VIDEO: Mike Turner Press Conference
VIDEO: 2016 Newberry Highlight Reel
JEFFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – Carson-Newman's (2-1, 0-1 South Atlantic Conference) early season successes have been predicated in part by a defense that is doing things that no unit for Carson-Newman has done in the decade.
The Eagles welcome in the reigning South Atlantic Conference champs Newberry (1-2, 0-0 SAC) looking for a fourth consecutive game with less than 300 yards of total offense allowed.
Kickoff between Carson-Newman and Newberry is set for 1 p.m. Saturday.
Carson-Newman is in the midst of just the fifth stretch since the year 2000 of three games or more where the defense has limited its opposition to 300 yards of total offense or less. This is the first time since the 2007 season that Carson-Newman pulled off this feat.
"It says that our kids are playing hard, they played hard and you can make up for some mistakes," C-N head coach Mike Turner said. "We still want to be an attacking team I think that our kids responded well to that."
In this century, Carson-Newman has made it five straight games in one season with less than 300 yards of total offense allowed each week. However, the Eagles did close the 2005 season with four such games before opening the 2006 year with four straight as well.
If the Eagles are going to continue their streak, they'll have to play well against a Newberry club that has shown it can take to the air.
"When you go play Newberry and you're too worried about pass and coverage and those kinds of things, then you weaken yourself from the inside," C-N head coach Mike Turner said. "You just got to play your assignments and attack the line of scrimmage."
The Wolves come into the contest with their own impressive streak. Newberry QB Nick Jones set a school completion percentage record against Virginia-Lynchburg last Saturday by connecting on 93.3 percent of his passes. He finished his day 14-for-15 for 177 yards and two touchdowns. Jones enters the Carson-Newman game on a streak of 13 consecutive completions.
Jones was under center last year for Newberry as a true freshman as the Wolves downed Wingate in the final week of the regular season at Setzer Field to clinch Newberry the SAC title outright.
"He is a very talented athlete who is going to make plays," Turner said. "He's established himself as a run threat and is part of their offense and is part of their plan. They've got weapons, they got receivers who are very explosive. It all came together for them in their first home game last weekend."
Carson-Newman hopes history is on its side in the contest. Home teams have dominated the series of late between the Eagles and Wolves. A visiting hasn't won a game in the series since 2011, when Newberry downed the Eagles 24-3 at Burke-Tarr Stadium. The home team is 9-2 in the series over the last decade.
In fact, Carson-Newman has won 12 of the last 13 meetings in Jefferson City dating back to 1990. The Eagles hold a 20-6 advantage over the Wolves all-time in games played at Burke-Tarr Stadium.
That history will need to hold true if C-N is to avoid an 0-2 start in South Atlantic Conference play. The Eagles have started 0-2 in league play just once in the 42-year history of the South Atlantic Conference. That was back in 2011 when C-N dropped its first three conference games to Lenoir-Rhyne, Newberry and Wingate. Meanwhile, Newberry has won seven of its last eight conference openers.
Turner has kept up the positive vibes to prevent a 31-27 loss to Wingate from biting the Eagles twice.
"In this game you got to have a short memory, you can't remember how good you were last Saturday, or you can't remember the bad things that happened last Saturday, you got to get up and go," Turner said. "I've seen a lot of football teams that one loss cost them two, because they haven't gotten over it yet. We had a great team meeting yesterday, we spent time with video and teaching and trying to make corrections that we needed to make."
Carson-Newman wide receiver Dorren Miller (Roswell, Ga.) leads the country in yards per catch. The senior is averaging an absurd 36.4 yards a touch. In backwards land, Miller leads the league in receiving yards with 121.3 a game, as well as in touchdowns with four.
It is the first time in the last six years that a Carson-Newman football player has led the league in receiving past week two. Adding to the bizareness, it also marks the first time in the last six years that Carson-Newman hasn't had a player ranked among the league's top five rushers. Jared Dillingham leads the Eagles with 167 yards on the season and three scores.
Miller is the first C-N receiver in a year to record back-to-back 100-yard receiving efforts. Lonnie Williams pulled off the trick last year against Catawba and Mars Hill.
The last time the Eagles and Wolves got together, Newberry lived in C-N's backfield in a 34-19 Newberry win. The Eagles allowed 14 tackles for loss on the day, which tied a school record set by Wingate on Oct. 1, 2011. The eight sacks allowed surpassed the record set by Tusculum on Oct. 25, 2013.
The Eagles will be looking to score a win over a defending SAC champion for the first time since 2012. That year, the Eagles beat the reigning SAC champs, Lenoir-Rhyne, twice. C-N waltzed to a 47-22 win in the regular season before squeezing out a 38-35 triumph in a home playoff game. Since then, the Eagles were downed by the Bears on four occasions (twice in 2013) and Catawba.
Newberry is on a school-record 10-game winning streak in South Atlantic Conference games, outscoring opponents 374-128 during that span. Its last SAC loss came by a 27-20 score at Carson-Newman on Oct. 17, 2015, 708 days prior to this year's matchup with the Eagles.
Kickoff between the Eagles and Wolves is set for 1 p.m. on Saturday. Coverage for the contest starts at noon on the Eagle Sports Network with the AEC Tailgate Show on Joy 620 (WRJZ-AM, Knoxville), Mountain Country 106.3 (WPFT-FM, Sevierville) and online at cneagles.com/live.