College football: Catawba home on Saturday vs. Wolves
By Mike London
SALISBURY — Catawba’s strongest effort of this forlorn football season, the only game in which it has put four quarters together, came at home on Sept. 28 when the Indians fell to Wingate, 13-10.
Finally playing another game at Shuford Stadium this Saturday at noon against South Atlantic Conference opponent Newberry, the Indians will look for the same type of intensity and execution they displayed against Wingate’s still undefeated Bulldogs.
There’s really only one way to go for Catawba (1-5, 0-3). The Indians, who haven’t tasted victory since a successful, non-conference road trip to Winston-Salem State on Sept. 14, are optimistic they have bottomed out. They were pulverized in recent road games at Limestone and Carson-Newman by a cumulative 111-38.
Newberry looks like a team Catawba should be able to play with — and maybe beat. Newberry’s Wolves are a 7-point favorite.
Newberry (2-4, 2-2) hasn’t exactly been rolling along, but it does own SAC victories against Tusculum and league newcomer UV-Wise. Newberry also owns SAC losses against lightly regarded Mars Hill and highly regarded Lenoir-Rhyne.
There are things Newberry does better than Catawba.
Newberry has 19 QB sacks. Catawba has only nine. A player to watch for Newberry is defensive end Keito Jordon, one of the school’s all-time sack leaders.
Newberry has created 14 turnovers, twice as many as Catawba.
Newberry’s pass defense has been better than Catawba’s. That’s a big reason Newberry is allowing 21 points per game. Catawba allows 34.
Newberry, like just about everyone else in Division II, has a huge edge on Catawba in preventing third-down conversions. Offenses have converted a whopping 54 percent of the time against Catawba. They’ve converted 43 percent against the Wolves.
Offensively, the teams have similar numbers, with both managing a little over 300 yards per game. Catawba relies a little more on the run than the Wolves. For some reason, Newberry has done more than half of its scoring in the second quarter.
Newberry has used two QBs. It’s not like the Wolves have a “running quarterback” and a “throwing quarterback.” Both Colton Bailey, a redshirt freshman who is listed as the starter, and Dre Harris have put it in the air frequently.
Catawba doesn’t have many edges on the Wolves, but the biggest is penalty yards. Newberry gets penalized a lot (59 times for 491 yards). Catawba doesn’t (32 times for 288 yards).
Catawba leads the all-time series 41-38-3. Newberry romped 40-10 last season at home, but Catawba has won the last two meetings at Shuford Stadium.
Pleasant temperatures are expected Saturday, but rain is expected to move in at some point in the afternoon.