Scouting the Furman Paladins: Defense and Special Teams

Base Defense: Furman runs a 4-2-5 defense, much like the one Ellis Johnson runs here at Carolina. The additional speed the extra defensive back gives you is perceived to be an effective counter to spread-option attacks, which are plentiful in the Southern Conference, Furman's FCS home. I'll be interested to see whether Furman maintains this approach against the Gamecocks; after watching us run the ball up the gut on Georgia, I would expect that they might choose to bring the beef in this game, at least what beef they have.

Season Thus Far: Furman had a woeful defense in 2009 that kept it from being a contender in the competitive SoCon. In their first game this season, though, they played quite well against what was perceived to be a solid Colgate team. They gave up only 260 yards and 15 points. Most of the yards came on the ground, though, which may be worrisome coming into a game against a revitalized Carolina running attack.

Defensive Line: Furman's defensive line, which features a lot of new faces, struggled to key a good rushing defense against Colgate, giving up over 200 yards on the day against a rush-happy Colgate offense. The Paladins shouldn't take too much blame for this, though; they gave up only about 4.0 ypc, which isn't great but isn't exactly terrible, either.

One thing to keep in mind here is that Furman's defensive line will be much smaller than our offensive line. This is a group in which we should be able to dominate in the trenches, emphasis on should.

Linebackers: Furman returns a couple of defensive leaders in its linebacking crew, Kadarron Anderson and Chris Wiley. This group played well against Colgate.

Secondary: Here, again, the Paladins return a wide array of talent. Furman completely shut down any semblance of a passing game from Colgate, giving up only 51 yards and an impressive 3.9 ypp. Colgate doesn't appear to have a particularly good passing game, but Furman's numbers here were good by any measure of the imagination.

Special Teams: Furman didn't reveal any glaring problems on special teams in its opening game.

Analysis: There are two things to note here. First of all, as with any game against an FCS team, you have to imagine that Furman will be extremely aggressive. Their best chance of making this a game is to try to make big plays; without creating turnovers, their defense has little chance of slowing our offense down much consistently over the course of the entire game. Second of all, and relatedly, I would expect that Furman will try to stack the box, stop the run, and bring the house at Stephen Garcia. After watching Marcus Lattimore gash Georgia last week, Furman knows that they're toast if they don't play the run hard; they may be toast even if they do, but at least they'll have a chance if they play the run. Their hope, doing this, will be that Garcia, who struggled a bit at times last game, will make some mistakes that will give Furman a chance to make a a game out of this one. It will be key for Garcia to get rid of the ball quickly, and for the coaching staff to call the plays that will allow him to do so. Expect a lot of quick screens and slants early on in this regard. Our receivers and runningbacks are capable of physically outmanning what Furman brings, so these plays should work extremely well if executed correctly. If we can start to move the ball effectively with some combination of these plays and the running game, more options should open up as we loosen up Furman's defense. This is where you might see Steve Spurrier test Garcia's arm again and see if he can get him connecting on some longer balls. I would also expect that, if we run up the score on the Paladins, you'll see Kenny Miles and Jarvis Giles get plenty of chances to gash a depleted Furman defense late in the game.

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