Furman University's Student Newspaper

The Paladin

Furman University's Student Newspaper

The Paladin

Furman University's Student Newspaper

The Paladin

#7 Paladins Set to Rematch SoCon Foe Chattanooga Mocs

Following #18 Chattanooga’s victory against Austin-Peay and #7 Furman’s crushing defeat against Wofford, the Mocs and the Paladins will rematch in the FCS Playoffs this Saturday at 1 p.m.
Courtesy of Furman Athletics

After a crushing 19-13 loss against the Wofford Terriers last Saturday, the Paladins have a fire under them as they face SoCon rival Chattanooga for the second time this season. As the Paladins look to right the wrongs from the Wofford loss, what are the keys to defeating the Mocs again this season?

Rematches are infrequent in college football. College football teams rarely want to play a team they have already beaten earlier in the season. It is challenging to beat a team twice because a rematch gives the loser a tactical advantage, allowing them to tweak their mistakes and reuse or discard trategies they used against the winner previously. 

In the 2021-2022 college football season, the Alabama Crimson Tide defeated the Georgia Bulldogs 41-24 in the SEC Championship game. However, the previously undefeated Bulldogs were put into the FBS College Football Playoff the same season, where they again met the Crimson Tide in the national championship. The Bulldogs won the title 33-18. 

This is just one example of a rematch gone wrong: the Bulldogs played ultra-conservatively on offense and defense in the first game, but the Crimson Tide did not expect Georgia to come back and revise their methods.. The Paladins can learn from this trend. They closely defeated the Mocs almost a month ago, 17-14, as they won the game with intense physicality, won the battle at the line of scrimmage, and on defense. It will take more than physicality and strong defense to defeat the Mocs again. They cannot go into this Saturday’s game expecting more of the same. 

But the Paladins of Nov. 4, 2023 are not the Paladins of today. Rival Wofford defeated the squad on Nov. 18 following a struggling offense and a few mistakes on defense. The Paladins will undoubtedly try to remedy these shortcomings in practice, but they will need to improve overall if they want to beat Chattanooga. 

On offense, the Paladins will need to be uncharacteristically aggressive. The Paladins can learn from Alabama Crimson Tide who defeated the Mocs earlier this Nov., 66-10. The Tide rolled through offensive aggression and won at the line of scrimmage with the offensive line. On the opening drive, Alabama QB Jalen Milroe, who has a similar play style and stature to Furman QB Tyler Huff, threw multiple deep passes for completions to score in under three minutes. 

Making the Mocs secondary run laps around the field by throwing aggressive and high-percentage deep passes will be crucial to victory. The Paladins must utilize a more up-tempo attack to prevent the Mocs from substituting players and keep Chattanooga’s defense tired. Being aggressive downfield will keep the Mocs’s defensive signal callers guessing, allowing Furman to open up the playbook and give RB Dominic Roberto some rushing attempts. 

On defense, the Paladins will face a new Chattanooga quarterback, freshman QB Luke Schomburg. Schomburg’s pocket-passing tendency will be one to watch for, as the Paladins struggled to defend the pass throughout the season and in their loss against Wofford. UTC’s thunder-and-lightning running backs Reggie Davis and Geno Appleberry Junior will also need to be accounted for. The Paladins have proven that they can stop the run. Furman can limit UTC’s play calling by pressuring Schomburg into bad passes or sacks, forcing the Mocs to run. 

The #7 Paladins will face the Mocs again this Saturday in what is likely the last game at Paladin Stadium this season at 1 p.m. The winner will face the victor of the #2 Montana and #11 Delaware game. Be there and be loud. Go Dins!

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