JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. - This is the 10th 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 second to last regular season contest of 2016 at North Greenville.
Jeff Farrington's biggest challenge in his third year at the helm of North Greenville will be finding a replacement for the only quarterback he's known as NGU's head coach – Nelson Hughes.
Hughes' steady hand guided NGU to a 7-3 record last year and a game away from an NCAA playoff berth. If he doesn't throw five of his eight picks on the season against the Eagles, NGU likely makes its first postseason appearance since 2011.
He completed 64 percent of his passes with a 154.5 efficiency rating to go along with 22 touchdowns. North Greenville has four quarterbacks on the roster who could replace Hughes, redshirt-sophomore Will Hunter, Florida Atlantic transfer Mike Calabro and a pair of freshmen in Donny Baker and Collin Sneed.
Hunter and Calabro each saw action last year for the Crusaders. Hunter was 4-for-10 for 56 yards and a score across three games; meanwhile, Calabro completed all three of his passes attempted in one game with a touchdown to boot.
There's plenty of skill around whomever NGU's quarterback is. The leading receivers are back. A 6-6, 230-pound monster in Mason Sanders led the corps last year with 42 catches, 13 touchdowns and 588 yards. Robbie Brown provided a smaller, speedier option, hauling in 34 passes for 438 yards and a quartet of touchdowns.
Ashton Heard also returns for his senior season at tailback for NGU. He rushed for 1,096 yards last season with seven touchdowns. Heard could feature more prominently with second-leading rusher Trey Walker out of the picture; however, Simeon Byrd did rush for 362 yards and three scores last season as well. He is back for his senior year.
Defensively, the Crusaders return their top tackler Sam Houston from a unit that allowed 23.7 points and 351 yards per game.
In fact, of NGU's top five tacklers from last season, only one leaves. Tony Godbolt (LB) and Nigel Gay (DB) round out a solid defense from a year ago.