The Flames will take on Big South Conference foe Gardner-Webb on October 26 this season in Boiling Springs, NC. While the Bulldogs will certainly be familiar to FlamesNation, a change at the head coaching position will ensure a few surprises against a conference rival. Let’s take a look at this season’s addition of Gardner-Webb Football.
2012 Results: 3-8 Overall, 2-4 Big South
2012 had to be a disappointing campaign in Boiling Springs. The Bulldogs dropped their first 5 games of the season before finishing at 3-8 overall. The sub-par performance in Coach Ron Dickerson’s second season at the helm ultimately led to his departure from the program. Liberty was able to pull off a victory against Webb in 2012, a 42-35 shootout, that left many in Flames Nation sighing with relief.
The biggest story of 2013 for the Bulldogs will inevitably be new Head Coach Carroll McCray. McCray comes to Gardner-Webb after one season as Head Coach of Division II North Greenville. McCray is also a Gardner-Webb alumnus, so there will no doubt be a noticeable level of passion and commitment in his coaching. Such coaching moves are usually popular with boosters, but winning is ultimately the test of every coach. Let’s now examine what Coach McCray will have to work with in his first season at the helm.
Gardner-Webb will have a fairly difficult schedule in what has to be viewed as somewhat of a rebuilding season. In addition to their Big South slate, the Bulldogs will face off against University of Richmond, Furman, Marshall, and Wofford.
Returning Key Players
The Bulldogs return several key players on offense for 2013. Big South passing leader in 2012, QB Lucas Beatty, returns with experience taking snaps. Beatty will also have his top 2 receivers from 2012 back in Kenny Cook and Deonte Swinton. While GW lost their top rusher from last season, they will have their second leading rusher from 2012 back, Juanne Blount.
On the defensive side of the ball, DE Shaquille Riddick will lead the way for the Bulldogs on a unit that gave up a lot of yards and a lot of points in 2012.
This will be a season of change for Gardner-Webb. New systems will be in place, and there will no doubt be a new sense of optimism going forward. The Bulldogs should have no problem putting points up on the board, with so many offensive starters returning. However, the defense will have to improve markedly if GW is going to turn things around in Coach McCray’s first season.
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