by: Alex Welch
The Furman Paladins travel to Clinton, S.C. on Saturday to take on the Presbyterian Blue Hose for the first time at Bailey Memorial Stadium since 1975. CSS will provide live coverage at noon, with Chuck Hussion and Corey Stewart calling the game in the booth.
It's been a rough start to the year for both squads. Furman has yet to capture a victory in 2012, losing to Samford, Coastal Carolina and Clemson the previous three weeks. Presbyterian enters Week 4 with a 1-2 record overall, losing to two FBS teams, Georgia Tech and Vanderbilt.
Although the Paladins haven't stepped onto the field in Clinton in over 30 years, they've hosted the Blue Hose 16 times back home in Greenville since then. Furman currently sits on a 13-game win streak against Presbyterian, winning most recently 62-21 in 2011.
In their quest for the first win of the season, Furman will look to continue it's impressive run against its in-state Big South foe. Can Presbyterian snap the streak and move to 2-2?
What to watch for:
1) Furman quarterback Reese Hannon has played well since entering the game for Dakota Derrick against Coastal Carolina. The true freshman made his first start against Clemson and completed 19 of 29 passes for 235 yards and the only touchdown for his squad.
2) The Paladins offense continues to rely on senior running back Jerodis Williams, who rushed for 87 yards on 19 carries against the Tigers last week. He now has 270 yards and two touchdowns on the year. Last season he racked up 95 yards on 17 carries against the Blue Hose.
3) Wide receivers Will King and Ryan Culbreath provide two solid targets for Hannon. Culbreath has 15 receptions for 200 yards and two touchdowns, whil King sits at 14 catches for 250 yards and two touchdowns as well.
4) Pass defense is not a strong point for the Paladins right now. After allowing 274 yards per game through the air in the first three games, they rank 100th nationally in FCS play. The secondary will have a chance to boost its confidence against a Blue Hose offense that loves to run.
5) Can the Paladins keep up their impressive streak? A win will mark 14 straight, adding to the 41-11-1 all-time record they hold over their in-state opponent. Furman has Presbyterian's number, there's no denying that.
6) For the Blue Hose, senior running back Lance Byrd sets the tone for the ground game. He's tallied 236 yards on 45 carries in 2012. Presbyterian is averaging 144 yards rushing per game, while Furman's opponents are finishing with 149 yards running the ball.
7) Senior wideout Michael Ruff surpassed 1,000 career receiving yards against Vanderbilt, and is now just 196 yards away from moving into second place on Presbyterian's all-time receiving list. Ruff also makes an impact in the return game for the Blue Hose. He returned seven kickoffs for 207 yards and one 92-yard touchdown in the first three games.
8) Demarcus Rouse rushed for three touchdowns in the opener against Brevard. The sophomore running back set not only a personal best, but he tied a Presbyterian single-game record for most scores. The Blue Hose has not scored a single touchdown in the past two weeks, so another breakout performance from Rouse can buck that trend.
9) The Blue Hose have converted just eight of 40 third-down opportunities. A 20 percent conversion rate won't cut it going forward.
10) Presbyterian has to find a way to put more pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Recording just three sacks in three games, the defense hasn't made much of an impact here. Keep in mind, though, the level of play they've been matched up against.
by: Alex Welch