Better Know the Opponent: Week seven, Mars Hill

JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. - This is the seventh part in an 11-part series breaking down all of Carson-Newman football's opponents for the 2017 season.  This feature analyzes the Eagles' week-seven opponent, Mars Hill.

Week seven sees Carson-Newman play back-to-back road games for the first time in 2017.  The Eagles make the short jaunt up the mountains to take on Mars Hill at Meares Stadium. 

The Eagles have rung the Lions bell offensively ever since Tim Clifton's club denied then head coach Ken Sparks his first shot a 300th career win in 2011.  C-N has won five straight in the series. 

Since then, Carson-Newman hasn't rushed for less than 420 yards.  The Eagles rushed for 488 in 2012, 433 in 2013, 428 in 2014, 435 in 2015 and 428 in 2016. What's more, the Eagles have produced at least 500 yards of total offense in four of those five games, including 672 yards of total offense on a school-record 100 plays this past year. The Eagles tied a school record with eight rushing touchdowns in the 2015 game. 

That's good news for Carson-Newman too, Mars Hill only returns four starters from last year's unit defensively. The Lions front four is all new with the graduation of Jamel Brintley, Markece Cunningham, Chris Daniels and Tyler Guy Parish. 

Jerjuan Edwards, a preseason All-SAC pick, returns to anchor the linebacking corps with Chris Leamon.  Edwards made 70 stops last year with four sacks and nine tackles for loss. 

Anthony Carson and Chris Ferdinand return in the secondary for the Lions. 

While the loss of seven seniors could hamper the defense, Tim Clifton's creative offense and play calling will have plenty of weapons at its disposal. 

The Lions lose stalwart center Joe Hillin, as well as standout tailback Jamel Harbison. 

However, the Lions return both their quarterbacks in David Salmon and Austin Brown.  Salmon is the more efficient passer, hurling for 1,267 yards last year and 10 scores.  Brown is the more nimble of the two, scampering for 264 yards rushing and two touchdowns, in addition to his 814 yards passing and eight scores through the air.

They will have an exceptionally talented and deep receiving corps to work with, arguably the most athletic in the SAC. 

Craig Rucker led the South Atlantic Conference in receiving touchdowns with 10 last year.   He also ranked second in the league in receiving yards with 846 through the air.

Meanwhile, Keshaun Taylor snagged 591 yards worth of passes and five scores in an injury-shortened season.  Both players are all-conference caliber wide receivers.

Malik Prescott returns at tailback after rushing for 699 yards as Harbison's backup last year.  He also scored seven touchdowns to give the Lions a legitimate ground-game threat.

The Better Know the Opponent Series continues August 14 with North Greenville. 

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