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SouthernPigskin.com SoCon Mid-Season Report

Postby BestOfBreed on Wed Oct 11, 2006 11:41 am

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SoCon Mid-Season Report

By Josh Buchanan
SouthernPigskin.com Contributor

1-AA writer Josh Buchanan reviews the best of the Southern Conference to date.

APPALACHIAN STATE
Do the Mountaineers have the talent, depth and the experience to go all the way again? It certainly appears they do. They have been able to dismantle everyone in their path since their 23-10 season opening loss at NC State. They got off to a 21-3 lead on James Madison and coasted. Then they followed that up with a shutout of D-2 Mars Hill; their first team defense has not been scored on since. All 54 points they have given up in the last four games have come on interception returns for touchdowns or against the second and third team defenses in mop-up duty. ASU leads the Southern Conference in redzone defense, sacks by a team, total defense and offense, pass defense, scoring offense and defense, and are second in pass offense. Freshman quarterback Armanti Edwards and freshman defensive end Gary Tharrington have been pleasant surprises who are making a run for rookie of the year honors. All-Americans Marques Murrell at defensive end and Jeremy Wiggins at strong safety have been very stout while the offensive line, led by guard Kerry Brown, has been the best in the SoCon. A 10-1 or 9-2 finish looks very realistic.

CHATTANOOGA
The Mocs took their worst loss of the year Saturday to Appalachian State but this team has proved than they are better. Running back Eldra Buckley has been a big spark to the offense as UTC has beaten Tennessee Tech and Georgia Southern. Their other losses were to I-A Memphis, a solid Western Kentucky squad and a heartbreaker on the road at The Citadel. Buckley leads the league in rushing and wide receiver Emanuel Hassell leads the league in catches per game. The Mocs are led on defense by linebackers Chris Johnson and Evan Hermanson. They might be a team to watch in the second half of the season with quarterback Matt Lopez providing a spark under center. Watch for the Mocs to still post 5-6 wins if Lopez can stay on track with his current progression. UTC needs to get better play from junior preseason All-SoCon defensive tackle Charles Profit if they intend on improving their run defense.

ELON
Elon has shown much improvement since last year. They have wins over Coastal Carolina, D-2 power Presbyterian and Western Carolina. Their only losses to date are to top 25 Towson and second-ranked Appalachian State. The Phoenix lead the league in pass offense and turnover margin. Quarterback Wes Pope paces the conference in passing and wide receiver Terrell Hudgins has been a pleasant surprise. The defense is led by All-American linebacker Chad Nkang and defensive back Chris Bland, who is second in the league in interceptions. Linebacker Corey Weaver has caught the eye of the media after his big performance at Appalachian State where he led the team in tackles, not Chad Nkang. Elon does have a tough road contest with Georgia Southern this weekend but for the first time in a while they have a shot. As surprising as it is to read, Elon has a shot at finishing with a winning record or at least come very close to it.

FURMAN
The Paladins were shocked as we all were to see them fall to Coastal Carolina last weekend but they are 4-2 and still undefeated in league play. Their other loss was to North Carolina on the road and besides that they have shown great improvement, especially on the offensive line, over the last few weeks. Fullback Jerome Felton leads the league in touchdowns and has a shot at the Payton Award if his team can get back on track. Felton also happens to be a legit first day draft pick if he can keep on his current pace. Quarterback Renaldo Gray and wide receiver Justin Stepp must come through in the second half of the season if the Paladins are to find the balance needed to make it far in the playoffs. Linebacker Andrew Jones leads the team in tackles while corner Austin Holmes leads the team in interceptions. Some have tabbed Furman as an overrated team; did Coastal Carolina prove those detractors right or was this a fluke? Look for this team to bounce back and still make the playoffs with an 8-3 record.

GEORGIA SOUTHERN
Normally you would be hearing all about the six championship banners and how this team seems to be a legit contender for a seventh. This year you won't hear that. The Eagles seem wounded and do not appear to be the same team who once showed no mercy on opponents in the past. After a season opening loss to Central Connecticut State, their only wins have come against Coastal Carolina and Western Carolina. Their latest loss, a thrashing at the hands of North Dakota State, definitely proves they are not a top 15 team at this point. Sophomore running back Chris Covington has been everything they expected when they signed him but they still need more production out of quarterback Travis Clark if they going to make a turnaround. Linebacker John Mohring has proven to still be among the best linebackers in the nation and cornerback Brandon Jackson leads the team in interceptions. Georgia Southern will get to host Appalachian State but still has tough road games with The Citadel and Furman. It looks like expecting 5-6 wins out of the Eagles this season might even be too much unless they can find balance on offense and improve their pass defense.

THE CITADEL
The Bulldogs have four losses already and even though two of them are to I-A teams they still can't afford to lose another game or else they can forget the playoffs. The Citadel is 1-1 in league play but still has Georgia Southern, Furman, Elon and Appalachian State left. Quarterback Duran Lawson has been up and down and must improve if the offense is going to click. Safety Joshua Lawson and linebacker Andrew Rowell have been the leaders on defense. Currently the Bulldogs are last in the Southern Conference in scoring offense and in scoring defense. If they expect to win they must improve in both of those categories. The Citadel is always tough at home but they have been very suspect on the road. They have Georgia Southern at home but the bad news is that they have road tilts with Appalachian State, Furman and Elon. If they win more than four games their season should be considered successful.

WESTERN CAROLINA
The Catamounts started the season 2-0 and found their way into the Sports Network Top 25. Since then they have lost three league games in a row. They are only averaging 20.4 points per game and that just won't get the job done in the Southern Conference. You must also be able to run the football and stop the run and they are next to last in the league in both of those categories. They still have tough contests with Appalachian State and Florida but at least they have Georgia Southern and Furman out of the way. All-SoCon running back Darius Fudge leads the team in rushing and wide receiver Michael Hines is the top pass catcher so far. Offensive tackle Marcus Thomas is perhaps the most underrated offensive lineman in the league. Punter Tim Mayse appears to be headed for All-American consideration and could be the best player on the team. The defense is headlined by linebacker Shelton Gaffney who leads the team in tackles. On paper, it looks like the Catamounts won't make the playoffs again but anything can happen in the wide open Southern Conference.

WOFFORD
The Terriers are 2-3 on the season and 1-1 in league play. They played very well on the road against South Carolina but when you start the season with four of your first five games at home you must do better than 2-3 or else you might be looking at a losing season. Running back Kevious Johnson has been a boost after not playing last season and currently leads the team in rushing. Senior offenisve tackle Will Rutherford and senior offensive guard Derek Tiller anchor the left side of the offensive line. All-SoCon linebacker Justin Franklin leads the team in tackles and free safety Brian Ford has been solid as well. Senior cornerback Brandon Berry has been one of the bright spots in the secondary while earning the team's defensive player of the week award twice. The defense must step up if they are to win more games though. They have given up 41 to Coastal Carolina and 35 to Furman. The Terriers did seem to improve somewhat last weekend against The Citadel but they just need to become more consistent.


MID-SEASON AWARDS
Mid-Season All-SoCon Teams
First Team Offense
WR William Mayfield, Appalachian State, Sr.
WR Terrell Hudgins, Elon, Fr.
TE Daniel Bettis, Appalachian State, Sr.
OT Marcus Thomas, Western Carolina , Sr.
OT John Kivett, Furman, Sr.
OG Kerry Brown, Appalachian State, Jr.
OG Adi Filipovic, Furman, Sr.
C Scott Suttle, Appalachian State, Jr.
QB Wes Pope, Elon, Jr.
RB Eldra Buckley, UTC, Sr.
RB Kevin Richardson, Appalachian State, Jr.
FB Jerome Felton, Furman, Jr.

First Team Defense
DL Marques Murrell, Appalachian State, Sr.
DL Gary Tharrington, Appalachian State, Fr.
DL Roy Ravenell, Furman, Sr.
DL James Gonsoulin, Wofford, Jr.
LB Chad Nkang, Elon, Sr.
LB John Mohring, Georgia Southern, Sr.
LB Andrew Jones, Furman, Jr.
LB Pierre Banks, Appalachian State, Soph.
DB Jeremy Wiggins, Appalachian Sate, Sr.
DB Austin Holmes, Furman, Jr.
DB Mitchell Dukes, Western Carolina , Sr.
DB Jeremy Blocker, Furman, Sr.

First Team Specialists
K Nick Robinson, Wofford, Sr.
P Tim Mayse, Western Carolina , Sr.
RS Dexter Jackson, Appalachian State, Jr.

Second Team Offense
WR Emanuel Hassell, UTC, Sr.
WR Michael Mayers, Elon, Jr.
TE Fenn Allen, Wofford, Soph.
OT Matt Isenhour, Appalachian State, Sr.
OT Brandon Bellamy, UTC, Jr.
OG Marty Bauer, Wofford, Sr.
OG Marty Redden, Elon, Sr.
C Lance Wayne, Georgia Southern, Sr.
QB Armanti Edwards, Appalachian State, Fr.
RB Chris Covington, Georgia Southern, Soph.
RB Cedrick Gipson, Furman, Jr.
FB Michael Hobbs , Wofford, Jr.

Second Team Defense
DL Felipe Foster, Western Carolina , Sr.
DL Justin Brown, Furman, Fr.
DL Omarr Byrom, Appalachian State, Sr.
DL Robbie Goins, Elon, Sr.
LB Monte Smith, Appalachian State, Sr.
LB Chris Johnson, UTC, Jr.
tie Andrew Rowell, The Citadel, Jr.
LB Corey Weaver, Elon, Soph.
LB Justin Franklin, Wofford, Sr.
DB Justin Woazeah, Appalachian State, Jr.
DB Brandon Jackson, Georgia Southern, Soph.
DB Corey Lynch, Appalachian State, Jr.
DB Bruce Lee, Western Carolina , Sr.

Second Team Specialists
K Julian Rauch, Appalachian State, Jr.
P Chris Tommie, Wofford, Soph.
RS William Middleton, Furman, Soph.

PLAYERS OF THE YEAR
OFFENSE: FB Jerome Felton, Furman, Jr.
DEFENSE: DE Marques Murrell, Appalachian State, Sr.
OFFENSIVE LINE: OG Kerry Brown, Appalachian State, Jr.
ROOKIE: WR Terrell Hudgins, Elon
COACH: Pete Lembo, Elon


LAST WEEK'S RESULTS
Appalachian State 56, Elon 21
Elon 37, Western Carolina 19
North Dakota State 34, Georgia Southern 14
Wofford 28, The Citadel 20
Coastal Carolina 29, Furman 27


Team by Team Results (from www.SoConSports.com)
Appalachian State (5-1,2-0)
Sept 2 at NC State............ 10-23 L 57583
Sep 09 JAMES MADISON.......... 21-10 W 23814
Sep 16 MARS HILL.............. 41-0 W 24346
Sep 23 at Gardner-Webb........ 41-6 W 8490
Sep 30 *ELON................... 45-21 W 26620
Oct 07 *at Chattanooga ......... 56-21 W 8887

Chattanooga (2-4,1-2)
Aug 31 at Tennessee Tech...... 31-7 W 7868
Sep 09 at Memphis Tigers...... 14-33 L 34419
Sep 16 at Western Kentucky .... 21-28 L 9322
Sep 23 * GEORGIA SOUTHERN....... 27-26 W 8228
Sep 30 *at The Citadel......... 21-24 L 12757
Oct 07 *APPALACHIAN STATE...... 21-56 L 8887

Elon (3-2,1-1)
Sep 02 at Coastal Carolina .... 23-20 W 8169
Sep 09 TOWSON ................. 17-24 L 7544
Sep 16 PRESBYTERIAN........... 28-0 W 9542
Sep 30 *at Appalachian State... 21-45 L 26620
Oct 07 * WESTERN CAROLINA ....... 37-19 W 4374

Furman (4-2,2-0)
Sep 02 JACKSONVILLE STATE..... 17-13 W 10911
Sept 9 WEST GEORGIA ........... 24-7 W 10052
Sep 16 at North Carolina ...... 42-45 L 47000
Sep 23 * WESTERN CAROLINA ....... 42-7 W 14232
Sep 30 *at Wofford............. 35-21 W 9107
10-07-06 at Coastal Carolina .... 27-29 L 10013

The Citadel (1-4,1-1)
Sep 02 at Texas A&M........... 3-35 L 70104
Sep 09 CHARLESTON SOUTHERN.... 35-38 LO 15121
9/23/06 at Pittsburgh .......... 6-51 L 30069
Sep 30 * CHATTANOOGA ............ 24-21 W 12757
Oct 07 *at Wofford............. 20-28 L 9437

Western Carolina (2-3,0-3)
Aug 31 CHOWAN................. 42-0 W 3014
Sep 16 EASTERN KENTUCKY ....... 20-17 W 8247
Sep 23 *at Furman.............. 7-42 L 14232
Sep 30 *GEORGIA SOUTHERN....... 14-24 L 10483
Oct 07 *at Elon................ 19-37 L 4374

Wofford (2-3,1-1)
Sep 02 SOUTH CAROLINA STATE... 28-21 W 11738
Sep 09 COASTAL CAROLINA ....... 38-41 L 6493
Sep 16 at South Carolina ...... 20-27 L 74286
Sep 30 *FURMAN................. 21-35 L 9107
Oct 07 *THE CITADEL............ 28-20 W 9437

Georgia Southern (2-3,1-1)
Sep 09 C. CONNECTICUT STATE ... 13-17 L 20178
Sep 16 COASTAL CAROLINA ....... 38-21 W 17303
Sep 23 *at Chattanooga ......... 26-27 L 8228
Sep 30 *at Western Carolina .... 24-14 W 10483
Oct 07 NORTH DAKOTA STATE..... 14-34 L 13892
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