Owen Mercer is a Furman University sophomore from Memphis, TN majoring in Political Science. He has covered football, men’s golf, men’s and women’s cross-country, and men’s tennis for The Paladin, the Furman student newspaper. Mercer aspires to become a professional sportswriter after graduation. His aspirations are sure to come to fruition now that he can add WarBlogle.com to his resumé.
1. What is the first thing that pops into the heads of Furman fans when Auburn football is mentioned?
Tradition, albeit a lesser one over the last couple of years; Powerhouse; Giant; Powerful; etc.
2. Furman has been pretty successful in recent years in the 1-AA ranks, why do you think that is?
Well if you look at the last 8 years, we have been very successful. We went to the I-AA Championship game in 2001, have made the playoffs 4 times after that, and have only finished outside of the top 3 in the Southern Conference once. That is the last 8 years. But if you look at the last three seasons, we have fallen. We haven’t made the playoffs since 2006 (we won’t this year). We have become third fiddle (behind Appalachian State and Elon) in a conference we used to dominate and our win totals have decreased. So we actually haven’t been as successful as you might think. But, even still, we do play at a high level when it comes to I-AA. Why? Same as big schools in I-A, we recruit well. We also develop our talent very well. We usually have a fairly strong defense and we have traditionally been a well-quarterbacked team (Ingle Martin).
3. What is a Furman?
There is no such thing as a Furman. The founder of the school was named Richard Furman.
4. What are Furman fans’ expectations for this game?
Most fans expect that we will get killed. Our other I-A opponent this season, Missouri, beat us 52-12. We would just like to see a competitive game for a while instead of getting blown out from the start.
5. What are Furman fans’ expectations for the rest of this season?
Well, we are mathematically out of the FCS Playoffs, as well as a Southern Conference championship. So we are just looking for a strong effort these last 3 games instead of rolling over. We expect to lose to Auburn and beat Georgia Southern and Wofford.
6. Who are two generally unknown Furman players that Auburn should look out for?
First, cornerback Ryan Steed. He is a sophomore who is in his first season as a starter, although he played significantly last season. He has emerged as a leader on the defense and always seems to be involved on tackles and breakups. His defense has saved countless touchdowns this season. It will be interesting how he matches up against Auburn’s receivers, though. Look to hear his name often. Second, quarterback Chris Forcier (younger quarterback of Michigan’s Tate Forcier). Our starting quarterback, Jordan Sorrells, is a 5th year senior as will be gone next season. If the game is wide open (and even if it is close), look for Furman coach Bobby Lamb to use Forcier (he did last week). Forcier is a redshirt sophomore transfer from UCLA who runs a 4.25 40. His passing mechanics are weak, but he makes plays with his legs. A couple more: RB Tersoo Uhaa and DE Kyle McKinney.
7. What is your prediction for the game?
48-14 Auburn. First, I’ll explain Auburn’s 48. Our defense, to put it bluntly, is not good. We have a young and inexperienced defense. We are fairly good at stopping the run, but are horrendous against the pass, which Chizik will exploit. We played a spread offense last week against Appalachian State and gave up 52 points. We are not good at defending an offense with alot of weapons, which Auburn has. The reason I didn’t put more than 48 points is that Chris Todd is a fairly immobile quarterback. As bad as we are against the spread, we’re even worse when we face a dual threat quarterback. Look at the last 2 weeks:
The fact that Todd rarely runs helps us. Now for our 14. Our offensive strength lies in our passing game. Sorrells has been very efficient this season and has a bevy of receivers to throw to (Mims, Webb, Cunningham, Hendrix, Truss, Maples). However, the speed and talent of the Auburn defense will probably be able to neutralize those weapons. If Auburn can bring significant pressure on Sorrells, it will be even worse. That means we will have to turn to our running game. Uhaa is an extremely physical runner and might be able to find some holes in the Tiger defense. We’ll see. Our special teams have also been great this season.
8. What do you think Auburn and Furman’s final records will be?
Auburn: 8-4; wins over Furman and Georgia and loss to Bama
9. What can Furman use as a recruiting tool?
Reaping benefits of regional talent and utilizing tranfers (like Forcier and Tyler Maples).