Furman Looking to End Four-Game Skid Against Elon Saturday

John Hooper@soconjohn22Correspondent IIOctober 27, 2012

WHO: Furman (2-6, 1-4 SoCon) at Elon (3-4, 1-3 SoCon)

WHEN: Oct. 27, 2012, 3 p.m.

WHERE: Elon, N.C., Rhodes Stadium (13,000)

GREENVILLE, S.C.—When Furman has met Elon the past couple of seasons on the Southern Conference gridiron, it's been a team looking to keep alive or enhance its playoff aspirations, but when the Paladins pay a visit to Rhodes Stadium on Saturday afternoon, playoffs will be far from the minds of the Paladin players.

With Furman's 38-17 loss to No. 3 Georgia Southern at Paladin Stadium, the Paladins were assured of their second losing season in the past three campaigns.

Furman's 2-6 start this season is its worst start in 33 years, and the Paladins haven't faced the prospects of ending a season with fewer than three wins since the 1994 season, when the Paladins finished 3-8. They got a late-October win at East Tennessee State to notch the Paladins' third win of the campaign, under former legendary Furman head coach Bobby Johnson in his rookie coaching season.

The Paladins come into Saturday's game looking to end a three-game losing skid, and the season has been a frustrating one for now second-year head coach Bruce Fowler. Since a 41-34 loss to Elon on Nov. 12 last season, the Paladins have lost eight of their last 10 games, with wins against teams with a combined record of 3-13 this season, as Furman has claimed wins over both Presbyterian (31-21) and Western Carolina (45-24).

It would seem somewhat hard to believe that the Paladins knocked off two Top Five-ranked FCS foes, and is a team that built a 22-7 lead on Florida in The Swamp in the 2011 regular-season finale. But, the Paladins have never been been able to find that "mojo" that they had throughout the 2011 season, and though the Paladins have seen some close, heartbreaking losses to the likes of Wofford (20-17) and Samford (24-21) this season, it's a team that lacks the experience and talent of the 2011 squad, which posted a 6-5 mark and wins over both No. 3 Appalachian State (20-10) and No.4 Wofford (26-21) in Greenville.

While there's no reason to sound the alarm, it has no doubt been a frustrating season for Furman players and its few but faithful fans. The reality of Furman's struggles this season came further into focus in the waning moments of Georgia Southern's 21-point win at Paladin Stadium last Saturday. With the win in the bag, Georgia Southern put a meaningless TD on the board courtesy of Dominique Swope to increase its advantage to 36-17 with just under 20 seconds remaining.

Then, inexplicably, Georgia Southern opted to attempt a two-point conversion, and converted to set the final scoreline at 38-17. Whatever the prevailing opinion of the decision to go for the two-point conversion is on both sides, it's pretty safe to say these are different times for Furman football.

In a similar situation in the early 2000s, it's safe to say that Paul Johnson or Mike Sewak would have considered such decisions as treacherous.

Knowing that Furman was a formidable FCS power, year-in and year-out, and knowing both were conference brethren, those coaches would have most undoubtedly been against such decisions.

However, whatever one may think of the actions conducted by the Georgia Southern coaching staff on Saturday, one fact cannot be denied: this Furman football program is not what it once was, and it remains a program battling to find its way back to the lofty perch it once occupied.

The Paladins certainly have a tall order in front of them on Saturday, as they face an Elon team that has gained confidence over the past few weeks, and is the team that has effectively ended Furman's playoff hopes each of the last two seasons.

Last season's 41-34 loss handed the then-17th-ranked Paladins their fourth loss of the campaign, and with Florida the only game left on the schedule, it left the Paladins needing to defeat the Gators in The Swamp to make its first postseason appearance since 2006.

Fowler now hopes to avoid becoming the first Furman head coach to fail to win three games in a season since Bob King's 1972 Paladins, which finished 2-9.

Fowler enters Saturday's contest holding an 8-11 mark at the helm of the Furman football program. One thing that is apparent for both Furman and Fowler—and which may be a big positive for the future—is the amount of talented underclassmen on the roster. This includes five true or redshirt freshmen starting on the offensive side of the football for the Paladins this season.

Meanwhile, Fowler's counterpart is Jason Swepson, who is in his second season at the helm of the Elon program since taking over for the highly successful Pete Lembo. Lembo, before leaving to take over the head coaching post at Ball State, helped put the Phoenix football program on the map as a relative newcomer to the Division I Football Championship Subdivision.

Lembo led the Phoenix to its first and only postseason appearance as a Division I football-playing member, and helped take the program to the brink of a Southern Conference crown just three years ago. Elon finished the season with a 9-3 overall record.

Swepson certainly inherited a lot of talented football players brought in by Lembo, among them being one of the best receivers to ever play in the SoCon: senior wideout Aaron Mellette. But it was a frustrating 2011 season for Swepson's Phoenix, which saw them post their first sub-.500 mark (5-6) since the 2006 season.

Swepson enters his 18th game as head coach of the Elon football program with a 7-10 record at the helm, but his is a team that has seemingly maintained the status quo this season.

Elon, like Furman, has suffered through some heartbreaking losses this season, and one of those setbacks came to league leader Georgia Southern (26-23) in Statesboro. The Phoenix were also competitive in Boone against highly ranked Appalachian State before falling, 35-23.

It could certainly be argued that Swepson's biggest win as Elon's head coach came against Furman last season, as the Phoenix went on the road and came away from Paladin Stadium with the 41-34 win over the then-No. 17-ranked Paladins.

It is the only win over a ranked foe that Swepson owns as head coach of the Phoenix.

The way the matchup sets up, it certainly would seem to favor the Phoenix, given Elon's ability to throw the football. Saturday's matchup between the Phoenix and Paladins will mark the 16th meeting between the two schools, with the Paladins holding a 10-5 all-time series edge.  The Phoenix were able to end a three-game losing streak, which all came to teams ranked inside the Top 15 in the FCS polls, as Elon was impressive throwing the football with a 42-31 win over Western Carolina.

Saturday's game offers a chance for Furman to continue to grow as a football team, and a road win for the Phoenix would do much in the way of morale for a Paladin team that is down on its luck and confidence right now. Elon is a team that knows what it feels like to lose tough football games, and it got a confidence boost with the impressive home win against the Catamounts last week.

It should be a good football game on Saturday afternoon.

Game Preview

Elon comes into Saturday's contest against the Paladins well on its way to claiming the SoCon passing crown for an eighth-straight campaign. The Phoenix showed its explosiveness in last week's 42-31 win over the Catamounts, throwing for 412 yards and racking up 511 yards of total offense against the Catamount defense in the victory.

The Elon offense comes in ranked 43rd nationally in total offense (395.0 YPG), 50th in scoring offense (27.7 PPG), 10th in passing offense (290.8 YPG), and 103rd in rushing offense (104.1 YPG).

For the third-straight week, Furman will face off against the reigning Southern Conference Offensive Player of the Week. Phoenix senior quarterback Thomas Wilson (143-of-224 passing, 2,005 yds, 18 TDs, 8 INTs/35 rush att, 51 yds, 1.5 YPC) had his way with the Western Carolina passing defense last Saturday, as he connected on 20-of-28 passes for 412 yards, five TDs and an INT.

Wilson is one of the league's top quarterbacks and has really grown in his decision-making this season, making smarter throws and keeping his interception total down, as he threw 18 picks last season. The senior from Raleigh, N.C., had a big afternoon against the Paladins last season, as he led Elon to a 41-34 win over then-No. 17 Furman.

In that win, Wilson connected on 20-of-26 passes for 279 yards, with four TDs and an INT.

It certainly helps Swepson that he has one of the best wide receivers to ever play in the Southern Conference, in classmate Aaron Mellette (55 catches, 814 yds, 13 TDs, 14.8 YPR). Mellete was once again in strong form last Saturday's win over Western Carolina, hauling in five passes for 154 yards and three TDs.

With another jaw-dropping performance in a career that has been chock-full of them, Mellette moved even farther up the SoCon all-time receiving ledger, surpassing former Marshall great Mike Barber and former Citadel Bulldog standout receiver Andre Roberts to move into the top three receivers in a couple of categories.

His 154 receiving yards puts him at 3,670 yards in career receiving yards, allowing Mellette to pass Barber while his career-high tying three scoring catches surpassed Roberts in career scoring catches, with 39 career TD receptions.

Mellette also played a large role in allowing the Phoenix to come to Greenville and pull off a 41-34 win over the Paladins last season, as Furman's pass defense—like much of the league over the past three-and-a-half seasons—had little success in slowing the versatile wideout.

He finished that afternoon with eight catches for 144 yards and a couple of scores in the win. His 55-yard scoring reception with a little under nine minutes remaining in the game against the Paladins last season broke a 27-27 deadlock and gave Elon a lead it would not relinquish.

Mellette is a Walter Payton Award candidate, and yes, he might be the best receiver the Paladins have faced this season, and that includes Clemson's DeAndre Hopkins and Sammy Watkins. In his career against the Paladins, Mellette has hauled in 14 passes for 251 yards and a couple of scores.

Mellette will be joined this Saturday by fellow Phoenix wide receivers Jeremy Peterson (22 rec, 305 yds, 13.8 YPR) and Rasaun Rorie (15 rec, 127 yds, 1 TD, 8.5 YPR).

A receiver that doesn't start, but is just as valuable as a starter for the Phoenix as a part of this potent passing attack is Kierre Brown (25 rec, 406 yds, 2 TDs).

Brown is Elon's second-leading receiver and has done plenty to take the pressure off of Mellette this season, and has also benefited from Mellette drawing most of the attention. Brown, a speedy 5'9" sophomore, is easily having his best season catching the football for the Phoenix, and like Mellette, is a threat on the deep ball.

Set to start at the tight end position for the Phoenix on Saturday will be senior Chris Harris (7 rec, 153 yds, 2 TDs, 21.9 YPR), who has done an excellent job of catching the football for Elon this season. Harris, like Furman preseason All-America selection Colin Anderson, has tremendous hands and is also an excellent athlete. In fact, Harris is one of the best athletes on the offensive side of the ball for the Phoenix, as evidenced by his 21.9 yards-per-catch average coming into Saturday's contest.

In seven of the past eight seasons, it is fair to say Elon's strength hasn't been the ground attack, but the Phoenix were able to run the ball effectively against the Paladins last season in the 41-34 victory, rushing for 163 yards as a part of Elon's 442-yard output.

Leading the ground game this season has been Karl Bostick (90 rush att, 306yds, 2 TDs, 3.4 YPC/4 rec, 22 yds, 5.5 YPR), a solid ground threat for the Phoenix this season after transferring into the program from the University of Akron. The 5-9, 200-pound running back has good speed and power, and with his speed is a big-play threat if he breaks into the secondary.

Bostick has excellent support in the offensive backfield for the Phoenix, as both Tracey Coppedge (64 rush att, 233 yds, 2 TDs, 3.6 YPC/8 rec, 84 yds, 10.5 YPR) and Truc Phan (37 rush att, 139 yds, 3.8 YPC) have provided a running back-by-committee approach for Swepson and his staff so far this season.

Coppedge and Phan are both speedy, 'scat-back' types coming out of the Elon backfield, and are both big-play threats.

Elon's offensive line is a relatively veteran unit: four of the five starters coming into Saturday's contest is either a junior or senior. The strength of the unit is probably on the left side, where sophomore left tackle Austin Sowell and senior left guard Kyle Herbert anchor the unit.

The right side of the offensive line will be anchored by senior Justin Ward, who is an all-conference caliber performer at right tackle, while junior Dennis Wagner will hold down the right guard position. Senior Clay Johnson rounds out the starting quintet along the Phoenix offensive front at center, and he is the most experienced performer along the Elon offensive front, making his 18th start for the Maroon and Gold on Saturday.

As a unit, the Elon offensive front has surrendered 13 sacks this season, which ranks in the SoCon in sacks allowed, and the unit has helped the Phoenix average 5.5 yards-per-play, while averaging 2.9 yards-per-rush.

The Furman defense comes into Saturday afternoon's contest ranked 80th in the nation in total defense (396.8 YPG), 85th in scoring defense (30.8 PPG), 75th in rushing defense (169.1 YPG) and 75th in passing defense (227.6 YPG).

Leading the Furman defense this season has been a big, physical defensive line, which has been the strength of the Paladin defense this season. The Paladins are led by a pair of veteran defensive ends, in senior Josh Lynn (27 tackles, 3.0 TFL, 1.0 sack, 1 PBU, 1 FF, 2QBHs) and junior Shawn Boone (18 tackles, 4.0 TFL, 2.5 sacks, 1 FR, 1 FF), who is having maybe his best season for the Purple and White this fall.

Boone has been the Paladins main pass-rushing threat on the end this season. While Lynn came into the season as a preseason First-Team All-SoCon selection, he has had a frustrating season as a pass-rusher, drawing plenty of double teams.

Starting at the two defensive tackle positions this season are another couple of veterans: Neal Rogers (24 tackles, 1.0 TFL, 0.5 sack) and Colton Keig (33 tackles, 2.0 TFL). Both Keig and Rogers have been dependable throughout their careers in the middle of the Furman the defense.

The Paladins have gotten solid play out of their linebackers this season, despite the graduation of talented veterans Kadarron Anderson and Chris Wiley. This unit has been one of the strengths of the defense, and gives the Paladins as solid a front seven in the SoCon as anyone this season.

Leading the charge at linebacker this season for the Paladins has been preseason Second-Team All-SoCon strong side linebacker Mitch McGrath (60 tackles, 6.0 TFL, 1.0 sacks, 2 INTs, 1 FF, 1 FR, 3 PBUs), who's continuing to wind down his career. McGrath is the leader of this Furman defense and is a playmaker, and he's the type player that continues to be one who can turn the momentum of a game for the Paladins with one single defensive play. McGrath had just four tackles in the 41-34 loss to Elon last season.

Teaming with McGrath at linebacker in Furman's 4-3 defensive alignment this season have been senior middle linebacker Matt Solomon (67 tackles, 3.5 TFL, 1.0 sack, 3 PBUs) and talented sophomore weakside linebacker Gary Wilkins (66 tackles, 2.0 TFL, 1 blkd kick, 1 PBU).

Both Solomon and Wilkins are exceptionally physical players on the Furman defense, and both are extremely physical players on what has been a physical Paladin defense this season. Solomon is one of the biggest hitters on the Furman defense, and Wilkins is part of what appears to a very bright future at linebacker for the Paladins, and is one of the best athletes on the Furman roster.

The area of concern this season for the Paladin coaching staff this season continues to be the secondary, and it's a unit that will have its hands full Saturday, in much the same way it did earlier this season against Clemson.

Breakdowns in this unit have become a theme this season, as evidenced by Wofford's 52-yard scoring pass from Brian Kass to Jeff Ashley that proved to be the game-winning score for the Terriers, as Wofford held on for a 20-17 win.

Another of those breakdowns occurred late in the third quarter of last week's loss to Georgia Southern, as Eagle QB Jerick McKinnon connected with wideout Zach Walker for a 75-yard score to turn a 10-9 game into a 17-9 lead, and it would be a lead the Eagles would never relinquish en route to a 38-17 GSU win.

The Paladins have been particularly inexperienced at the two cornerback positions. Reggie Thomas (19 tackles, 3.0 TFL, 2.0 sacks, 1 INT, 1 PBU) is a true freshman and the other starter, junior Austin Williams (7 tackles), has split time with Cortez Johnson (22 tackles, 1.0 TFL, 2 PBUs, 1FR) in the starting role this season.

Losing a player to graduation with the prowess of All-American Ryan Steed has been more difficult to overcome for the Paladins than some may have projected.

One of the players that looks to be a "Ryan Steed-in-the-making"  for the Furman defense is Thomas, and the true freshman from Abbeville, S.C., made his presence known with a pick hit on Georgia Southern quarterback Jerick McKinnon on a "CAT" blitz on the first play from scrimmage in last week's 38-17 loss to the Eagles. Thomas is a great athlete and a physical corner, and it will be interesting to see if he draws the tall task of trying to limit Elon's Mellette on Saturday.

The safeties are one of the more experienced aspects of the Furman defense, and the preseason All-SoCon duo of free safety Nathan Wade (61 tackles, 2.0 TFL, 1 INT, 2 PBUs) and strong safety Greg Worthy (55 tackles, 1.0 TFL, 2 PBUs) stepped up and played well in the loss to Georgia Southern last Saturday, with the only real missed assignment being the 75-yard TD from the Eagles.

Wade and Worthy are both big hitters in the Furman defense, and will certainly get some opportunities on Saturday, given the number of times Elon will likely put the ball in the air. In the 41-34 loss to the Phoenix last season, Wade led the Furman defense with 12 tackles, including a pair of tackles-for-loss.

Elon brings a defense into Saturday's contest that ranks 67th nationally in total defense (386.3 YPG), 96th in scoring defense (33.0 PPG), 110th in rushing defense (223.5 YPG) and 10th in passing defense (160.9 YPG).

The Phoenix have at times played exceptionally well on the defensive side of the football, but have lacked the overall consistency that the Elon defense displayed last fall, in a season which saw the Phoenix rank among the upper echelon in total defense.

The defense utilizes a 4-3 alignment, fielding a solid front seven. One of the question marks coming into the season for the Phoenix was the defensive line.

The defensive front comes into Saturday's matchup against the Paladins led by the defensive end tandem of Jay Brown (30 tackles, 3.0 TFL, 1.5 sacks, 1 FR) and Jordan Jones (21 tackles, 2.0 TFL, 2 FRs) have had solid campaigns along the Elon defensive front this season.

Brown offers more of the pass-rushing threat for the Phoenix, while Jones has done a little bit of everything.

Set to start at the two defensive tackle positions will be Tony Thompson (17 tackles, 0.5 TFL, 1 PBU, 1 FR) and Olumfemi Lamikanra (19 tackles, 2.0 TFL, 1.0 sack, 1 FR), who comprise one of the best defensive tackle tandems in the Southern Conference. Thompson could be considered one of the better nose tackles in the Southern Conference.

The linebacking corps has no doubt missed Joshua Jones this season, but the unit has been solid this season, but it lacks the obvious star talent it had last fall.

Anchoring the linebacking corps for the Phoenix this season has been Jonathan Spain (66 tackles, 4.0 TFL, 2.5 sacks) at weakside linebacker, who is having an All-SoCon type campaign for the Phoenix. Spain is physical and runs well from sideline-to-sideline, and is one of the more physical players on the defensive side of the football for Elon. Spain had a pair of tackles and a pass break-up in Elon's win at Furman last season.

The other two starters at linebacker for the Phoenix on Saturday will be Thonda Taylor at middle linebacker, while Odell Benton (29 tackles, 2.0 TFL, 1 INT, 2 PBUs) will be the starter at strong side linebacker. Taylor will be drawing his first start of the season, and he will be doing so as a result of an injury to Blake Thompson (52 tackles, 6.0 TFL, 2.0 sacks, 1 INT) in last week's win over Western Carolina.

The strength of this Elon team this season has been its secondary, and the unit has played as well as any unit in the SoCon this season, and cornerbacks Ed Burns (24 tackles, 1.5 TFL, 3 PBUs, 1 INT) and David Wood (19 tackles, 0.5 TFL, 5 PBUs, 1 INT, 1 FR) have played exceptionally well on the edge for the Phoenix this season, and both are physical performers, who can hold their own against some of the league's more physical wideouts. Burns recorded four tackles in the win at Furman last season, while Wood recorded one stop.

The two starting safeties for the Phoenix on Saturday against the Paladins will be Chandler Wrightenberry (42 tackles, 2.5 TFL, 0.5 sack, 2 PBUs, 1 FF) at strong safety, while Miles Williams (32 tackles, 2 INTs, 1 FR, 2 PBUs) will round out the starters in the secondary at the free safety position.  Wrightenberry is having an All-SoCon type season for the Phoenix in the secondary, and he had seven tackles in the win over the Paladins last season.

Furman counters with an offense that has struggled the past three games, having faced three of the best defenses in the FCS over the past three weeks.

The Paladins bring an offense into Saturday afternoon's contest ranking 50th nationally in total offense (386.4 YPG), 68th in scoring offense (24.1 PPG), 44th in rushing offense (170.9 YPG) and 53rd in passing offense (215.5 YPG).

Furman will operate out of a pro-style offense on Saturday, with some I-Formation and some spread mixed into its offensive scheme as well.

Leading the charge for the Paladin offense this season has been true freshman Reese Hannon (124-of-195 passing, 1,475 yds, 6 TDs, 4 INTs/), who enters Saturday's contest as a part of the Sports Network's Jerry Rice Award watch list, which is an award given to the top freshman player at the FCS level.

Hannon is efficient and is a solid decision-maker for the Paladins under center. He assumed the starting role at quarterback when Dakota Derrick went down in the second week of the season with a shoulder injury against Coastal Carolina, and he has never relinquished the starting role.

In the 38-17 loss to Georgia Southern last Saturday, Hannon connected on 19-of-26 passes for 184 yards. In the three-straight losses for the Paladins, Hannon has not thrown a TD pass.

A player that has certainly relieved him of plenty of the pressures that face a true freshman quarterback is All-America candidate running back Jerodis Williams (146 rush att, 913 yds, 8 TDs, 6.3 YPC/12 rec, 94 yds, 7.8 YPR), who is having yet another strong season toting the pigskin for the Furman offense.

With 87 rushing yards on Saturday against the Phoenix, Williams would become the first Paladin running back to rush for 1,000 or more yards in back-to-back seasons since the legendary Paladin Hall-of-Fame running back Louis Ivory eclipsed the plateau in 2000 and '01.

Williams currently has rushed for 2,840 career yards and needs 160 yards Saturday to eclipse the 3,000-yard plateau for his career, which would make him only the sixth Paladin running back in school history to record that rare feat. Williams needs 199 more yards this season to break into the school's top five list for career rushing yards, currently sitting in sixth place on the all-time scroll.

In the 41-34 loss to Phoenix last season, Williams was held to just 36 yards on 14 carries. Williams has also proven to be dangerous on kick returns this season for the Paladins, as evidenced by his 99-yard return for a score in the win over Western Carolina earlier this season. He comes into Saturday's contest averaging 37.5 yards per kick return to lead the league.

Providing solid depth in the Paladin backfield all season has been sophomore running back Hank McCloud (74 rush att, 358 yds, 5 TDs, 4.8 YPC/9 rec, 78 yds, 8.7 YPR). The smaller, more-compact McCloud has great speed and vision,  and is a very physical runner, who is not at all scared of initiating contact. His speed makes him a danger to opposing defenses when he reaches the second level.

The Paladins have lacked a real big-play threat at receiver this season. However, what they have had is some reliable pass-catchers that have made Hannon's transition into the starting quarterback role easier than expected.

One of those leaders at receiver is, of course, preseason First-Team All-America Colin Anderson (22 rec, 368 yds, 16.7 YPR) at tight end. Anderson isn't having quite the year he had in 2011, due in large part to teams making it a goal to limit his touches, but the senior from Dallas, TX, no doubt has a shot at the next level.

Anderson is ranked in the top three in three different pass-catching categories for tight ends all-time in the 106 years of Furman football. He enters Saturday's contest ranking first among Paladin tight ends in career TD receptions (11), while ranking second all-time in career receiving yards (1,411) and tied for second in career receptions (82). He needs 155 more receiving yards this season to become the school's all-time receiving yards leader among tight ends.

Ironically, the player who has more receiving TDs among tight ends in school history for the Paladins has yet to haul in a scoring pass this season. In the 41-34 loss to Elon last season, Anderson had a strong performance, as he was able to catch six passes for 132 yards and a score.

Other reliable receiving options at wide receiver for the Paladins entering Saturday afternoon's showdown at Rhodes Stadium are Gary Robinson (9 rec, 80 yds, 8.9 YPR), who will start at flanker for the injured Paladins' leading receiver Will King (34 rec, 541 yds, 3 TDs, 15.9 YPR), while junior Ryan Culbreath (25 rec, 308 yds, 2 TDs, 12.3 YPR) will start at split end. Also expect freshman Jordan Snellings (15 rec, 181 yds, 2 TDs, 12.1 YPR) to see plenty of playing time in a reserve role at wideout for the Paladins on Saturday.

Furman's offensive line has looked good at times this season, but at times has had trouble when pass-blocking, which has led to the Paladins surrendering 11 sacks so far this season. The unit has looked good for the most part in run-blocking, and is one of the more physical offensive lines in the league.

The Paladins will be without there lone All-America candidate up front on Saturday, in junior left tackle Dakota Dozier, who's still nursing an injury he suffered two weeks ago in the 31-10 loss to Chattanooga. Charles Emert will move over and start his second game at left tackle this season in relief of Dozier on Saturday, while Grayson Weber will be making his second start at right tackle with Emert moving over to fill in. True freshman walk-on Eric Thoni will start his ninth game this season at center, while Ryan Storms (RG) and Joe Turner (LG) round out the starters along the offensive front for Furman on Saturday.

Turner has been exceptional this season along the offensive front for the Paladins, and is proving why he was such a highly sought-after recruit by offensive line coach Scott Smouse, who has a track record of finding "diamonds in the rough" dating back to his days as a part of Jack Crowe's staff at Jacksonville State. Turner graded out a unit best 86% on 59 plays last week in the 38-17 loss to Georgia Southern.

Final Prediction: Furman 31, Elon 28


    Without Love, Odds Continue to Stack Against LeBron

    Featured logo

    Without Love, Odds Continue to Stack Against LeBron

    Greg Swartz
    via Bleacher Report

    SFs Most Likely to Be Traded This Summer

    Featured logo

    SFs Most Likely to Be Traded This Summer

    Dan Favale
    via Bleacher Report

    The 5 Most NBA-Ready Prospects 😛

    Featured logo

    The 5 Most NBA-Ready Prospects 😛

    Jonathan Wasserman
    via Bleacher Report

    Dubs Look More Like KD’s Thunder 😬

    Featured logo

    Dubs Look More Like KD’s Thunder 😬

    Tom Haberstroh
    via Bleacher Report