HERO Sports welcomes you to "Three-a-Days", where we will preview every single one of the 126 FCS programs, with three teams being released each day from June 17 to July 28. Then, we'll preview all 13 conferences from August 1-4. Today, we present … Furman.
We'll leave no stone left unturned when it comes to giving the FCS diehards all they could ask for this offseason. Learn about every program in the country, with HERO Sports.
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FURMAN (6-4 IN 2018)
The SoCon (Furman was Tied for 1st in 2018)
COACH: Clay Hendrix – At School: 3rd year (14-9 record), Overall: Same
LAST FCS POSTSEASON: 2017 (second round loss to Wofford)
2018 OFFENSE: 27.2 ppg. (64th in FCS)
2018 DEFENSE: 28.2 ppg. (61st in FCS)
KEY GAME: Sept. 7 – at Georgia State: Yes, we could go with a myriad of SoCon games here, and honestly? Most of Furman's SoCon games would fit this category. But we'll go with its FBS matchup with Georgia State. Why? Because this Furman team is good enough to win its first FBS game since beating UCF back in 2015. The Paladins were giant-killers back in the early days of I-AA (just ask South Carolina, Ga. Tech and N.C. State). In fact, head coach Clay Hendrix played in some of those games for Furman. We think this is an opportunity game for the Paladins.
SUM IT UP: The Paladins are looking good, folks. Really good. That's why they're No. 15 in the HERO Sports FCS Preseason Poll. With eight starters back on offense — including all five linemen, the top two rushers and the top receiver, the only question is, who is the quarterback? And obviously, that's a massive question. Sophomore Darren Grainger started a few games last year, and Hamp Sisson also saw playing time. They'll join with Jack Hardin to give the Paladins options this fall. And that's exactly what they'll be doing — the option. They'll be running an option-based attack out of the flexbone look. And trust us, folks … it works really well when the personnel fits.
Hendrix's background as a player and as a coach at the Air Force Academy is to fine-tune the O-line, and Furman has one damned good group to tune it with. Tackles Bo Layton and Andy Godwin, guards Jordan Harris and Reed Kroeber and center Cole Neely are the epitome of Paladin football, and TE Jake Walker also returns. Oh, and only Goodwin graduates after this season — so they'll be back. Whoever ends up under center will have the luxury of not having to do everything, because he'll have a fantastic supporting cast on offense.
And as everyone knows when it comes to any kind of time-chewing option style attack, when it is working — it's the defensive coordinator's favorite gift of the year. Furman had the ball on average five more minutes each game last year than its opponents (14th in the FCS in time of possession). That keeps your defense fresh and squeezes the opponents' offense into fewer possessions — putting pressure on a team to make bigger plays instead of being methodical. That spells success for a team like Furman, and you can count on the time of possession national ranking being even better for this program in 2019.
When you couple all of the above knowledge with the fact that the nation's No. 1 sack man Adrian Hope is back — and will also be back in 2020 and 2021 — you begin to realize that this program is heading places. Also, the top four tacklers on the team return — and the HERO Sports Sophomore All-American kicker/punter is back too (see below)
OUR TAKE: This looks like an eight to nine-win program with a playoff berth, and if one of the quarterbacks explodes? It could be even better than that. Staring the Paladins right in the face down the road is Wofford — who is similarly loaded. That Greenville-Spartanburg showdown will be a good one and could easily have qualified as the "game to watch" up above. The SoCon in general is loaded once again, and don't be surprised if the winner of the league has two losses. We feel like we say that every year. The SoCon schedule is full of landmines and not enough clear ground. There isn't a North Dakota State or James Madison monster in this league, but there are no easy games either — even VMI looks like it has its best team in a decade. So there you have it … clear as mud, right?
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COUNTDOWN: The Best Player in FCS Who Wears Each Number, 1-99
TOP RETURNEE: Soph./LB Adrian Hope (HERO Sports Preseason All-American – 15 sacks led nation)
THE FOUNDATION: Jr./OL Bo Layton (2nd Team All SoCon – returning starter); Jr./RB Devin Wynn (2nd Team All SoCon – leading rusher last year, 722 yds, 6 TDs); Soph./RB Corey Watkins (Freshman All SoCon – 420 yds rushing, 2 TDs); Jr./PK-P Grayson Atkins (HERO Sports Sophomore All American — 11 field goals, 42.8 punt avg); Sr./OL Andy Godwin (returning starter); Jr./LB Elijah McCoy (91 tackles led team, 6 TFLs).
TOP NEWCOMER: Fr./OL Evan Jumper (HERO Sports No. 51 signee in 2019 class – reported Rutgers offer, 12 FBS offers total)
THE QUOTE: "I thought all three of those guys (quarterbacks Darren Grainger, Hamp Sisson and Jack Hardin) did some good things today. That's how it's been all spring. When you have some young guys, you're going to go thru some growing pains. We've had that, but the thing about them is they come and they work. The key for them has to be continuing that throughout the summer. They are completely different guys since the start of practice in August." — Head Coach Clay Hendrix said about the quarterback situation this spring
WERE WE RIGHT?: Last Year's Furman Preview
FCS 2020 NFL PROSPECTS: The List
BEST FCS TRADITIONS: The List
PREVIEWS: The Rest Of The SoCon
Chattanooga | ETSU | Furman
Mercer | Samford | The Citadel
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