Monday, November 4, 2019

Sisson could make first start vs. VMI

Furman coach Clay Hendrix said if all goes as planned at practice this week,
Hamp Sisson should start vs. VMI Saturday. Photo courtesy of Furman
After coming off the bench to spark Furman to a 35-20 win at Chattanooga Saturday, quarterback Hamp Sisson could make his first start this Saturday. During his weekly press conference Monday, Paladins coach Clay Hendrix said based on Sisson's performance, he should take the first team snaps this week. If practice goes as expected, Sisson will likely get the starting call to face VMI.

Sisson entered when Furman was trailing 9-0 in the second quarter and five of the seven possessions on which he took snaps ended in touchdowns. Sisson completed 9-of-14 passes for 99 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions. He also ran six time for 52 yards and a touchdown.

"Hamp came in and played exceptionally well. ... It was the first meaningful reps he's had and it certainly wasn't an easy situation to come into," Hendrix said Monday. "I think he's probably earned the right to probably start the football game Saturday if he practices like we want him to practice every week."

Perhaps the biggest highlight of Sisson's day - besides the assist on Devin Abrams' 31-yard touchdown when he shoved the fullback out of a pile to help him break away for the score - was the two-minute drive before halftime. It was actually a one-minute drive as it took exactly 60 seconds for the Paladins to go 80 yards on 10 plays.

Sisson was 5-of-8 on the drive for 52 yards. He accounted for the other 28 yards on two carries, including the go-ahead eight-yard touchdown run as Furman went from trailing 9-0 with less than three minutes to play in the half to leading with 26 seconds left.

For the coaching staff, it was more of what they saw from Sisson in August when he battled fellow redshirt freshman Darren Grainger for the starting spot.

"If you asked us all through August, we thought we'd have been playing two guys all along. We felt like we had two guys we could win with," Hendrix said. "You never know how it's going to play out. The way Darren played throughout August and certainly the first of the year - the Georgia State game in particular - he was so solid.
"After that game, I think the expectations for him just went through the roof. ... He's had a tough couple of outings and has probably lost some confidence."

After getting the starting nod this season, Grainger completed 30-of-45 passes for 441 yards with five touchdown and no interceptions over the first two weeks of the season to lock down the starting spot.

After completing 6-of-9 passes for 183 yards and four touchdowns at Samford on Oct. 5, Grainger hasn't looked the same. While he struggled in the passing game of late, he was still protecting the ball well. But on Saturday, Furman's first two possessions ended on a Grainger fumble and an interception. The last two possessions he was in on ended on punts.

"I told Darren at halftime, 'you're one play from being right back in there.' Darren handled it great," Hendrix said. "If you saw him in the locker room after the game, he was one of the more excited kids about the win. I know he's disappointed he didn't play as well as he wants too. I think he's been pressing a little bit too much.
"He's practiced well and I don't expect him to practice any different this week. We will get two guys ready to go like we do every week. ... We're going to need both those guys moving forward to do the things we want to do."

Paladins return to top 10
Furman shot from 13th to back in the top 10 of both FCS polls released Monday. The Paladins are No. 9 in the STATS poll, and ranked 10th in the Coaches. The FCS championship committee will announce it's first top 10 ranking of the season Wednesday on ESPN2 during halftime of the Miami (Ohio)-Ohio game, which is set to begin at 8 p.m.

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