And now for something completely different …
The University of the Incarnate Word (10-1) has a football team that has scored more than 50 points six times. The Cardinals average 582.4 yards of offense. They allow 337.7. The quarterback, Lindsey Scott Jr., has thrown for 3,791 yards and 50 touchdowns. He has been intercepted four times.
Furman has been playing football since 1889. On Saturday, at 2 p.m. EST (1 there), in the 2nd round of the FCS playoffs, the Paladins are playing in Texas for the 1st time. Ten current players are from there.
It’s a really, really rare old home week.
The foes have some attributes in common. They’re both private. Furman (10-2) is in the Southern Conference. Incarnate Word is in the Southland. Furman quarterback Tyler Huff played previously at Presbyterian. Scott arrived at UIW after stops at LSU, East Mississippi Community College, Missouri and Nicholls State.
UIW also has a 1,000-yard rusher, Marcus Cooper (1,044). Five years ago, he rushed for 148 yards against UIW while playing for Southeastern Louisiana.
Furman has the aforementioned 10 from Texas. UIW’s roster has nine who aren’t.
If Clay Hendrix and his staff had some uncertainty about what to expect when they collectively went to video, it’s understandable.
Incarnate Word plays at a rapid pace. Its offense will attempt to make it difficult the Paladins to keep fresh defenders on the field, and the depth of Duane Vaughn’s defense is its greatest strength.
That defense had a vintage day in the 31-6 conquest of Elon in the opening round.
“I think it started with how we played on that side of the ball and really solid special teams again,” Hendrix said.
Incarnate Word, by virtue of being 7th seeded, had a 1st-round bye.
“I don’t want a bye week right now,” the Furman coach added. “We’re playing pretty well. We’re pretty healthy for this time of year. This is week 17 of football practice. People only count the games, but they forget about the August practice that led up to them.
“I don’t think this will be a 14-10 game. … They’re a team that doesn’t possess the ball very long. I don’t think they care to. We’re a team that actually possesses the ball quite a bit. … I loved having it for almost 10 minutes on the 4th-quarter drive [versus Elon]. … You don’t need to reinvent the wheel. You need to be who you are.”
The key word is “keep.” Keep moving and keep the ball out of Cardinal hands.
The Texans are, of course, excited. One, wide receiver Wayne Anderson Jr., of Prosper, caught 4 passes against the Phoenix.
“For the offense, our defense is a momentum builder,” Anderson said. “Just know that the defense didn’t allow [an Elon] touchdown. That definitely gives the offense, a lot more confidence that we build off each other.”
Furman hasn’t played in the same time zone as UIW, either by clock or tempo.
“It starts with preparation every week,” said strong safety Kam Brinson of Augusta, Ga., on Monday. “We know to be successful on Saturdays, we’ve got to have a good week practicing. If we do that, I think we can go take care of business in Texas.”
These teams take care of business in vastly different ways. Furman’s performance against Elon checked all the boxes: productive balance of run and pass, ball control, time of possession and big plays on defense and special teams.
The last time UIW played, Northwestern State of Louisiana fell, 60-7. The Cardinals want to take no prisoners. The Paladins want to take lots of them.