Gardner-Webb is off to a 2-0 start and will invade Carter-Finley Stadium on Saturday looking for the upset. The Runnin’ Bulldogs boast wins over Mars Hill and Western Carolina and would like nothing more than to add a victory over an FBS opponent to their resume. Pack Pride takes an in-depth look at the Gardner-Webb football program.
Gardner-Webb National Statistical Rankings (FCS)
Runnin’ Bulldogs to Watch Saturday
QB Stan Doolittle...Veteran quarterback who was named Big South Conference Offensive Player of the Week for his clutch performance at WesternCarolina ... Career leader at GWU in completion percentage (.615) ... Has 3,434 career yards and 20 touchdowns ... Former All-State choice at Ninety Six (S.C.) High ... Offensive MVP of 2005 Shrine Bowl.
LB Marty Patterson....Athletic, rangy linebacker in his second season as a starter ... Has 94 career hits in 12 starts ... Named Big South Conference Defensive Player of the Week following the WCU win ... Leads the league with two sacks ... A second-team All-Big South Conference selection in 2008 (81 tackles) ... One of fi ve GWU linebackers with at least 12 starts.
AGAINST THE ACC
Gardner-Webb has played just one game against Atlantic Coast Conference competition in football, doing battle with eventual top-25 program and Chick-Fil-A Bowl participant Georgia Tech on October 11, 2008 in Atlanta. The Yellow Jackets prevailed, but not without a struggle, blocking a last-second fi eld goal attempt to beat Gardner-Webb 10-7. GWU limited the Jackets’ powerful option attack to a season-low 79 yards on the ground (47 carries, 1.68 ypr), and held 2008 ACC Player of the Year Jonathan Dwyer to 27 rushing yards on 16 carries (1.7 yards per rush).
Senior quarterback Stan Doolittle was at his best in a tough spot in the win over Western Carolina. With his Runnin’ Bulldogs just outside the WCU 20-yard line, and the game tied, 20-20 – Doolittle settled in to lead the offense on a 12-play, 79-yard touchdown drive that put GWU ahead for good. Doolittle completed 4-of-6 passes in the trek for 56 yards, and had three first-down tosses. Doolittle also scored the go-ahead touchdown on a one-yard quarterback sneak. The Ninety Six, S.C., native was named Big South Conference Offensive Player of the Week for his overall effort. Doolittle completed 23-of-40 passes for 265 yards and a score, and rushed 12 times for 30 yards and his game-winning TD. The 6-foot-3, 224-pounder accounted for 295 of Gardner-Webb’s 349 yards of total offense (84.5 percent).
RUSH “D” STRONG OF LATE
Gardner-Webb has now held nine of its last 13 opponents to less than 100 yards on the ground, and 12 of its last 16 opponents to less than 125 yards rushing – the most impressive streak of its kind since the program moved to Division I for the 2000 season. Last season, GWU held its fi rst six opponents to less than 100 yards on the ground – which included FBS member Georgia Tech (4th nationally in rushing). Tech’s 79 yards rushing during that Oct. 11 game was nearly 200 yards below the Jackets’ season average (274 ypg). The good news for 2009? GWU returns the bulk of that defensive talent.
-Gardner-Webb paced the Big South Conference with nine of its student-athletes named to this year’s preseason All-Conference team, which was voted on by the league’s head coaches and members of the media.
- Senior corner Cedric McGowan (Greer, S.C.), a two-time All-Big South selection, will redshirt in 2009.
- Gardner-Webb has seven redshirt seniors on its preseason roster, and 19 total seniors.
- A total of 24 players on the 2009 roster, including redshirt juniors, have at least four years of college experience.
- Gardner-Webb is off to a 2-0 start for the fi rst time since 2006, when it defeated Jacksonville (road) and Tennessee Tech (home).
- Gardner-Webb received one vote in this week’s FCS Coaches’ Poll, the fi rst time the Runnin’ Bulldogs have garnered votes in that poll since a top-25 fi nish following the 2002 season.
- Redshirt sophomore James Perry III had the most catches by a freshman last season (55) since future Hall of Famer William Andrews, Jr., hauled in 70 during the 2000 season.
- Dobson Collins, an honorable mention FCS All-America selection in 2008, was recently waived by the San Francisco 49ers, but was one of eight players signed to the 49ers’ practice squad on Sunday (Sept. 6).
- Gardner-Webb’s 11:30 am kickoff with Charleston Southern on October 17 (SportSouth) will mark the earliest start time for a home football game since the school moved to the Division I ranks.
- Gardner-Webb will take on a pair of FBS schools this season – NC State (Sept. 19) and Buffalo (Oct. 10).
FRESHMAN PERFORMING WELL UP FRONT
One of the toughest positions in football is being manned by a true freshman this season at Gardner-Webb. Lyman, S.C., native Jamie Dunaway (6-4, 280) has started the fi rst two games at left tackle for the Runnin’ Bulldogs and, despite his youth, has performed very well. The former Byrnes (S.C.) High standout has graded out above 82 percent in each of his starts, including an 84 percent grade at Western Carolina.
NOT TO BE FORGOTTEN
A forgotten man last season for Gardner-Webb defensively was two-time All-America selection Mario Brown (6-2, 240, Sr.), who was granted a medical redshirt after suffering an injury prior to the Bulldogs’ second game of the season. Brown, a native of Greenville, S.C., has returned to full speed since then – and earned preseason second-team All-America honors from the Sports Network in June. Brown was also named the league’s top defensive player by The Sporting News this preseason. Brown (12 hits), Marty Patterson (13 hits) and Jeffery Williams (10 hits) pace the GWU defense so far in 2009.
Highly-touted freshman defensive tackle Matthew Goods (6-2, 285) proved worthy of the expectations in his first college game, coming off the bench to earn Big South Conference Freshman of the Week honors against Mars Hill on September 5. The East Orange, N.J., native – who prepped at power Milford (N.Y.) Academy in 2008 – finished the game with six total tackles (three solo), 3.5 tackles for loss (minus-17 yards), two quarterback pressures, one sack and a batted down pass. Goods was rated the No. 7 postgraduate defensive line prospect in the nation last season by Rivals.com. Goods followed that up with another solid performance at Western Carolina, registering three hits, one sack and two quarterback pressures.
Gardner-Webb, which had a roster made up of 74 percent underclassmen (freshmen, sophomores) in 2007, has finally gotten some age on its two-deep. Of the 60 total slots on the team’s depth chart (offense, defense and special teams), 36 are manned by players in at least their third season in a senior college football program (60.0 percent).
SEASONED LINEBACKERS PACE DEFENSE
Gardner-Webb enters the 2009 season with one of the nation’s most experienced, and talented, groups of linebackers. Preseason All-America selections Jeffery Williams (6-0, 229, Jr.) and Mario Brown (6-2, 240, RSr.) anchor that unit, combining with veterans Marty Patterson (6-3, 215, Jr.), Oluwadamilola Teniola (5-11, 227, Jr.) and Quan Jackson (5-11, 203, Sr.) to start 87 career games between them. The quintet, with at least 12 career starts each, has now compiled 834 tackles, 78 tackles for loss and 22 sacks during their collective careers in Boiling Springs.
Redshirt junior receiver Jamal Patmon (Greenville, Ga.) had his best game to date at Western Carolina, hauling in six passes for a career-high 90 yards in the 27-20 win. Patmon, the tallest receiver on Gardner-Webb’s roster at a lengthy 6-foot-6, 205-pounds, had a key, 29-yard catch on the team’s game-winning drive in the fourth quarter. A former Division I basketball prospect, Patmon has nine catches for 120 yards and a touchdown through two games this season.
GATES TOPS 100
Ryan Gates’ leg has been productive since his arrival in Boiling Springs last August, and the All-America sophomore continued to build on his legacy in the season opener. The Newnan, Ga., native boomed all seven of his extra point attempts and connected on a perfect 3-of-3 field goals to score a Big South-record 16 points. That production earned Gates the league’s Special Teams Player of the Week award. Gates, who set a new GWU freshman mark with 75 points en route to All-Conference honors in 2008, reached the century mark for his career in scoring at Western Carolina, booting a pair of field goals and three extra points. Gates leads the Big South with 25 points scored so far in 2009.