|Posted by Alexander Dodd on September 4, 2015 at 9:35 AM|
Travelers Rest, SC (August 27, 2105)—Eighty-five degrees, a light breeze, and a shady courtyard covered in a sea of purple and white. This is how a few hundred Paladin fans spent their Saturday night.
This past weekend marked two weeks until the Furman football team is set to host Coastal Carolina and also the annual Furman Paladin Fan Fest.
Surrounding all of the autographs, giveaways, and raffles were a lot of question marks. What sort of team will take the field on September 5th? Can the Paladin team, riddled with injuries this past season, rebound from the disappointment of 3-8? And the question that is most prevalent, can they compete for a SoCon Championship?
Going into last season the answer to the last question seemed to be a definitive yes, but key injuries left the Paladins bruised and demoralized. This year’s season seems to have a buzz of freshness and new life surrounding it.
For starters, the Paladins return 19 starters from a year ago, including Junior Quarterback Reese Hannon. Hannon was named a captain for the third straight year the first time a Furman player has done so in the 110 year history of the program. Hannon fell plague to an ankle injury last season against Gardener Webb preventing him from leading last year’s team on the field.
The Paladins also boast Pre-season All-Americans in TE Duncan Fletcher and LB Cory Magwood. On defense the Paladins also return Carl Rider who missed all of last season with an injury. Needless to say this team has the talent.
It will be no easy road for Furman in 2015. The Paladins open the season at home with preseason number 5 Coastal Carolina. CCU has won three straight Big South Titles and ended last season in the quarterfinals of the FCS Playoffs.
Dan Moglia has taken the Chanticleers to new heights, finishing in the top ten each of the last two seasons and having an overall record of 32-10 over three years. Moglia also received nominations for FCS National Coach of the Year each of the last two seasons.
The following two weeks send the Paladins on a two game road stretch to Blacksburg, VA and Orlando, FL where they take on FBS foes in Virginia Tech and Central Florida.
With a schedule that is so top heavy leading into conference play Furman’s goal is simple, in the words of Paladin play-by-play broadcaster Dan Scott, “beat Coastal Carolina.”
Achieving this one goal is absolutely critical to the success or failure of the 2015 season. While it is a non-conference game there is a huge difference between 0-3 and 1-2 in FCS football.
Following the UCF game the Paladins play host to the Virginia Military Institute in their first Southern Conference game. Wins versus Coastal and VMI would provide exponential boosts to the moral of a Furman team who a year ago was starving for success. Another key point for the first three contests is remaining healthy.
The Paladins do not have the depth to contend with FBS foes at this point early in the season so ‘surviving’ in Blacksburg and Orlando are more than critical. A key injury on either side of the ball would spell bad news for Furman and could cause a repeat of 2014.
You can look forward to more coverage of Furman Paladin athletics this season on the Sports Connecter Online at www.sportsconnecetoronline.com as well as on Dodd Sports Network.