The Furman Paladins, or Paladians, as they prefer to be called, are coming off of consecutive losing seasons that led to a coaching change this past winter. As you might recall, NC State assistant (and Furman alum) Des Kitchings was a finalist for the job. The Paladins ultimately chose Air Force assistant Clay Hendrix, who is also an alum.
Hendrix inherited a program coming off a 3-8 season, and worse, he had to replace fourteen starters this season (seven on both sides), including the quarterback.
Furman is off to an 0-2 start, but the team hasn’t exactly been a disaster, dropping a 1-point game to a ranked Wofford squad and losing on a last-second field goal to Elon. The Paladins were also competitive against ranked FCS opponents in 2016 despite their poor record, if nothing else proving that they could be competitive within the FCS.
Furman is relying more on the ground game this season, averaging more than 46 rushes per game, though the team does return a couple of solid contributors at receiver and has been able to hit on some big plays through the air.
The worrisome thing for the Paladins as they head into a game against an FBS team is the fact that both of their offensive tackles are redshirt freshmen. That offensive line is not big by FBS standards, either, which would seem to spell trouble at the point of attack.
Defensively, they run a 3-4 attack anchored by a couple of returners up front, but the rest of the front seven is relatively new, and there is a lot of youth on the two-deep. So far the unit has allowed 5.4 yards per play and 8.3 yards per pass attempt, and while neither figure is dreadful, this does not inspire confidence for their fortunes on Saturday.