Early Preview - Clemson vs. Presbyterian

Early Preview - Clemson vs. Presbyterian

Football

Early Preview - Clemson vs. Presbyterian

By

By Gray Gardner.

Established: 1880

Location: Clinton, SC

Enrollment: 1300

Nickname: Blue Hose

Colors: Garnet and Blue

Conference: Big South

Stadium: Bailey Memorial

Capacity: 6,500

Head Coach: Harold Nichols (0-11 after 1 season)

Offensive Coordinator: Doug Malone

Defensive Coordinator: Tom Evangelista

2009 Record: 0-11 (0-6 in conference)

Offensive Outlook

The Presbyterian offense returns 9 starters in 2010, including offensive leaders Brandon Miley (quarterback), Lance Byrd (running back) and Trandon Dendy (running back). In 2009, Miley threw for 1,736 yards with 11 touchdowns. On the ground, Byrd tallied 718 yards with 4 touchdowns while Dendy ran for 596 yards and 5 scores.

Offensive Coordinator Doug Malone’s pro-style offense relies on the passing game more so than on the run. After a dismal performance in 2009, it is no question that Malone will be looking for more production out of his unit this fall. The Blue Hose offense ranked near the bottom of the barrel in nearly every offensive category in 2009. With all but 2 starters returning in 2010, the Blue Hose are expected be much improved on the offensive side of the ball.

The Blue Hose will have to find a way to replace their second leading receiver from a year ago, but it should not be a problem considering their depth at the position. I look for Byrd, a very versatile running back, to help in this area by catching a lot of passes out of the backfield in 2010 as he did last season.

• Key Players on Offense: QB Brandon Miley, RB Lance Byrd, RB Trandon Dendy, WR Patrick McKoy

Defensive Outlook

The Blue Hose have 9 starters returning in 2010 including leaders Derek Brown (middle linebacker), Derren Evans (defensive end) and Brian Leonardi (defensive end). In 2009, Brown was second on the defense in tackles with 60 and forced a fumble. Evans recorded 4 sacks in 2009 with 3 quarterback hurries. Leonardi was fourth in tackles with 51 and tallied 4 quarterback hurries.

The Blue Hose defense aligns in a 4-2-5 formation under defensive coordinator Tom Evangelista’s command. Like Doug Malone and the offense, Evangelista must be hoping for better results out of his defensive unit than they produced in 2009 when they, too, ranked near the bottom of the country in almost every category.

Three of the team’s top 6 defensive leaders are gone from last season, including the team’s leading tackler. If Evangelista’s defense wants to have success in 2010, they will have to learn to stop the run. In 2009, teams averaged 240 yards a game on the ground against the Blue Hose. Games are won up front, and if the Presbyterian front six fail to stop the run game again this fall it’s going to be another long season.

• Key Players on Defense: LB Derek Brown, DE Derren Evans, DE Brandon Leonardi, CB Damon Lawrence

Special Teams Outlook

Presbyterian returns starting kicker Aaron Mayes and starting punter Patrick Morgano for the 2010 season. Mayes made 6 field goals out of 12 attempts in 2009. Morgano averaged 37 yards a punt.

The Blue Hose cast a wide range of players in the return game. Wide receivers Tyler Robbins and Michael Ruff could be the primary returners in 2010 after receiving work there a year ago.

The Blue Hose special teams unit is by no means filled with playmakers. They did not return any kicks or punts for touchdowns in 2009 and were only 50% on attempted field goals. This unit will not be called on to win a game in 2010.

Overall

Harold Nichols will be looking for his first win as a Blue Hose head coach in 2010, his second season with the school. The Presbyterian football program has not had much success in years previous to Nichols being hired, and with the recent move into Division 1, you have to think the administration is counting on some winning seasons. That starts this season for Nichols. With 20 returning the starters (including kicker and punter), there is no excuse for the Blue Hose to go winless.

Prediction

Presbyterian doesn’t match up well against Clemson in any way, shape or form. Lots of players on the 3-deep will get to play in this one.

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