WEEK 11: NOVEMBER 11th VS. Presbyterian
HEAD COACH: Tommy Spangler (1st Year)
2016 RECORD: 2-9
As the season starts to wind down, Presbyterian will make the trip to Lynchburg for one final conference game against the Flames. Things will be a little different this season though. Harold Nichols, head coach for the Blue Hose since 2009, resigned from his position at the close of the 2016 season. During his tenure there, Nichols had a 21-67 record. Filling in for him this season is Tommy Spangler, an in-house guy who served as the head coach for Presbyterian from 2001-2006. During that time, they were competing at the DII level where Spangler put together a 42-24 head coaching record. Most recently since 2013, Spangler has served as the defensive coordinator for the Blue Hose.
Presbyterian’s struggles at the FCS level are no secret. They just experienced back-to-back 2-win seasons and have had just one winning record since 2009. They sat at the bottom of pretty much every statistic in the Big South last season and it doesn’t look like things will be much different for the Blue Hose this season. Not only were they were picked to finish last in the Big South preseason poll, they didn’t have a single player voted to the All-Conference team.
The offense was….weak…last year, to say the least. They averaged 9 points a game and were last in both rushing and passing yards in the conference. A couple of key players returning for the offense include a pair of QBs. Ben Cheek and Will Brock both saw time on the field, Cheek getting the most starts. As a redshirt freshman, he threw for 837 yards and 2 touchdowns. Brock added another 462 passing yards and 3 touchdowns. Unfortunately, the Blue Hose will be without RB Darrell Bridges who transferred to Chattanooga. Bridges ranked 6th in the Big South in rushing with 721 yards and just 2 touchdowns last season. With Bridges’ departure, they are weak at the running back position. A couple of guys in line to take on a greater role in the offense are RB Zola Davis and RB Glass Wilson. Presbyterian does bring back WR DaShawn Davis and WR Darquez Watson though, their two leading receivers from last season. This is beneficial for young QB Ben Cheek as he moves into his second year as a starter.
As for the defense, they gave up an average of 31 points a game last year. That was under the direction of now head coach Tommy Spangler. In January they hired Mitch Doolittle out of Mercer to fill Spangler’s position and serve as the defensive coordinator. He inherits a couple of veterans to invoke his vision for the defense upon. LB Grant Beidel returns for his senior season after being the 5th leading tackler in the Big South last year. Besides him, LB Nick Moss comes back after having an impressive freshman season. Moss was 2nd on the team with 73 tackles. Their line took quite a hit following the 2016 season though. Khari Rosier, Obinna Ntiasagwe, and Kameron Mack are all gone. Because of this, their depth is relatively young. Presbyterian is poised to have even more trouble against the run than they did last season with this in mind.
Liberty hasn’t lost to Presbyterian since 2008.
This game is late in the season, quite a bit will unfold over 9 games. But as it looks now, Presbyterian’s running game could cost them this game.
The Blue Hose have just 4 road games this season, one of which is at Liberty. They shouldn’t have to deal with the wear and tear of travel, though they will be in New Jersey playing Monmouth the week before they visit Williams Stadium.
Players to Watch
QB Ben Cheek-Cheek returns for his 2nd year as the starting QB.
LB Grant Beidel-He’s a tackling machine! Beidel will be a force to watch in the middle of the field.
Kickoff vs. Presbyterian