Theater of Operations, Florida Vs. Furman: Previewing The Furman Paladins

It was incredibly difficult to find video on the Furman Paladins this week. I must have spent an hour looking at random videos scattered over the internet, Furman's official athletic website and YouTube. The video that I was able to find wasn't the best quality when it comes to play-by-play breakdown (mostly due to the angle) anyway. A few other things contributed to it not working out, so there won't be any pictures in this edition of Theater of Operations. Yeah, I know, I'm sad too.

The Florida Gators will welcome the Furman Paladins to The Swamp this Saturday afternoon in a game that means quite a bit. Win, and the Gators become bowl eligible. Lose, and the Gators' chances of making a bowl game are slim, unless you think Florida's got a great chance of beating Florida State. It's a good thing that Furman is the perfect opponent for a game like this.

The goals for this game should be pretty simple:

  • Win
  • Get starters out early
  • Don't get hurt

That's all there is. It is too late in the year to worry about adding new wrinkles to the offense, too late to add new schemes to the defense, and so on. It is mid-November, for crying out loud, and the Gators still aren't bowl eligible. Let's get there, shall we?

Since there aren't going to be any pictures due to the reasons stated above, we'll take a look at things from a statistical outlook instead.

Furman in the polls:

The Paladins (6-4) are currently ranked No. 24 in The Sports Network/Fathead.com FCS Top-25 football poll. They were ranked No. 17 last week, but lost to Elon, 41-34. It should be noted that because of that, Furman is far from being a horrible FCS team. They play in the Southern Conference along with FCS powerhouses Appalachian State, Georgia Southern, and Wofford, and the conference sees the occasional rises of Tennessee-Chattanooga (personal note: Yay!) and Elon. They don't play with a bunch of scrubs, and we've all seen what the top-tier teams of the SoCon can do.

Furman as a team:

The Paladins have outscored their opponents by a total of 50 points, 283 to 233, on the year. They've outscored their opponent 81-39 in the first quarter and 75-66 in the second quarter. Their issues (much like the Gators') come in the second half of games. While they outscore their opponents 57-41 in the third quarter, their numbers obviously aren't as good as they were in the first half. The fourth quarter is where they struggle: They have gotten outscored 87-70 in the final frame on the year. Yeah, this could make for an interesting second half. I wonder who is going to win it?

Furman on offense:

The Paladins haven't played anyone other than FCS or lower division teams so far. Remember to take that into consideration. Their offense averages a decent 28.3 points per game, which should be enough to help a team with a decent defense win more than it loses. They gain an average of 160.2 rushing yards per game and 223.5 passing yards per game. While those numbers on offense appear somewhat balanced, they really are not. Those numbers are the result of 224 passing attempts and 394 rushing attempts.

The unquestioned leader of the Paladin rushing attack is running back Jerodis Williams, who is 5'10" and comes in at just under 200 pounds. He has gained 966 yards and scored seven touchdowns on the year, with an average of 5.1 yards per rush. The second leading rusher on the team is starting quarterback Chris Forcier (yes, he is a member of that Forcier family), with 362 yards and two touchdowns.

When it comes to passing, Forcier is having a pretty good year. The senior has thrown for 22 touchdowns against only six interceptions. He's accomplishing that, by completing over 65% of his passes and throwing for almost 210 yards per game, which isn't bad at all.

On the receiving end of things, Furman has two main options: tight end Colin Anderson and wide receiver Tyler Maples. Anderson has caught 38 passes for 668 yards and seven touchdowns; Maples isn't too far behind, and comes into this week with 33 catches, 532 yards and three touchdowns.

Furman on defense:

The Paladins as a team, give up 23.3 points per game. That's a little on the high side, and no doubt one of the reasons why they've lost four games on the year. Their leading defensive player is linebacker Kadarron Anderson. On the year, Anderson has recorded 111 tackles, two sacks, six passes defended and forced two fumbles. So what is that, an interception away from the cycle?

The defense as a unit has recorded 21 sacks, 13 interceptions and nine fumble recoveries. Those type of numbers belong to a very opportunistic defense, especially when compared to the Florida Gators defense. Defensive end Josh Lynn leads the team with five sacks, and linebacker Mitch McGrath and corner Ryan Steed lead the way with four interceptions each.

Furman on special teams:

The Paladin special teams are decent at best. They've blocked two kicks but had five blocked themselves. One of the blocked kicks they recorded was on a punt. They haven't returned a punt for a touchdown, but have had one returned on them for a touchdown. And they've returned one kickoff for a touchdown, while allowing one themselves.

Their longest punt this year went for 55 yards, and their longest field goal was from 46 yards out. They use two field goal kickers and their combined kicking percentage is 45.2%. Trust me though, that stat isn't skewed in any way, as both kickers are pretty bad.

Outlook for Furman:

I'll be honest here, it doesn't look good for the Paladins. I know the Gators have struggled quite a bit, but in the two previous games in which the Gators outmatched the opponent in every facet like this, they beat Florida Atlantic 41-3 and shutout UAB 39-0.

I expect something similar to that. Though the Paladins may not be quite as bad as both FAU and UAB, both of those teams could lose to Furman and I wouldn't be surprised at all. That bodes well for Florida.

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