Fun Fact: Formerly Boiling Springs Junior College, the school changed its name to Gardner-Webb in 1942 to honor former North Carolina governor Oliver Max Gardner and his wife. Gardner played football at both NC State and UNC-Chapel Hill and was the only person ever to captain both teams.(Update: Coincidentally, Tim Peeler wrote a piece about Gardner today. Seems to confirm he was a State guy, so there go all my John Edwards jokes. Sigh. HT: James.)
Affiliations: Division I-AA, Big South Conference
First Game: 1970
All-Time Record: 209-215-5
Head Coach: Steve Patton (13th season; 79-54 at GWU).
Fun Fact: The Bulldogs are 1-54 all-time against Coastal Carolina.
All-Name Team: Quantavis Jackson, Oluwadamilola Teniola
Last Week: Beat Western Carolina 27-20.
Returning Starters: 23 between the offense, defense, and special teams.
The Bulldogs have finished 5-6 or 6-5 in each of the last five seasons; a true rock of mediocrity, this program. In terms of both their recent track record and their position in the I-AA polls, they're pretty similar to Murray State. Patton even went so far as to admit, "there’s probably not a lot of difference in the talent we have and Murray State." So in terms of the overall challenge--or lack thereof--the picture remains the same.
But they do offer different looks from Murray State both offensively (spread) and defensively (4-3), which hopefully will be helpful to the Wolfpack in some way.
2008 Vitals: 68th in rushing, 16th in passing, 47th in passing efficiency, 27th in total offense, 69th in scoring. (All ranks I-AA.)
Quarterback Stan Doolittle (6-3, 224) has thrown for more than 3400 yards in 27 career appearances but doesn't have the sort of TD-to-INT ratio that suggests a good decision maker. On the Hunter Cantwell You-Should-Consider-A-Lower-Profile-Position-Unless-You're-Awesome Scale, he rates somewhere towards the middle.
At running back, the Bulldogs have four guys who've run for a combined 3600+ yards in their career. Senior Phillip Peoples (6-0, 220), who ran for 602 yards and six scores in 2008, figures to get most of the work.
There's plenty of experience back at receiver as well, though Gardner-Webb returns just one guy who has been a major contributor in the past: James Perry III (6-0, 184).
2008 Vitals: 30th in rushing, 93rd in passing, 78th in passing efficiency, 54th in total defense, 52nd in scoring. (All ranks I-AA.)
Linebacker Mario Brown (6-2, 239) was the Big South's 2008 pre-season Defensive Player of the Year but ended up missing the majority of that season. Jeffrey Williams (6-0, 229) led the unit without him; Williams has piled up 100+ tackles in each of the last two seasons. They're both back. Returnees Marty Patterson (6-3, 220) and Oluwadamilola Teniola (5-11, 227) were also in on a bunch of stops in '08, and together they form an extremely experienced group.
It's a similar story at the other positions--plenty of returning experience. None of it matters, but it's there.