Monday, July 25, 2016

2016 Football Preseason Preview: Furman

Throughout this preseason, Purple & Gold will preview all of Western's 2016 football opponents. Today we look at the Furman Paladins. 

For their tenth game of the season, the Catamounts travel down the mountain to Greenville, SC to meet the Paladins.

The Cats trail Furman 12-29-2 all-time in the series that dates back to 1971, when Western Carolina joined the Southern Conference.


When: Saturday, November 12th -  Time 4:00 pm ET

Where: Paladian Stadium, Greenville, SC

Radio: Catamount Sports Network

TV / video: ESPN3

The Series:  The Cats have won the last two in the series. winning the last game played at Furman by a final score of 35-17.

Head Coach: Bruce Fowler -
Named Furman University’s head football coach on Dec. 13, 2010, Bruce Fowler, in four years has firmly applied his stamp on a Paladin football program he has served for a quarter century as a player, assistant coach, and head coach. In 2013 Fowler’s Paladins, a consensus preseason No. 7 pick in a pair of Southern Conference polls, engineered one of the most impressive mid-season turnarounds in collegiate football. Forced to contend with injuries to the squad’s top three quarterbacks over the first six games, Furman struggled to a 2-4 record at mid-season before hitting stride, winning its last five league games to en route to capturing a share of the program’s 13th SoCon championship and the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) playoffs — the Paladins’ first postseason appearance since 2006.

Last year’s record (Furman):  4-7 overall, 2-3 home, 2-4 away (2-5 SoCon)

Last Season's Game vs. Furman (November 7, 2014):
Catamounts Cruise Past Furman to Close Home Season, 48-10 - Troy Mitchell recorded 360 yards of total offense and accounted for five touchdowns as Western Carolina used a total team effort to close the home portion of its regular season with a 48-10 victory over the Furman Paladins on Saturday afternoon in Southern Conference action at E.J. Whitmire Stadium / Bob Waters Field. Mitchell threw for 305 yards and three touchdowns, adding two scores on the ground and 55 yards as WCU put an exclamation point on an unbeaten home regular season - its first since 1986 and only the second in Division I history.

Offensive starters - Returning/Lost: 6 / 5

Defensive starters - Returning/Lost:  7  / 4

Specialist - Returning/Lost:  2  / 1

Offensive Formation: Multiple

Defensive Formation: Multiple

2015 Paladin Statistics:
Rushing Offense: 1300 yards
Yards per game: 118
Yards per rush: 3.3 yards
TDs rushing: 12
Passing Offense: 2206 yards or 201 yards per game
Passing Comp-Att-Int: 181-328-12
TDs passing: 11
Total Offense: 3506 yards or 319 yards per game
Passing 1st downs: 96
Rushing 1st downs: 83
Fumbles-Lost: 19 - 8
3d Down Conversions: 62 of 163 or 38%
4th Down Conversions: 9 of 15 or 60%
Field Goals - Attempts: 9 of 12
Red-Zone Scores: 21 of 25 (84%)
Red-Zone Touchdowns: 15 of 25 (60%)
Punts (No. Yards): 67 (2609 yds) Avg. per punt: 39 yds
PAT-Attempts: 20 of 21 - 95%
Field Goals-Attempts: 9 of 12
On-Side Kicks: 0 of 1

Reese Hannon returns as the favorite in the race for the QB job. Hannon played in nine games last fall and completed six TDs passes, but added 6 picks. PJ Blazejowski played in six games, but fared little better. The running game for the Paladins was anemic last season, and with Ernie Cane, who led the team with six rushing TDs last season gone, the running game looks to be a problem area as well. On defense, the Paladins gave up over 222 yards rushing per game last season, and will be a big area of concern again for Furman.

On offense the Paladins return 6 starters: Jackson Buonomia (OT), Duncan Fletcher (TE), Reese Hannon (QB), Matthew Schmidt (OT), Andrej Suttles (FLK), and Antonio Wilcox (RB). On defense 7 starters are back: Jordan Hawkins (NT), Byron Johnson (SS), Jamarri Milliken (CB), Brad Minter (DE), Carl Rider (LB), Trey Robinson (S), and Brian Ross (DE).

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