JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. - This is the second in a 10-part series breaking down each of Carson-Newman football's opponents for the 2014 season. This feature breaks down the Eagles' week two contest – Sept. 13 at Wayne State.
Carson-Newman will make its second trip to Detroit, Mich. to face off with the Warriors. Last year, the Eagles knocked down WSU 55-28 in Burke-Tarr Stadium, but back in 1994, the Eagles sneaked out of the Wolverine State with a 16-13 win.
Last year, the Eagles pounced on the Warriors early and often. The Eagles rolled up 575 yards of total offense and by the end of the game, De'Andre Thomas had set the Carson-Newman single-game QB efficiency record with a 357 mark after completing eight-of-10 passes for 213 yards with three scores.
The Warriors return seven starters on both offense and defense from last season including Sean Guinane and Carl Roscoe at quarterback. The duo split time in the opener against C-N last year and combined to toss for 333 yards with three touchdowns. Guinane was 12-for-22 with two scores while Roscoe connected on 14-of-23 passes for an even 200 yards and a score.
Three of the Warriors top four targets are back from last year, including Michael Johnson, who had 112 of his team-high 431 yards receiving against the Eagles.
While the passing game was successful a year ago against C-N, the Eagles were able to slow down the Warriors power running game. Wayne State only gained 79 yards on the ground, led by Desmond Martin's 23 yards (21 of which came on one run) on six carries. Wayne State's all-time leading rusher, Toney Davis, only gained 13 yards last year, but has since graduated.
The show is Martin's in the backfield. Leading the way for Martin and company, Wayne State returns most of its offensive line, including four of five starters. Three-year veteran Thom Box has the most experience with 28 starts at center for WSU. Other starters returning are senior left tackle Ben Walker, junior guard/tackle Nate Theaker, sophomore tackle Robert Kelly, and sophomore guard Sawyer McFadden. All five have combined for 75 starts at Wayne State.
Defensively, the Warriors bring back all four members of their secondary, including fourth-leading tackler Zak Bielecki and his 43 tackles from a year ago. Senior cornerback Gerren DuHart has made 29 career starts for Wayne State, while junior Brandon McKay-Lee started the last seven games during the 2013. Sophomore Lairren Johnson played in every game in 2013,
Perhaps Wayne State's strongest position last year, linebacker may be the thinnest in terms of depth in 2014. Gone are leading tackler Ed
Viverette – who had 91 tackles last year and 13 against the Eagles, Moe Davenport and Steve O'Shell. The trio combined for 69 starts. Even with the losses, senior and three-year letterwinner Nores Fradi returns at linebacker. He made 10 starts last season and was second on the team in tackles-for-loss with 8.5 and third in total tackles with 61. He had a seven-tackle game against C-N Anthony DeDamos made 29 stops in 2013 and gives WSU a physical linebacker in the middle at 6-2, 250 pounds.
Up front, the line loses All-GLIAC end Greg Hasse and Mike Laamanen, but the interior remains intact in junior nose tackles Raafat El Hage and Ryan Hankins, along with senior tackle Sam Sillmon.
On special teams, Junior Majd Khytaz and redshirt freshman Paul Graham will share reps at kicker and punter for the Warriors. They will look to fill the shoes left by All-American Stefan Terleckyj, who finished his career as the WSU career leader in field goals made and points by a kicker. He was ninth in the nation last year in yards per punt.
Carson-Newman's Better Know The Opponent series returns Tuesday with a preview of week three opponent Brevard.