Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Game #4: Furman

For the fourth game of the season, the Cats are on the road to Travelers Rest, SC  to meet the Paladins in the 2018 football edition of The Battle for Purple Supremacy.

The Cats have dropped two straight to Furman and are looking to change that streak.


When: Saturday, September 29 - Time: 2:00 pm  EST
Where: Paladin Stadium, Greenville, SC
Radio: Catamount Sports Network
Talent:  Play-by-Play: Gary Ayers;  Color Analyst: Daniel Hooker; Host / Producer: Jeff Bryson
TV / videoESPN+   &  CW62
Game Notes:      WCU  -        Furman     -        SoCon Weekly Release
Message Board (Furman):  GoPaladin.com
The Series: The Cats are only 12-31-2 overall against the Paladins in the series.

The last game played vs. Furman:  October 28, 2017 - Catamounts Drop Homecoming Game to Furman, 28-6 - Furman's Antonio Wilcox rushed for a career-high 202 yards and a score while backfield teammate Kealand Dirks added a pair of scores and 119 yards on the ground as the Paladins rushed past No. 18/20 Western Carolina, 28-6, on a rain-soaked Homecoming Saturday at E.J. Whitmire Stadium / Bob Waters Field. The win was the sixth-straight for the Paladins after starting the season at 0-3, while WCU saw its four-game home winning streak snapped. Furman moved into a tie for first place in the SoCon with an upstate rival, Wofford, while WCU slipped into a tie with Samford for third overall.

Games that the Paladins played prior to the WCU contest:   3 with a fourth game canceled.  The preseason #2 ranked Paladins opened the season in Clemson, SC with a 48-7 defeat at the hands of the Tigers, then traveled to Elon, NC only to be taken down 45-7 by the Phoenix. Game three scheduled in Traveler's Rest with Colgate was canceled due to Hurricane Florence.  Expecting to get back on the right track, the Paladins then traveled to Johnson City, TN to play the preseason 8th ranked Bucs, only to have those expectations dashed by a 2 point loss to ETSU.

Last Season's Record (Furman): 2017 - 8-5 overall, 4-1 home, 4-4 away,  6-2 SoCon  - SoCon losses were to Wofford and Samford

Offensive Formation: Multiple
Defensive Formation: 3-4
Starters returning/lost:  18  /  7
Offensive starters - Returning/Lost:   5  /  6
Defensive starters - Returning/Lost:  10  /  1
Specialist - Returning/Lost:    3  /  2

Key Personnel Lost  -
Offense -  QB - P.J. Blazejowski; All-SoCon RB - Antonio Wilcox; All-SoCon TE - Andy Schumpert, All-SoCon LG - Terrell Bush, All-American C - Matthew Schmidt, SE - Logan McCarter, P - J.C. Hollingsworth, PR - Logan McCarter,

Defense -  All-SoCon Freshman LB - Reynard Ellis

This football season has been a huge disappointment for the Paladins so far and has not proceeded as they expected, with the loss to Clemson, the super beatdown by FCS opponent Elon, and a road loss to SoCon foe ETSU has the Paladins with their backs to the wall. Furman will have to win out to meet their preseason expectations of defending their SoCon title and another run at the NCAA football playoffs. This is a big game also for the Cats as well. who are looking to open the season at 4-0 for the first time since the 1960's.   In the ETSU loss, Furman went back to their senior QB, Harris Roberts. Roberts started the opener at Clemson game but played only the first three snaps. A preseason injury to his throwing hand was not yet healed. He did not play at Elon.

At the end of last season, the Paladins lost their offensive coordinator, Drew Cronic to the head coaching position at Lenior Rhyne University. Furman head coach Clay Hendrix moved asst. coach George Quarles' from tight ends coach to offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach and hired Connor Shaw as the Paladins' new tight ends coach. IMO, the loss of Cronic has had a major negative impact on the Paladin offense, as well as has the loss of BJ Blazejowski.

This is Quarles first stint as an offensive coordinator, coming to Furman as a successful high school head coach in Tennessee. Other situations on the offensive side of the ball required that the Paladins to replace 6 starters due to graduation, including starting quarterback PJ Blazejowski, All-American center Matthew Schmidt, All-SoCon running back Antonio Wilcox, and All-SoCon tight end Andy Schumpert, who caught 32 passes for 652 yards and a team-leading nine touchdowns en route to earning consensus All-Southern Conference honors.  These are major losses on offense for the Paladins, and it shows this season.

The defensive side of the ball should be the Paladians strength in 2018, as they lost only one starter, but All-SoCon Freshman team LB - Reynard Ellis.  Furman was very young last season on the defensive side of the ball and finished 3d overall in scoring defense in the SoCon.

Lineup Changes: Furman’s starting lineup versus ETSU included a two players making their starting debuts, sophomore Cole Neely at center and redshirt freshman Matt Sochovka at defensive tackle. Redshirt senior Harris Roberts returned to the starting lineup against ETSU as well, completing 10-of-21 passes for 149 yards in the 29-27 loss. Roberts earned the first start of his career against Clemson on Sept. 2, but played only one series before giving way to redshirt freshman JeMar Lincoln. Nine Paladins have made their career starting debuts this season, with center Cole Neely and defensive tackle Matt Sochovka the latest to join the group last Saturday against ETSU.

2018 Furman Statistics  (3 games):
Rushing Offense: 451 yards
Yards per game: 150.3
Yards per rush: 3.1 yards
Rushing 1st downs: 30
TDs rushing: 4
Passing Offense: 262 yards or 87.3 yards per game
Avg. per pass: 12.5 yards
Passing 1st downs: 12
Passing Comp-Att-Int: 21-45-1
TDs Passing: 1
Total Offense: 713 yards or 237.7 yards per game
Fumbles-Lost: 10-4
3d Down Conversions: 15 of 43 (35%)
4th Down Conversions: 0 of 2 (0%)
Field goal attempts: 2 - 4
PAT-Attempts: 55 of 55 (100%)
On-side kicks: 0-1
Red Zone Scores: 7 of 9 (78%)
Red Zone Touchdowns: 5 of 9 (56%)
Punts - Yards: 19 - 751 - Avg per punt: 39.5

Game prediction:  Per the Massey Ratings, the Cats only have a 30% probability of winning (28-35) over the Paladins.

My Prediction:  According to Massey, the Cats should be 3-1 after this game.  I'm going to dissagree, the Cats win the battle and are 4-0 after this game.


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