Handicapping this year’s CIAA Football Championship by the numbers is actually pretty easy, everything points towards Virginia State University. Well, almost everything. If it comes down to a field goal you got this Broncos! Fayetteville State University is at a clear statistical disadvantage but that’s not going to stop them from getting on the bus to Salem. In a one-game scenario, anything is possible, right?
All about the points
Scoring more points than your opponent wins the game, pretty simple right? VSU, all things considered, is better at scoring more points than its opponents which is why it remains unbeaten. The Trojans average 43 points per game this season, its opponents average 19 points per game, that’s a difference of three touchdowns and a field goal.
Fayetteville State might be the new Kings of the South but surprisingly they were outscored by their opponents by almost two points per game this year. The Broncos averaged 30.8 points per game to be precise, with opponents putting up 32.4.
The run game
Both teams have a big gun in its arsenal, Trent Cannon for the Trojans, and Stevie Green for the Broncos. Green at 111 yards per game rushing is in the conversation as one of the best running backs in the conference. That conversation, however, begins with, “who is one of the best running backs in the CIAA after Trent Cannon?” Cannon is averaging 154 yards per game which doesn’t take away from how amazing Green is with all due respect. But Cannon is the best in VSU history and he’s the best back in the CIAA this season. Your eyeballs tell you and the numbers confirm it.
VSU’s defense is pretty stout at stopping the run as well, it only allowed 816 yards rushing over the course of nine games. FSU has given up 2002 yards over the course of ten games, over 200 yards more than the Broncos rushed for as a team.
Fayetteville State played a few different hands at quarterback this season before ultimately settling on Richard Latimer. He has an efficiency rating of 108 and 153 passing yards per game, with the catch being that he’s played in just seven games starting in four of them. Latimer’s interception totals are higher than you’d like to see, nine interceptions in seven games.
— Mitch Carr (@mitchcarrtv) September 23, 2017
Cordelral Cook brings a whole different set of circumstances to the table. Cook has rushed for 749 yards on the season and thrown for 1353, a textbook example of a dual-threat quarterback. He averages 150 yards passing per game with an efficiency rating of 137.
The pass defense is mostly in the same neighborhood for both teams. VSU has given up 1,915 yards through the air in nine games, while FSU allowed opponents to throw for 2,282 yards in ten games.
Numbers don’t lie but they also don’t tell the entire story. Virginia State nearly lost to Chowan two weeks ago, a team that FSU beat earlier this season. Maybe that’s a six degrees of separation reach but the last two weeks for the Trojans have been anything but smooth sailing, despite the wins. FSU winning would be an upset, it would be shocking but it’s not impossible. If VSU allows its opponents to hang around in the fourth quarter for a third straight week, I do see a path of possibility for the Broncos. The kicking game.
— FSU Broncos (@FSUBroncos) November 5, 2017
VSU has only hit one field goal out of six tries all season long, compared to a 7-11 mark for Fayetteville State. David Lamb hit a huge 44-yard FG last week in the do or die game against Winston Salem State University along with a pressure cooker extra point to break a tie ballgame in the final seconds. Going back to St. Augustine’s he’s made his last three attempts.
Virginia State will have to earn its crown to complete an unbeaten season in the CIAA but the numbers definitely lean in its favor. All the more reason for FSU to whip up its famed “attitude check” heading into Saturday’s game.