may favor the visitors. North Carolina Wesleyan is open this week.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

The Freshmen of Ferrum

While all may not be going well for the Panthers in the Won/Loss column, Ferrum has some definite bright spots emerging on both sides of the ball. Some of this year's recruiting class are already seeing a lot of playing time, and many have earned starting jobs. Here is a look at some of the Freshmen making an impact.

#9 Jacquan Martin- Running Back South Stokes H.S. (NC) 

Martin is seeing some playing time, and came to Ferrum after a solid high school career. Having seen action in 4 of Ferrum's first five games, Martin is establishing himself as a back that will be a future difference maker for the Panthers.

#15 Mason James- Defensive Back Seabreeze H.S. (FL)

One of three recruits from Seabreeze High School, James has appeared in three games this season, but seemed to find his footing against Maryville, as he recorded 4 tackles.

#16 Rashad Johnson- Defensive Back  Stonewall Jackson H.S. (VA)

Johnson has come out of the gates on fire.  As a starter in the first five games, he has 49 tackles, 3 pass break ups, and 1 interception. Look for this freshman to only get better. He is an important part of the Ferrum defensive renaissance.

#21 Shy Smith- Defensive Back  Chatham H.S. (VA)

I first heard of Shy through one of his High School coaches, Ferrum alum Roger Keaton. He had high praise for Smith, and after 5 games, I see why. Starting all 5 games, he has 29 tackles, 1 pass break up, and 1 interception.

#39 Jacob Smoak- Kicker  Brookland-Cayce H.S. (SC)

One of three kickers on the Panthers roster, Jacob is showing a strong ability to kick good distances with accuracy. So far, Smoak is 2 of 3 in field goals, with his longest being 35 yards.

#45 Raul Gonzalez- Linebacker Seabreeze H.S. (FL)

Another one of the Seabreeze H.S. "Florida Boys", Gonzalez is really developing as a solid linebacker. Gonzalez earned a starting job as middle linebacker in the second game of the season and since then has 27 tackles 2 sacks, and 1 quarterback hurry. Look for Gonzalez to continue to develop, and have a major impact.

#55 Al Matthews- Defensive Lineman Franklin County H.S. (VA)

A local Franklin County product, Matthews is making the coaches of Franklin County High School proud, as well as the Ferrum coaches. Having started all 5 games, Matthews has recorded 33 tackles and 2 sacks. Look for him to continue to be a thorn in the side of opponents.

#96 Montel Lee- Defensive Lineman Andalusia H.S. (AL)

Having played in all five games, "The Alabama Wildman" is getting a lot of folks attention....especially the opposing teams. At the mid point of the season, he has 30 tackles....14 of which are tackles for a loss of yardage, and two sacks. Look for him to just get better as time goes on.

Other freshmen that I feel will be making an impact in the near future include Ben Pulley, Josh Bare, Stephen DiCenzo, Brian Roberts, Kyle Smith, and Jackson Lowther

This list only makes up a small portion of the incoming freshman class. This was, in my opinion one of the best recruiting classes in a while. It takes time, but Ferrum is building a strong foundation. It is a process, and if the freshmen will stick with the process, Ferrum will get better. Player retention is a issue when all you do is practice and there are no scholarships, but Ferrum, right now has the potential to be strong. I say this as the record is 0-5, but the improvements they are showing will only be enhanced if players stay committed to the program.

A Closer Look at the Maryville Game

All in all, the stats show one glaring deficiency, the running game was not there for Ferrum. You could look at conditions as a cause, but I think the more likely cause was the Scots had as their primary task to disrupt Tim Reynolds, and they did. Ferrum could not get a solid ground game established, and while the poor conditions existed for both teams, Maryville was able to generate 236 yards on the ground, compared to Ferrum's 123....and Ferrum had one more running play than Maryville.

I am concerned about the Ferrum offense, but there is a lot of talent on that side of the ball. We have to get more points on the board, and I know there are many out there that believe that Ferrum needs to completely change their offense. I do not see that happening in the middle of a season. Maybe there could be some changes made on a small scale, but to wholesale change the offense is not practical right now. There are many factors that will determine what offense is implemented, mostly that would be determined by the talent level, size, speed, abilities etc. The option or spread option does not require a huge and powerful offensive line, but it is an offense that requires a capable quarterback, and a good amount of speed in the back field.

It has been suggested that the Wing T be implemented. Not a bad idea, and it could possibly work, but there would be different blocking schemes. Not overly complicated from what I see, but there are several variations of the Wing T that may be more complicated to a degree. That offense, like the option, is based on deception, but can be more difficult to defend than the option.

Huntingdon next week. They beat CNU 51-31...ugh.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Ferrum drops to 0-5 in Mud Bowl

In a game that most would have thought would have been a blow out, Ferrum held their own most of the day but fell to Maryville, 23-13. Conditions were not good, but I have to say that Ferrum's offensive production is sadly lacking. They again seem to be able to move the ball between the 30's, but, as the field gets shorter, the Panthers offense seems befuddled.

This too was a game Ferrum could have won.  I have to say that Maryville is a good team, but not as overwhelming as I predicted they would be earlier this season. I will post more as I review the stats, but all in all, Ferrum is improving in areas, but must get the offense to be more productive. Many suggestions come in via blog readers, and overwhelmingly there is a suggestion to go away from the spread option look. I am wondering what offensive plan you think would work better....Here is a list of typical offenses.

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And the rest of today's games

CNU @ Huntingdon

NCW @ LaGrange

Greensboro @ Methodist

Montel Lee

#96 Montel Lee DL
Freshman- Andalusia AL

In four games, this Freshman has 25 tackles, 12 of those for a loss, and 2 quarterback sacks. Look for the "Alabama Wildman" to play a big role in the Maryville game. Great Job Montel!