The last time the Samford Bulldogs took the field was Nov. 23., 2019. Since that game, two NFL and College Football teams have won National Championships and there have been two presidential impeachments.
Many thought that the 2020-2021 school year would finish without a game played in Seibert Stadium. The Southern Conference was one of the few division one conferences that did not play any games in the fall.
Even though the COVID-19 pandemic took the entire year of 2020 away from the Bulldogs, the past is in the past, and the Bulldogs will begin their season on Feb. 20 against ETSU.
The Bulldogs have been practicing since July in preparation for this season. They will be under the direction of head coach Chris Hatcher. This will be Hatchers’ sixth season with Samford and currently has a 32-26 overall record.
Many of the Bulldogs’ questions or this season were the same questions from last season. Sitting on top of the list is the need to find the pieces to develop a solid defense and choose a quarterback to lead the team.
Last year, Chris Oladokun and Liam Welch shared snaps at the quarterback position. Oladokun accounted for 2,557 yards, 26 touchdowns and seven interceptions. Welch accounted for 919 yards, 10 touchdowns and seven interceptions. Oladokun started eight of the Bulldogs’ 12 games in 2019, and Welch started the other four contests.
Another huge question this season surrounds some new faces on the coaching staff. There will be a total of at least five new coaches who will work under Hatcher this season. Both the offensive and defensive coordinator positions had to be filled over the extended offseason.
After tenured coordinator Russ Calloway left the Bulldogs to join the coaching staff at LSU, Hatcher promoted Derrick Sherman to offensive coordinator last March. Sherman was the receivers coach under Calloway in his previous two seasons with Samford.
On the other side of the ball, Nick Benedetto was brought in as defensive coordinator. Benedetto has been the defensive coordinator at the University of Sioux Falls the past three seasons. In 2019, his defense ranked fourth in NCAA Division II in total defense. His units only yielded 15.6 points per game during his time with the team.
The Bulldogs will only play Southern Conference opponents this season in an eight-game schedule rather than the normal 12-game schedule.