The Samford Bulldogs (1-3) were defeated by the Chattanooga Mocs (4-0) by a score of 27-20 last Saturday on the road. This was the Bulldogs’ third straight loss, with their sole win against Shorter on Aug. 30.
The Bulldogs once again leaned heavily on senior quarterback Devlin Hodges for their offensive production, and he threw a baffling 62 times against the Mocs. Hodges finished with 366 yards and a touchdown pass to Chris Shelling last Saturday, but also gave up three interceptions. His top target was standout senior receiver Kelvin McKnight, who had 12 receptions for 128 yards. The top rusher for the Bulldogs was freshman running back DeMarcus Ware, who had 15 rush attempts for 48 yards and a touchdown against the Mocs.
Chattanooga’s quarterback, Nick Tiano, also threw for two touchdowns over 35 attempts. Tiano finished the day 16 for 35, 278 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. He also rushed for 39 yards and picked up one rushing touchdown
The past two losses against Mercer and Chattanooga have left many Bulldog fans confused after such an impressive showing against Shorter and Florida State. Head coach Chris Hatcher says that his players are not to blame.
“We’re not playing very good football, and that’s on the coach, that’s me,” Hatcher said after Saturday’s contest in an interview with Samford Athletics. “And I’ve got to find a way to get us to start playing like we were back in training camp.”
Regardless of who should take the blame for the past three losses, the Bulldogs must look ahead to this Saturday’s game against the Kennesaw State Owls (3-1). The Owls average a deafening 50.25 points a game and are on a three game win streak. They are a run-heavy team, a complete contrast to the Bulldogs. They average 361 yards per game on the ground, while only averaging 111 yards per game in the air. Their running game has some serious depth, and the Bulldogs will need their defensive line to play solid, tough, and smart to limit it. Quarterback Chandler Burks and running backs Darnell Holland and Shaquil Terry are the centerpieces of this run-heavy offense, and they will need to be contained in order to secure a second Bulldog victory.
Coach Hatcher realizes that his Bulldogs must limit the turnovers and take better advantage of their scoring opportunities. Poor red zone offense, critical turnovers and missed opportunities are what Hatcher claims to need the most improvement for next week. Quarterback Devlin Hodges has an average of 368 yards per game in the air. That’s the highest amount of passing yards per game for any quarterback in the FCS. Hodges however has eight interceptions this year. The Bulldogs need to establish a more dominant running game, averaging only 111 rushing yards per game. This even includes a 200 yard rushing performance against Shorter. If Samford can play solid enough defense, establish a decent running game, and avoid turnovers, then defeating the Owls will be in reach.
The Bulldogs will play this Saturday, Sept. 29, at 5p.m. in Kennesaw, Georgia. The game can be viewed on ESPN3.