College Sports Journal Southern Conference Previews: Week of 9/14/2019
September 12, 2019
The Southern Conference continued its slow start to 2019 with only one team picking up a win against an FCS opponent. The one bright spot, Furman, gave Georgia State all it could handle, but just couldn’t finish the job in the end. Mercer has started 2-0, but against lesser opponents. The Citadel is 0-2 but lost both by a touchdown to quality CAA opponents. There is plenty of time for the SoCon to right the ship, but it has to start this week.
Conference Game of the Week:
Samford (0-2) at Wofford (0-1) Where: Gibbs Stadium, Spartanburg, SC When: Saturday September 14th, 6:00 pm TV/Streaming: ESPN College Extra, ESPN3 (subscription req’d)
I think most of the FCS world expected Samford to take a step back this season. The opening weekend loss to Youngstown State didn’t surprise anyone. However, the Bulldogs seemed allergic to playing defense in letting OVC bottom feeder Tennessee Tech come back to beat them with 22 fourth quarter points. The offense played much better against Tennessee Tech, so there is something to build on for the Bulldogs.
Key Player: Liam Welch was given the first change to replace Samford legend Devlin Hodges at the quarterback position. It was apparent early in the first game that he was not the answer. The Bulldogs inserted Chris Oladokun and the offense took off. Against Tennessee Tech, Oladokun threw for 428 yards and six touchdowns without an interception. If the Samford defense is as bad as it looked against Tennessee Tech, Oladokun will have to put the team on his shoulders to outscore opponents every week.
As bad as the Samford loss in week one was against Tennessee Tech, Wofford saw that and said “hold my beer.” The Terriers suffered an inexplicable loss against a South Carolina State team that most see as a mid-pack MEAC team. The Southern Conference preseason favorite, Wofford needs to right the ship and right it quick before everyone passes them by.
Key Player: Wofford tried to work more passing into their offense this year. In their opening game, that clearly did not work. QB Joe Newman threw 17 times and only completed 7 of those passes. Along with the poor completion percentage, he also threw three interceptions. That will not get it done in any game. Newman has to figure out the pass portion and not just reading the triple option. If not, it will be time for Josh Conklin to find someone who can efficiently run his offense.
Fearless Prediction: We are going to go with the notion that the Wofford loss was an aberration. The Terriers bounce back this week while the Bulldogs slide continues. Wofford 30, Samford 24
This should be an excellent matchup between two teams vying for playoff berths. The winner will have a leg up there with a nice out of conference win under their belt. Itll be close, but take the home team. Mercer 28, Austin Peay 27
VMI (1-1) at East Tennessee State (1-1) Saturday September 14th, 7:30 pm, William B. Greene Stadium, Johnson City, TN, ESPN+ (subscription req’d)
VMI always has some offensive firepower, but East Tennessee State is clearly the better team in this game. East Tennessee State 41, VMI 20
Jamie is a proud 2002 graduate of James Madison University. He’s witnessed the growth of the program from no one in the stands in 1998, to the hiring of Mickey Matthews, to the 2004 National Championship, to the 2008 team, to the struggles in the early 2010s, and finally the rebuild under Mike Houston. He also allegedly really enjoys Washington, DC-based Stanley Cup winners.
Jamie is a proud 2002 graduate of James Madison University. He's witnessed the growth of the program from no one in the stands in 1998, to the hiring of Mickey Matthews, to the 2004 National Championship, to the 2008 team, to the struggles in the early 2010s, and finally the rebuild under Mike Houston. He also allegedly really enjoys Washington, DC-based Stanley Cup winners. Reach him at: