Tuesday, August 2, 2011

South Atlantic Conference 2011 Preview

Brevard Tornados
2010 Record: 3-7
Still a fairly new program, the Tornados are still trying to feel their way through D2 football, and they'll be doing it this year with a new starting QB. Kelvin Jeter gives them a legitimate threat at RB, as he ranked 25th in the country with 1145 yards and 7 scores last fall as a freshman who had converted from WR. Another sophomore, Thadus Benton, also returns after rushing for 459 yards and 4 scores, giving the Tornados a solid 1-2 punch in their option based offense. TE Eric Watts returns as the leading receiver from a season ago. Defensively, the Tornados return their top 4 tacklers from 2010, led by LB Trey Jenkins, who collected 92 tackles as a freshman last fall. LB Rufus Jenkins collected 7 TFLs last season, and will be depended on to develop further into a solidified pass rush threat as a sophomore this fall. Salonik Amos runs the secondary after leading the SAC in passes defended with 12 last fall, and Michael Gist returns after having knocked away 6 passes. With some solid young players returning, Brevard may start to show signs of life in 2011.
Season Opener: 9/3 @ Gardner-Webb

Carson-Newman Eagles
2010 Record: 7-4
The Eagles finished 2nd last fall, and will look to press on after falling short with 2 conference losses last fall. Starting over at QB may not be a good place to start, but the Eagles were not a passing juggernaut to begin with, so it could be a good thing. Nate Inman and Brandon Baker both return at RB. Inman rushed for 1057 yards and 10 scores, while Baker rushed for 707 yards and 9 scores of his own. They will be the strength of the offense this fall. On defense, the Eagles lose their top two tacklers, and are seeking new leadership in fall camp. LB Byron Bell and DE Zeke Andrews should be stepping up to take some of the pressure up front. Andrews recorded 14 TFLs last fall. Oliver Davis finished with 10 defended passes, while Tarvin Jones also returns after defending 6. Davis and Jones combined for 8 picks last season, giving the Eagles a strong corps in the back four.
Season Opener: 9/1 @ Glenville State

Catawba Indians
2010 Record: 6-4
The Indians stumbled to end the season last fall and fell out of contention late in conference play. They start over at QB after losing Patrick Dennis and his 18 TDs, so camp will be as important as ever to find the right signal guy, or else the Indians could fade out early in the season. Josh Wright returns at RB after rushing for 687 yards and 7 scores, but he is not the offensive focus. Gerron Bryant returns at WR after posting 42-686-5, but losing Brandon Bunn and his 9 scores could be painful. The Indians return their top 3 tacklers from last fall, led by LB Cory Joh and his 73 tackles. Damein Lee finished with 6 sacks last fall, and recorded 12 TFLs, so he will anchor the line. Jumal Rolle and Lakeem Perry combined for 16 defended passes (they had 8 each), and so the secondary looks strong. Rolle tied for the conference lead with 5 picks. If the QB situation plays out nicely, Catawba could challenge.
Season Opener: 9/3 @ St. Augustine's

Lenoir-Rhyne Bears
2010 Record: 7-4
The Bears were another challenger who just fell a bit short last fall, but they do return their QB, but that QB was not stellar. Given that fact, the Bears are an option based team, so there is no need to panic. Major Herron returns after pulling the trigger on the option last fall. He absolutely must become more efficient when he does chuck the football, as he tossed 7 picks to just 2 TD passes last season. Herron did rush for 16 scores last fall, and led the Bears with 883 yards rushing. Le'Quan McCorkle returns at RB after rushing for 565 yards and 3 scores. TE Nick Stutts returns as the integral part of the passing game out of the option, and he posted 35-544-2 last fall. LB Demetrius Green returns, and will take over as the leader of the defense. The BEars return their top 3 sack artists, led by Brandon Martin on the line. Martin recorded 7 sacks to finish 2nd in the SAC a year ago. Martin also finished with 8 TFLs. Jamont Jones will anchor the secondary after recording 7 passes defended, but the Bears lose their pick leaders from a season ago. There are some holes, and some worries, but the Bears could press forward easily enough.
Season Opener: 9/3 @ Concord (WV)

Mars Hill Lions
2010 Record: 5-6
John Richt returns after an up and down 2010 season to lead the Lions at QB. Richt passed for 2151 yards and 20 scores, but must cut down on his 14 picks from last fall. Jonas Randolph returns at RB after leading the SAC in rushing last season with 1349 yards and 10 scores, which was good enough for 10th in the country. Alex Rose will be asked to step up as the new number 1 WR after the Lions lose their top two receivers from last season, including the electrifying PJ Gore. Rudy Cabral returns to run the defense after leading the SAC with 100 tackles last fall, but the Lions lose their next 4 top tacklers to graduation, and that is a very bad thing. The Lions also lose all of their top pressure producers up front, placing Cabral on a very lonely island as the Lions try to rebuild this defense in short order. The Lions were weak against the pass, but several youngsters got in time last fall, so their could be solid depth if the group improves as a whole.
Season Opener: 9/3 Charleston (WV)

Newberry Wolves
2010 Record: 4-6
The Wolves struggled badly last season, and had trouble settling on a QB. Bryan Ehrlich will be the starter from day one, after passing for 1964 yards and 23 TDs in just 7 games. Lydon Ingram will return at RB, but only rushed for 601 yards and 4 scores, so he is not a solid source of offense over the long term, and is primarily a complimentary piece. Brandon Bostick returns at WR after posting 48-839-8 last fall, but the loss of David Pressley is crushing. Arterio Arnold should be one of the best D Linemen in the conference, and returns as the 2nd leading tackler on the team last season with 72. Arnold led the conference with 13.5 TFLs in 2010. Finding depth in the secondary will be paramount, as the Wolves lose significant depth.
Season Opener: 9/3 North Greenville

Tusculum Pioneers
2010 Record: 6-5
The Pioneers fell victim to a 4 game skid in the middle of the season despite having the amazing Bo Cordell at QB. Cordell passed for 4657 yards and 38 TDs last fall, while only tossing 12 picks in 605 pass attempts. Cordell is on the watch list for the Harlen Hill trophy, and is also on the watch list for our All-Bilo Player of the Year award. The Pioneers don't normally run the ball, but when they do, they prefer the services of Brian Marshall, and he returns to carry the minimal load at RB. # of the top 4 receivers return in action in 2011 in Deonte Gist (96-1183-8), Rashaad Carter (81-1004-9), and Michael Rodriquez (70-727-9). There will be fireworks aplenty. The offense will need to be solid, as the defense has some depth issues, and needs to find play makers. Terrence Smith will be the force up front, as he finished with 12 TFLs last fall, but tacklers are sparse overall. Kaytron Becton has the makings of a future star in the secondary, and is joined as returning by Justin Arrington and Luke Harris.
Season Opener: 9/3 West Georgia

Wingate Bulldogs
2010 Record: 9-3
Wingate won the SAC after a tough 2-2 start threatened to bog them down. The Bulldogs made it into the second round before falling to Albany State. Cody Haffly could challenge Bo Cordell for the conference passing title, as he passed for 3952 yards and 42 TDs last fall. Haffly is also on our D2 Player of the Year watch list. The Bulldogs do love to mix in the run, but they lose RB Nelson Woods and his 1200 yards along with 10 scores. He will be a tough replacement. The Bulldogs also lose their top two receivers from last fall, giving Tusculum the edge. Chris Bowden (51-935-14) will be asked to step up from third receiver to the top spot. Robert Fletcher returns as the top returning tackler from last fall, as the DB recorded 87 on the season, but the Dogs lose their top two tacklers. Jack Taylor will bring the heat up front after recording 7 sacks last fall to go with his 16 TFLs. The Bulldogs also lose their best two pass defenders.
Season Opener: 9/3 Valdosta State

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