Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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College Sports

September 15, 2012

Bluefield Rams expect up-tempo game from Faulkner

BLUEFIELD — The Eagles are landing in Mitchell Stadium. The Faulkner University Eagles (1-1) from Montgomery, Ala., are set to swoop into Nature’s Air Conditioned City this afternoon for a Mid South Confer-ence matchup against the Bluefield College Rams (0-3).

The Rams return to the home turf after their first road trip in 71 years last week, a 33-14 loss to Kentucky Christian in which the BC committed six turnovers. Faulkner comes into the contest off a 33-20 loss at Georgetown, Ky.

BC head coach Mike Gravier expects an up-tempo game with a lot of bodies flying around on defense.

“They (Faulkner) led the NAIA in passing offense and total offense last year, so they’ve got those pieces in place,” Gravier said. “Defensively all 11 starters are either junior college guys, or transfers, so they’ve brought in a lot of new faces and they are playing extremely well.”

One defensive player Faulkner will not have is Ray Ray Armstrong. Armstrong, formerly of the University of Miami, was ruled ineligible to play by the NAIA. A free safety, Armstrong was dismissed from the Hurricanes in July. NAIA rules bar any athlete “who has been permanently banned in a given sport at any four-year institution.”

Brent Barker is the new head coach at Faulkner, the third coach in the five-year history of the program and Gravier expects fireworks when the Eagles have the ball.

“They’re going to play fast, maybe even a little bit quicker than we do,” Gravier said. “We’re not quite up to that tempo yet, just because we’re not there experience wise. But they’ve been in this offense for the last two, or three years. They’ve got the tempo down and they’re definitely going to try to take advantage.

“During practice we’ve tried to simulate that as much as we can by running two plays in a row and making the defense line up quickly. “

Gravier believes that one of the keys to a Bluefield victory is jumping out quickly on Faulkner.

“They’re a three man front, but they’re blitzing somebody every play and they are pretty aggressive with it,” Gravier said. “They have a lot of speed and they are very physical, a very emotional defense, which can sometimes play into your hand as an offense. If you get them down early, sometimes that emotion can go the other way.”

Another important key for the Rams is protecting the football and taking it away from Faulkner.

“As much as they are going to throw the ball, we’re going to have opportunities to get interceptions,” Gravier said. “We’ve got to continue to be aggressive on defense and force them into mistakes, and then when we do, we need to protect the football on offense and take advantage of those mistakes.

“Against Kentucky Christian was the first game that we scored after a turnover. We need to have that killer instinct on offense when our defense gets the ball back for us.”

Cory Mabry saw his first action at quarterback for BC last week at Kentucky Christian and completed 10-of-25 passes for 88 yards with an interception. Josh Wells led the Rams in rushing with 56 yards.

For the season Josh Wells leads BC in rushing with 158 yards. Rodrell Smith has caught 14 passes for 168 yards and Michael Nesmith has snagged 11 balls for 103 yards. Anthony Rivers has picked off three passes.

Kickoff at Mitchell Stadium is set for 1 p.m. and the game can be heard on WHIS AM 1440/WTZE AM 1470.

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