Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Paladins seek Colgate replacement

After having its home game cancelled last Saturday, Furman is back
on the road this week at ETSU. Photo courtesy of Furman
In the 21 months that Furman head coach Clay Hendrix has been back at his alma mater, one aspect of the job that has surprised him the most is the difficulty of building a season schedule. Now he's witnessing the difficulty of trying to find one opponent in less than a month.

With the cancellation of last Saturday's scheduled home game against Colgate game due to the weather, Furman officials have been hard at work trying to find an opponent for the Paladins' scheduled open date of Oct. 6.

One program that has come up as a possible replacement is Stetson, which had its game at Presbyterian moved to home last Saturday before ultimately being cancelled and also has an open date on Oct. 6. However, with Pioneer League road trips to San Diego, Calif. (San Diego) and Des Moines, Iowa (Drake) sandwiched around Oct. 6, the Hatters don't appear to be inclined to throw their hat in Furman's ring.

As for any other possible local FCS opponents for Oct. 6, all MEAC teams already have games scheduled for that day. The lone Big South team idle is New Jersey-based Monmouth, while the lone OVC team off is Tennessee-Martin. Both those teams already have full schedules anyway making it unlikely that they'd give up their only open date of the season.

As for potential local Division II opponents, there are no teams off Oct. 6 in the South Atlantic Conference or the Gulf South Conference.

"We've had our share of adversity so far, so we will handle it and move on," Hendrix said.

Quite a few schools in the Carolinas and Virginia avoided this hassle by moving up their games to days before Saturday. Evidently, that wasn't an option for Colgate which didn't want their players to miss classes.

If Furman's doesn't find a home opponent for the open date, the Paladins will have just four regular season home games this season. That will be the fewest amount of home games in a season since the 1969 Paladins had just four games at Sirrine Stadium.

Back to football
The unexpected off week has given Furman a few extra days to prepare for its Southern Conference opener at ETSU this Saturday. It will be the Paladins' sixth consecutive road game dating back to last season. That's the longest stretch of road games since Furman ended the 1981 season with three road trips and opened the 1982 season with three.

After scoring 14 points over the first two weeks of the season, the Paladins (0-2) will try to get on track against an ETSU team that they've scored 108 points combined the last two years against.

"I think the biggest thing we're lacking right now is confidence," Hendrix said. "I think we're fairly talented. ... It's just a matter of figuring it out and getting everybody to play like they're capable of playing."

Senior captains can sometimes be a remedy for confidence issues, and the Paladins may get one back Saturday. While Harris Roberts is still not 100 percent from a hand injury suffered in the preseason, he could return to the quarterback mix this week.

Hendrix said that starting cornerback Quandarius Weems, who suffered a knee sprain at Elon, will likely return to action "in a couple of weeks." Linebacker Braden Gilby, who also was injured at Elon, is questionable for Saturday as is linebacker Davonta Porter (knee). Cornerback Darius Kearse has fully recovered from a hip injury. Porter and Kearse each missed the Elon game.

A young offensive line has gotten a little younger as Hendrix confirmed that junior Jacob Conrad has quit the team. After making his ninth career start in the season opener at Clemson, Conrad didn't make the trip to Elon. Redshirt freshman Bo McKinney, of Travelers Rest, is the new starter at left guard.

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