JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. - This is the ninth in an 11-part series breaking down each of Carson-Newman football's opponents for the 2016 season. This feature breaks down C-N's homecoming and senior day foe, Limestone.
Limestone registers as the third of four schools that C-N will play in 2016 that will be breaking in brand new head coaches.
Mike Furrey joins the Saints after spending two seasons as the head football coach at Kentucky Christian University followed by three years on Doc Holliday's staff at Marshall. Prior to his time in the coaching ranks, he played eight seasons in the NFL with the St. Louis Rams, the Detroit Lions, the Cleveland Browns, and the Washington Redskins.
Furrey takes over a Limestone program still in its infancy as the Blue and Gold will play in just its third season of competition in 2016. The Saints are 4-17 over its first two years, and will be starting its second year of a four-year scheduling alliance with the South Atlantic Conference.
During his tenure with the Thundering Herd, Furrey helped guide the program to three straight bowl wins and the 2014 Conference USA Championship. Marshall led Conference USA in scoring offense while ranking in the Top-5 nationally in total offense during the 2013 and 2014 campaigns.
Furrey could be bringing some top-flight, albeit troubled talent with him from Huntington in the name of Steward Butler.
As of last week, Butler appeared on Limestone's football roster – but no longer. The issue, according to Landon's article, boils down to whether Marshall will allow him to re-enroll to complete the final nine hours of classes he has remaining to earn his undergraduate degree, leaving him with the one year for a master's that he could pursue at Limestone.
Butler would be an injection of instant offense for the Saints. He is Marshall 13th-leading rusher all-time and ranks second in Herd history for yards per carry.
Whether the Saints are actually able to add the potential difference-maker at running back doesn't change the fact that the Saints return the bulk of their players for year three of the program.
The Saints return 16 starters from last year's club, including nine on offense. Ga'Quan Maize led the Saints rushing attack last season to the toon of 684 yards on 155 carries.
Furrey will have plenty of options to turn to at quarterback. The Saints employed three separate quarterbacks at times in the Eagles' 69-28 win over Limestone last year. Jonathan Clark has the most experience of the trio. He started eight games with Bo Whitney and Matthew Harkness each starting one apiece. Clark threw 98 times, Whitney 90 and Harkness 72. Only Clark completed at least 50 percent of his passes, but he also threw 11 picks, more than Whitney and Harkness combined.
Regardless of whom the starting signal caller actually is, the Saints boast a deep receiving corps which features five wideouts who each caught at least 10 passes a year ago. D'Anta Fleming is the top returning talent after a 453-yard campaign in 2015.
Defensively, there's lots of room for improvement for a unit that gave up 30 points in all but three games last year.
The Better Know the Opponent series continues August 3 with North Greenville.