Samford Bulldogs Finally Playing Football: What we Learned from Week 1
So. We waited all this time to finally have Samford football back, and things got off to a bit of a rocky start. For those who didn’t see the game, Samford lost to Eastern Tennessee State on Saturday 24-17. It’s not all bad though! Let me try to put a positive spin on this…at least FCS can’t get any mainstream coverage so no one was able to watch Samford lose in week one! That is unless your name is Deion Sanders and you want to beat up on sisters of the poor in week one, but that’s another story.
But hey, at least we are back with some Bulldog football! (with some fresh new icy road unis too) And it’s only week one, and we learned a lot about this year’s team. Let’s breakdown the loss from Johnson City and talk about where the Dogs go from here. For a brief breakdown, here’s how the game went:
- Samford scores on its first two drives to jump out to a 14-0 lead. (Great!)
- ETSU scores a late 2nd Quarter touchdown and and early 3rd Quarter touchdown to tie the game 14-14. (Not so great)
- Samford able to make a field goal after a long kickoff return, 17-14 Dogs. (Money Mitch let’s go!)
- ETSU kicks a field goal early in the 4th, 17-17. (uh oh)
- ETSU scores with 5:28 left in the game on really the only explosive play of the day, a 59 years TD pass to gain their first lead of the day, 24-17. (time to panic)
- Samford is unable to score on the final drive of the game, and an interception seals the win for the Bucs. (big sad)
There were a couple key takeaways from this game however. For one, we finally know who the starting quarterback will be (or at least was.) Head coach Chris Hatcher had not yet named a starter between seniors Chris Oladokun and Liam Welch, and has openly discussed the possibility of giving both men ample playing time this season. However it was Oladokun who started the game, and he stayed in the backfield for the full 60 minutes. Now this sounds a little odd, seeing how the offense stalled out after the first quarter, but the lack of production can’t fully be placed on the QB position. Chris played a solid game at 35-54 (yes 54) with 222 yards (a SoCon high) and a touchdown. He did throw two picks, although one was a desperation throw at the end of the game while being chased around in the backfield, which was not an uncommon sight unfortunately. However that was to be expected with three first time starters on the offensive line. Perhaps this is why Chris got the nod over Liam. Oladokun has historically been more mobile in the backfield than Liam, although neither is afraid to run (we saw this against The Citadel) so it makes sense for Chris to start behind an offensive line that had some weaker moments during the game. But all the blame can’t be put on the line for Dogs either, there were plenty of dropped balls that could’ve been big gains and kept drives alive and the defense off the field.
So let’s talk about the defense. Despite the score, this Bulldogs defense looked much improved from last year. Samford welcomed in Nick Benedetto, a new DC this season from DII Sioux Falls in South Dakota. Benedetto’s defenses were consistently top tier at the DII level, averaging only 15.6 points given up per game during his time at Sioux Falls. Defense was a issue for the Bulldogs in 2019, allowing 37.8 ppg, so we’re all looking forward to any positive changes Benedetto can bring. It will be a story to watch this spring watching both of Samford’s first year coordinators in their first seasons.
From here the Bulldogs will host their first home game in 476 days this Saturday against the Catamounts of Western Catalina, and let me tell you I am PUMPED! This is a winnable game, and should be a great way to welcome Bulldog football back to campus, and fans back to Seibert Stadium. Is it forecasted to likely be raining the whole time, yes it is. Is it likely to be weird with all the students spread out because of COVID on the visitor sideline, absolutely. Am I still excited for a Samford home football game? You bet your biscuits I am!
Make sure to come out to a Samford game this spring, there are only 4 at home so make them count. Keep checking back with BHM Sports for more Samford updates, as well as all the other sports news in Birmingham.