Friday, September 22, 2017

Paladins go to Colgate seeking first win

Furman quarterback P.J. Blazejowski. Photo courtesy of Furman.
Furman travels to Colgate looking for its first win of the season Saturday at 1 p.m. The two schools have many similarities. Each are small, private schools with outstanding academic reputations.
While Colgate (1-2) has a win this season - at then-No. 23 ranked Cal Poly - there's also a similarity on the football field that could provide the storyline Saturday. If the game is tight heading into the fourth quarter, who's going to step up and make plays to finish off a win?
Even though it hasn't allowed a point in the third quarter this season, Colgate's been outscored 30-3 in the fourth quarter. Meanwhile, Furman has been outscored 24-9 in the final quarter. That's despite outscoring N.C. State 3-0 last week in the fourth when the Wolfpack had things well in hand.
Perhaps more disconcerting for Furman is its opening quarters. Opponents have a combined 42-6 advantage in the first quarter this season. Unfortunately for the Paladins, this is not a new development.
Since the start of the 2015 season (25 games), Furman's been outscored 203-88 in the first quarter.
"There's been a lot of big plays left out there that haven't been made," Furman coach Clay Hendrix said. "We haven't played particularly well, but I don't think it's been a lack of effort.
"We all want the same things, we just have to realize there's some things we have to do to get there."
For Furman to be successful Saturday it will have to deal with the leading tackler in the country. Colgate linebacker T.J. Holl has racked up 43 tackles this season to lead the FCS at 14.3 tackles per game.
After getting picked apart by Elon's freshman quarterback two weeks ago, Furman's defense gets a shot at another freshman Saturday as Grant Breneman has secured Colgate's starting quarterback job. In his first start last week, Breneman was 6-of-23 passing for 56 yards in Colgate's 33-10 loss at Buffalo. However, Breneman rushed for a team-high 68 yards on 14 attempts and he's averaging a team-high 67.5 yards rushing per game in his two games.
Colgate leading rusher James Holland (181 yards), who rushed for 732 yards and 16 touchdowns as sophomore in 2015, is not expected to play against Furman because of an undisclosed injury. The Raiders will also likely be without injured defensive end Pat Afriyie due to injury. Afriyie, the 2016 Patriot League Defensive Player of the Year, has 24 sacks in his career.
Linebacker losses
Entering the 2017 season, linebacker was a position of concern for Furman with the graduation of Carl Rider and Byron Johnson. Three games into the season, it's grown more worrisome because of injuries.
Starting middle linebacker and team captain Dillon Woodruff suffered a career-ending broken leg in the opener. His replacement, sophomore Alex Burch, didn't play against N.C. State due to an undisclosed injury and is questionable Saturday. Senior weakside linebacker Adekunle
Olusanya suffered a dislocated elbow against N.C. State and will miss at least three weeks.
The injuries have opened the door for Elijah McKoy and Reynard Ellis to see quite a bit of playing time. McKoy had 20 plays against Elon and made eight tackles. Ellis saw most of his action last week and had six tackles at N.C. State. The are two of 24 freshmen that have seen game action for Furman this season.
Tuning in
The game is scheduled for live streaming over the Patriot League Network ( Saturday's radio broadcast will be carried over the Furman IMG Sports Network, headed up by flagship station Fox Sports 1440.  It will also be streamed through and via the Tune-In and iHeart applications.

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