By Anthony McClean, Editor In Chief Emeritus NEW HAVEN (BASN) —...
BASN Midterms: Grading The Triad’s College Grid Teams
NORTH CAROLINA — After six weeks of football action here in the Triad, I thought we would give out some midterm grades to the teams we previewed prior to the season.
Appalachian State University:
Prediction for 2006: The defending National Champs have the personnel, talent, ability, discipline and confidence to not only make the playoffs but repeat. The key is Trey Elder and his ability to lead the Mountaineer offense back to the top in scoring while not feeling the pressure of losing one of his confidants and friends in Richie Williams.
The pressure and weight of success is also on the returning receivers that will need to make plays to take the pressure off Elder in his 1st full year as a starter(we are projecting him as such).
If the offense doesn’t make mistakes, scores in the red zone as they did in 2005 and the defense can remain opportunistic, the optimism for the Mountaineers repeating will be on solid ground. 9-2 Regular season record (6-1 in the Southern Conference). (Conference Champions and National Champs once again)
Current record this year: 5-1 overall, 2-0 in the Southern Conference (loss to NC State, wins over James Madison, Mars Hill, Gardner-Webb, Elon and Chattanooga).
After five games, the defending champion Mountaineers are a game better than I expected them to be with five wins and a loss and if they played a complete game versus the Wolfpack they could be looking at 6-0. With five games remaining(home vs Wofford, at Georgia Southern, home versus Furman and the Citadel and at Western Carolina), the schedule sets up for them to conceivably win all 5 games because of the surprise mediocrity in the Southern Conference this year.
The toughest games left for the Mountaineers are at home vs. Furman(4-1, 2-0 in the SoCon) and at the perennial powerhouse Georgia Southern(2-2,1-1). Wins against both teams are conceivable which would give the defending champions one extra victory than I anticipated. They’ll need to continue to show an explosive offense that’s scored at least 41 points in four straight games including 56 last week at Chattanooga.
Grade: The Mountaineers are right on target and them some. A+
Wake Forest University:
Prediction for 2006: With their first five opponents being Syracuse, Duke, UConn Ol’ Miss and Liberty, the team could get off to a 5-0 start (They did). A 5-0 start can not only give them momentum going into their game of the year against Clemson (They lost the game late), it can only breed confidence and excitement.
That kind of excitement that has not been on campus for football in quite some time but is the kind that is needed and I’m sure coach Grobe and his staff welcomes it.
Current record this year: 5-1overall, 1-1 in the ACC(Wins at home over Syracuse, Duke, Liberty and wins over Ole Miss and UCONN on the road and a loss at home to Clemson).
The Deacons like I predicted, played well with poise and confidence through the first half of their season. This is even more impressive after the team loss starting quarterback Benjamin Mauck and running back Micah Andrews to season ending injuries. The Deacons have one this year on offense and defense and they’ve made big plays in the special teams.
If not for a late go-ahead touchdown by C.J. Spiller and defensive lineman Gaines Adams fumble recovery for a touchdown, Wake Forest would have beaten then No. 15 Clemson and would be staring at an early bowl eligible 6th win. The schedule gets tough for the Deacons the second half of the season with games at N.C. State, Florida State and Maryland, the road to an improbable 10-win season seems unlikely but who knows with this gritty and exciting Wake Forest team.
Grade: I’m not surprised by the Deacons start. Lets see how theyl finished. A
North Carolina A & T:
Prediction for 2006: The Aggies are very young and inexperienced on both sides of the ball. Losing starters is one thing, but asking freshmen or inexperienced players at key positions such as quarterback or linebacker is a lot to ask of young warriors like the Aggies have any when they are trying their very best to get the job done in a very touch conference like the MEAC.
With tough games at Division I-A Louisiana-Lafayette, a home game against Florida A&M and conference road games on the road vs Hampton, Norfolk State and Bethune-Cookman and their traditional clash versus South Carolina State makes the road to a winning season extremely difficult for Coach Fobbs in his first year.
The Aggies will be competitive and Fobbs is a winner with a proven track record. If given time he will have the Aggies on the winning road years to come. Unfortunately, not this year. 4-7.
Current record this year: 0-5 overall, 0-3 in the MEAC(losses at home to WSSU and Morgan State and losses on the road to Hampton, Louisiana Lafayette and Norfolk State).
As expected, the 1st year for Aggie head coach Lee Fobbs has been an enormous challenged because of the youth inexperience the Aggies have especially on offense. Shuffling quarterbacks, lineman and running backs has made it difficult to create some continuity on the offensive side of the ball. Mistakes, turnovers and penalties have led to the winless season thus far.
I thought the Aggies however would have two wins and the win was supposed to come against MEAC newcomer the Winston Salem State, especially since it was the Aggies first game of the season at home. The second would have been against Louisiana-Lafayette.
That didn’t happen and the second half of the season doesn’t look promising either especially with games at Delaware State and Bethune-Cookman and a home game against Florida A & M and a game in Charlotte which will seem like a road game versus S.C. State.
I do think they will get home wins versus the Phoenix of Elon and a victory against Howard for homecoming. Let’s hope I’m wrong about the second half as I was about the first.
Grade: I knew it would be tough, but not this tough. C
Winston Salem State University:
Prediction for 2006: The Rams are very young and inexperience on offense and still trying to master the 3-5-3 scheme on defense. Those factors and the upgrade of talent they will face in the MEAC can equal a very long season for the Rams in terms of wins and losses.
Coach Blount will have them ready to battle regardless but it may not be enough for a winning season especially with games versus perennial MEAC powers like Florida A&M, South Carolina State, Hampton, and Norfolk State. 3-8.
Current record this year: 2-4 overall(No official conference record because they are not a full member of the MEAC)(a win at home versus Howard and a win in Greensboro versus NC A & T and losses at Catawba and FAMU and losses at home to South Carolina State and Coastal Carolina).
The Winston Salem State University Rams may be the most intriguing team of all in this article because they are so unpredictable. When they run the ball well, take care of the ball on offense and the defense plays well, they look like a team that’s unbeatable. When they don’t run the ball well, turn the ball over and the defense doesn’t play well, they look like they should take a step back into a lower division.
After six games, I envisioned the Rams at 2-4, but the record could have been even better. Tough losses at Catawba and Florida A & M and an upset win at NC A&T, could have had a record more reflective of their play at 5-1.
An inconsistent offense and lack of an identity and imagination on the same side of the ball has been a huge factor and could be in their final five games. The positive thing to mention is the Rams defense, that continuously keeps the game close in the hope the offense can score enough to win.
Quarterback Monte Purvis has looked confident at times but confused a other times and must step up his play especially with tough games left at Bethune-Cookman, at powerhouse Hampton and at Norfolk State.
I look for the Rams to win at least two of their remaining five games and still finished one game above my prediction prior to the season thanks to a big win against the Aggies. Hope for more Ram fans. If the Ram put together solid games for 60 minutes, they have the potential to finish over .500.
Grade: A lot depended on Purvis and the offense and they’ve been inconsistent but I give them a slight pass because WSSU doesn’t have an offense coordinator or quarterback coach to work with Purvis specifically which is tough for an inexperienced quarterback trying to establish himself. B-
Guilford College:Prediction for 2006:With talented starters and reserves returning for the upcoming season this year’s Quaker team should be an exciting one once again for coach Kiesel and his staff although they have very tough games on the road against ODAC rivals Hampden-Sydney, Washington & Lee, Randolph-Macon, and Emory & Henry. I look for the team to surprise and improve by one game this year at 6-4.
Current record this year: 3-2 overall 0-1 in the ODAC (wins at home vs Ferrum and Greensboro College, won at Methodist, loss at Averett and Hampden-Sydney).
The Quakers got off to a great start this season winning their first two games, but back to back losses left them even at 2-2 going into their rivalry game against Greensboro College on homecoming weekend. The Quakers pulled off the victory in a wild double overtime victory improving their record to 3-2 going into their bye week.
At 3-2, the Quakers are exactly where I predicted they would be after five games and if they stay on course and continue to surprise, a perfect second half will mark a 1 game improvement from last year which is something coach Kiesel would be thrilled to accomplish.
It won’t be easy to get to six wins with three of their last five games on the road including games at Washington and Lee and at Randolph-Macon. Also all of their remaining games are conference games.
But the Quakers are a team that battles so they have a chance. Something coach Kiesel would be thrilled to accomplish.
Grade: Guilford would have received a higher mark but I thought the defense would play a little better than they have even though I knew that would be the Quakers’ weak point.
A stronger defense could have led to a couple more wins and if they can step up in the second half, the sky is the limit for this team because the offense will score and score often. A-