Thursday, June 26, 2014

Looking at Game 4, Furman University

Who:   Furman University Paladins

When:  Saturday, September 27, 2014 at 3:00 pm

Where:  Paladin Stadium, Greenville, SC

Series history:  Western Carolina trails Furman 10-29-2 all-time in a series that dates back to 1971, when the Cats joined the Southern Conference. WCU has lost 15 of the last 16  meetings, having dropped eight straight to the Paladins. Western Carolina’s last win over Furman came in 2005 when the Catamounts handed then nationally second-ranked Furman a 41-21 defeat in Cullowhee.

Their coach:  Bruce Fowler - Fowler is entering his 4th season as head coach at Furman. In 2013, the Paladins were picked 7th in the preseason poll, but overcame adversity to at season's end, share the conference championship with Samford and Chattanooga.

Last year’s record:  8-6 overall, 6-2 SoCon - The Paladins won a share of the 2013 SoCon Football Championship, sharing the crown with Chattanooga and Samford.  Furman was the SoCon auto qualifier to the NCAA FCS football tournament.   Final Paladin rankings - #21 (FCS Coaches); #22 (Sports Network)

How they got there: The Paladins opened the 2013 season on the road against a couple of Big South opponents.  In Boiling Springs, NC  Furman dropped their season opener against Gardner-Webb by a final score of 21-28.  The following week, the Paladins traveled to Conway, SC and lost to Coastal Carolina 28-35. In week three, the Paladins faced another Big South foe, this time in Greenville, SC as Presbyterian held on strong against the Paladins, losing by only a single point, 21-20 giving Furman their first win of the season.  In their first conference game of the season, the Paladins next traveled to Charleston, SC and picked up their second win over The Citadel Bulldogs.  Furman then dropped their next two SoCon contests, one to Elon in Greenville, 35-28 then to Chattanooga on the road, 9-31. Furman also split their next two games, picking up a win over ASU in Greenville and losing on the road at LSU (16-48).  Furman then rolled out four wins to close out conference play, picking up wins over GSU (14-14); Samford (35-17); WCU (32-20); and Wofford (27-14).  Furman won a playoff game against SC State, before losing to eventual FCS champion North Dakota State in the quarterfinals.

Last season's game vs. Furman:  The Paladins won, 32-20 in Cullowhee.   Furman placekicker, Ray Early, kicked six field goals in the game, setting a Furman school record and matched the E.J. Whitmire Stadium / Bob Waters Field record held by former Catamount Josh Jones who kicked six field goals against Samford in 1999.  The Cats produced one more first down in the game (19-18), as well as,  total more yards in offense (434-412) than Furman.  The Cats however fumbled 4 times, losing the ball twice.

Lettermen Returning:  42  Offense - 21; Defense  - 21

Offensive starters Returning/Lost:  7  /  4

Defensive starters Returning/Lost:  8  /  3

Basic Offense:  Multiple

Basic Defense:  Multiple

Rushing Offense:  147.0 yards per game
Passing Offense:  170.4 yards per game
Total Offense:  318.3 yards per game
Scoring Offense:  22.7 per game
Fumbles-Lost:   18 - 7
Penalties-Yards:  41.8 avg per game
3rd Down Conversions:  73 - 184  40%
4th Down Conversions:  8 - 16  50%
Field Goals - Attempts:  30 - 25
Red-Zone Scores:  32 - 40 45%
Red-Zone Touchdowns:  18 - 40  45%

Losses/Weaknesses:  9 starters lost
Key Losses - Starters on Offense: Ryan Culbreath (WR), Dakota Dozier (OT), Cameron Mason (TE), Eric Thoni (C) Starters on Defense: Jairus Hollman, Austin Williams (CB), Greg Worthy (SS) - Specialists:  Ray Early (PK & P)

Strengths: In the SoCon Media Day, the Paladins were selected in a tie with Samford for an end of season finish in second place.  A total of seven Paladins were selected for the All Conference teams,  defensive end Gary Wilkins, linebackers Marcus McMorris and Carl Rider, and cornerback Reggie Thomas. Offensively, the Paladins had three first team selections, including lineman Charles Emert, running back Hank McCloud, and wide receiver Andrej Suttles. Garnering second team accolades were quarterback Reese Hannon, offensive lineman Joe Turner, defensive lineman Ira McCune, and safety Trey Robinson.

Returning Leaders:  Starters on Offense: Ernie Cain (FB), Charlet Emert (OT), Reese Hannon (QB), Hank McCloud (RB), Tank Philips (OG), Andrej Suttles (WR), Joe Turner (OG) - Starters on Defense:  Jordan Hawkins (DT), John Mackey (NT), Cory Magwood (LB), Ira McCune (DE), Marcus McMorris (FS), Carl Rider (LB), Reggie Thomas (CB), Gary Wilkins (LB) - 44 Lettermen Returning

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