Tuesday, September 12, 2017

"Changing the mindset" a key for Paladins

Thomas Gordon heads to the end zone on a 77-yard touchdown reception
 against Elon Saturday at Paladin Stadium. Photo courtesy of Furman.
While both units are dealing with consistency issues, Furman’s offense and defense have shown promising signs considering the newness of both systems. Two games into new coach Clay Hendrix’s tenure, the Paladins have shown focus in terms of a lack of concentration penalties, getting plays in on time and not wasting timeouts.
The biggest reason for Furman being 0-2 and not 2-0 appears to be not being able to finish games, which is something that may not be considered enough when talking about the chore list for rebuilding a program. I don’t believe it’s a killer instinct issue, it’s a not knowing how to win close games issue.
Saturday’s 34-31 loss to Elon marked the second time this season that Furman lost a close game in which it led in the fourth quarter. This is not a new trend.
During last year’s 3-8 season, the total margin of Furman’s eight losses was 84 points. The total margin of Furman’s three wins was 87 points. The Paladins lost four games by seven points or fewer last season. They held a fourth quarter lead in three of those.
Perhaps Hendrix and his staff's biggest challenge is turning around a culture of acceptance that the football program has fallen into. Hendrix said it may be an issue of getting used to losing games.
“I had a lot of people tell me how well we played last week (at Wofford),” Hendrix said. “We played hard and we did some good things, but we didn't play real well. If we played real well, we would've won the football game.
"It's all about changing the mindset, and it's not going to change overnight."
While Hendrix has been pleased the fight his team has shown in coming back late at Wofford and rallying from a 21-0 first quarter deficit against Elon, he knows that's not enough to consistently win.
"They've got to understand that fighting and hoping's not enough. If you combine that we execution, you'll have a chance to be pretty good," Hendrix said. "Right now, we're just lacking the execution part.
"I think our kids have bought in to what we're doing. ... I'm disappointed, but not discouraged."
• Making his first collegiate start in place of Dillon Woodruff, sophomore middle linebacker Alex Burch was a bright spot defensively Saturday. Burch had a team-high 12 tackles, including a sack.
A glaring negative on the defensive stat chart is that while there was one interception, there were zero pass break-ups against the 36 passes thrown by true freshmen for Elon.
• When Ridge Gibson scored on a three-yard touchdown run in the third quarter Saturday, he became the fifth Paladin to run for a touchdown this season. That's the first time Furman has had five different players run for a touchdown over the first two games since 2004, when the Paladins opened with a 52-7 win over Presbyterian and a 45-10 win over Samford. A total of 12 different players accounted for Furman's 33 rushing touchdowns that season.  
• With its win Saturday, Elon joined Clemson and East Carolina as the only teams to ever win four consecutive games against Furman in Greenville. That makes the Phoenix the only visitor to win four straight trips to Paladin Stadium.
East Carolina won four straight at Furman from 1968-74, while Clemson won in its last nine trips to Greenville from 1939-59.

1 comment:

  1. And Furman is now 31-6 in home openers...Elon and Coastal Carolina account for four of those losses!..Elon defeated Furman 24-22 back in 1999...Des Kitchings returned a kick for a score on that game.