This week UB hosts Big South leading Gardner Webb, the Blog 'Lets Go Bulldogs' run by Bull Dog fanatic Adrian Brashier focuses mostly on GW football. The blog does a great job keeping up with any media coverage of the team so if you want to know who is hurt, who won an award, or general FCS / Big South news its a pretty decent resource.
Bull Run: Gardner-Webb Has two games against FBS schools scheduled this year, two weeks ago against North Carolina State and this coming week at Buffalo. How often does an FCS team take on that level of competition and how did the Bulldogs end up doing it this year.
Lets Go Bulldogs: I believe most FCS (I-AA sounds better) teams like to schedule one FBS game a year. First foremost it's a big pay check, and it's great exposure. In the past it was pretty rare for a FCS program to schedule 2 money (FBS) games a year, but Big South Conference teams seem to be making it a habit. For one thing the Big South has only 7 schools participating in football so that means that Big South athletic directors have 5 of 6 available open dates to fill. It's beginning to appear like Gardner-Webb is either having trouble signing "home and home" agreements with quality FCS programs or Gardner-Webb is really trying to pick up last minute FBS games for the extra money. Which bears a striking similarities to prostitution in my honest opinion.
BR: Matt Goods, Is he as good as advertised? He has won two conference rookie of the week honors this year but outside of the Wolf Pack you have not exactly played a world beater schedule thus far. Mars Hill, West Carolina, and VMI do not scream offensive Juggernaut.
LGB: Goods has been a great surprise this year, and for a freshman to perform as well as he against a team like NC State is quite impressive. The VMI performance looks a little better than it appears. VMI runs a option attack very similar to Georgia Tech, and they are not very easy to defend. The defense as a whole was able to stop them from running up the middle but VMI did have some success running sweeps.
BR: Defensively you delivered your share of punishment against NC State (scoring several sacks), but offensively you managed only 200 yards and one third down conversion do the Bulldogs have what it takes to move the ball, consistency, against a FBS level defense? Who are the real threats on your offense?
LGB: I really was not that upset with G-Webb's performance as I was leaving the NC State game. It was evident that State just had better athletes in most of the positions. For example, NCSU had a couple of monster tight-ends that G-Webb defenders just kind of bounced off of all night.
For most of the first half Gardner-Webb just could not move the ball against the much larger NC State team but there was one fairly successful drive that was sabotaged by a delay of game penalty. In the second half the offense seemed to perform better, so that gives me some hope for Saturday, but in contrast the against VMI, it took a while for the running game to produce against a smaller team. I am not a football expert, and less of a writer, but I just have to question the logic of trying to consistently run the ball without tight ends and fullbacks in the game. That aside, the ironically named Runnin' Bulldogs look a little one dimensional at the moment and that has me worried.
BR: How well do you think the Bulldogs receivers stack up against the Buffalo Secondary? Can using Perry and Melton to stretch out the UB defense be effective against Mike Newton and Kendrick Hawkins?
LGB: Perry is the star on offense, there is no doubt. He's fast, has good hands and is the deep ball threat. I got to hand it to Coach Patton he knows where to find great wide receivers, and it seems we have more receivers to break out. Melton is just a great story. He is converted 3rd string quarterback converted into a receive because he was just to talented to stay on the sideline. His job is to essentially catch the ball and get abused. The other day against VMI he stumbled after caught the ball because he usually gets pounded in the middle, but somehow he kept is feet and made 7 or so yards after the catch. He's just a tough guy and I rarely ever see him drop balls.
BR: What part of the Bulldogs game, Offense, defense, or special teams is the most likely to win this game for you? Which is the most likely to lose it?
LGB: Hate to sound cliche but Offense is going to have to sustain drives in order to win this game. I am not saying G-Webb has to score a ton of points, they just need to take time off the clock and give the defense a break. Gardner-Webb's line-backing core of Brown, Patterson, and Williams maybe the 3 best athletes we have had on defense at one time, but all defenses look bad when they stay on the field too long.
The greatest culprit for of an embarrassing loss would be completely idiotic and stupid penalties and special teams play. I long for one game without a delay of game, and unsportsmanlike penalties due to mouthiness has bitten us more than once this year. The special teams have just been bad this year. Last week alone VMI scored a safety from a botched snap, scored a touchdown on a punt return, successfully executed a fake punt and blocked a punt in the fourth quarter which almost cost G-Webb the game. That has to improve or it will be a nasty trip up north.
BR: Can you tell UB Fans the three highest points of Gardner-Webb Football?
- The 1992 Runnin' Bulldogs made it the NAIA Championship game against Central State Ohio.
- Gabe Wilkins being drafted by the Green Bay Packers in 1993 and then getting a sack in the Superbowl.
- Winning the first ever Big South Football championship in 2002 and then repeating as champions in 2003.