Better Know The Opponent, Week Two: Virginia Union

Better Know The Opponent, Week Two: Virginia Union

JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. - This is the second part in an 11-part series breaking down all of Carson-Newman football's opponents for the 2018 season.  This feature analyzes the Eagles' week two road trip to Richmond to play Virginia Union.

For a second straight week, Carson-Newman takes on a foe that it has never played before that features a player listed on Lindy's Preseason All-America team. 

The Eagles are set for a Sept. 8 showdown with the Panthers and reigning CIAA Defensive Player of the Year and Lindy's preseason All-American Sterling Hammond. 

A junior DB from Caret, Va., Hammond finished the season ranked first in the CIAA with five interceptions. He tallied 70 total tackles, including 46 solo tackles.

Hammond is the first VUU football player to be named to the Lindy's Pre-Season All-American Team since David Mims in 2010.

While Hammond led the Panthers defense and the VUU pass defense was adept at slowing opposing teams down last year, the Panthers were suspect in stopping opposing running games.

Only LIU Post and Bowie State tallied more than 300 yards through the air against last year's 6-4 Panthers team.  However, VUU allowed four teams to pound out at least 200 yards rushing, and a fifth, Virginia State, gained 194 yards. 

The Panthers also notched a 31-23 win over Newberry last year.

Virginia Union has been picked to finish third in the CIAA's Northern Division and fifth in the league overall. 

The Panthers will try to become the first CIAA team to beat Carson-Newman in 17 years. The Eagles have won 13 straight games against CIAA competition. The Eagles last lost in 2001 to Winston-Salem State 27-16. C-N is 14-1 all-time against the league.

The Eagles have beaten the CIAA's Saint Augustine's in back-to-back years.  The offensive coordinator from those Falcons teams was Dr. Alvin Parker.  He's now the head coach for his alma mater Virginia Union. 

The Falcons moved the ball decently well against the Eagles two years ago in Raleigh, N.C.  In particular, the Falcons QB DJ Johnson made the Eagles pay on scramble drills with 66 yards rushing on 14 carries.  Wide receiver Sam Boyd had 10 catches for 66 yards. 

However, the Eagles were a bit more defensively dominant on the Parker-coached Falcons last year.  C-N limited the Falcons to 297 yards of total offense and made eight stops in the backfield with three sacks. 

This is Parker's second stint with the Panthers.  He served as offensive coordinator and running backs coach at Virginia Union for five successful seasons (1999-2003) which saw the Panthers win 38 games and advance to the three CIAA title games in four years (2000, 2001, 2003). During his first run as a coach at his alma mater, Parker called signals alongside his collegiate coach and mentor Willard Bailey a CIAA Hall of Famer and the conference's all-time winningest coach.

Parker will get to lead an offense that tallied 31 points per game last year and averaged 386 yards of total offense.  227 of the Panthers yards came aerially, while 159 came on the ground.

Six starters are back on offense for the Panthers.  

The game will take place at Hovey Field, which holds some historical significance.  Used by Virginia Union since 1907, it is the second-oldest college football stadium still in use in the United States.  Hovey Field is the oldest natural grass football stadium in the country. Harvard Stadium, built in 1903, is the only older college football stadium still in use.

This will be Carson-Newman's first trip to Virginia since a 2006 jaunt to Petersburg to play Virginia State.  The Eagles prevailed over the Trojans that day 27-21. 

The Better Know The Opponent series continues Tuesday with a look at defending South Atlantic Conference Champ Wingate. 

Game Day Central 9-22-18
September 22, 2018 Game Day Central 9-22-18