JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. - This is the third in an 11-part series chronicling each of Carson-Newman football's opponents for the 2013 season. Today's feature is week three opponent Brevard. The Eagles and Tornados open up their conference schedules at 1 p.m. on the banks of Mossy Creek.
In 2012, Brevard put a scare into the visiting Carson-Newman Eagles and with good reason. The Tornados had C-N deadlocked at the half 7-7 before C-N jumped out to a 35-19 win.
In hanging tough with the Eagles, the Tornados became the first team in two decades (New Haven in 1993) to produce two, 100-yard rushers against the Eagles' defense. Jordan Ollis (17-132) and Andre Overholt (10-125) both crested the century mark on the chilly October afternoon and both are a part of a flexbone offense that returns eight starters from last year.
Ollis led BC with 558 yards rushing and seven scores last year, while Overholt had 372 yards on the ground. His long rush of 69 yards came in the loss to C-N last year.
Brevard and head coach Paul Hamilton must find a way to replace All-SAC receiver Eric Watts, as well as starting QB Jaquan Marsh. While the flexbone offense the Tornados run doesn't lend itself to much passing, Brevard doesn't have a quarterback on the roster who's completed a pass in game action. The good news for the Tornados is that they return four members of their offensive line, which should aid in any issues with a quarterback transition.
Defensively, BC brings back two ball-hawking linebackers. Michael Gruber and Billy Muscatello both had an astounding nose for the football in 2012. Gruber tallied 117 takedowns, with Muscatello accounting for another 110. Gruber ranked 17th and Muscatello 30th nationally in tackles per game. The Tornados were the only team in the nation with a pair of players with more than 100 tackles.
The Tornados return six other defensive starters, including linebacker Rufus Jenkins, who led the team with 7.5 tackles for loss last year.
In addition to his duties as a receiver, BC will have to account for Watts' duties as a punter. He was an effective field position flipper last year with the sixth best net punting average in the nation.
In the six-year history of the series, Brevard has never bested Carson-Newman; however, the Tornados are getting closer. After Carson-Newman rolled to a 77-7 win in 2009, the Tornados have stayed within 18 of the Eagles in each of the last three games. That includes a 27-24 nail biter in 2011.
The next installment of the Better Know an Opponent series features Catawba and will be available Monday morning.