Bulldogs Look to Get Better

Despite being 2-0 after the Southern Conference writers and coaches had Samford slotted for the cellar in the preseason, head coach Pat Sullivan isn't all that concerned with wins and losses – at least not yet.

Sullivan's goal is to build a program, and that requires steady progression, so even though the Bulldogs will have better days than others on the scoreboard, the intensity and effort better steadily increase.

Everything else will work itself out.

"I think we have gotten better," Sullivan, a former Heisman winner from Auburn, said. "Obviously, this week will be our biggest test by far. What we have to do is just keep playing our game and work to get better, and that will be our goal."

The Bulldogs, who boast wins over West Georgia (21-19) and NAIA member Faulkner (62-0), won three of their first four last season before finishing 4-7 and switching over to the Southern Conference from the Ohio Valley. Conference foes now include FCS heavyweights Appalachian State and Georgia Southern.

"It is a great conference, and one where you have to be prepared week in and week out," Sullivan said. "Letdowns can't happen, and that is why our effort and improvement are so important."

Sullivan has instituted a pro-style offense that centers around running the football. After two games, the Bulldogs are averaging 295.5 yards per game on the ground while holding opponents to 17 yards rushing per contest. Samford has given up just three first downs running the ball.

Redshirt sophomore Chris Evans leads the Bulldogs with an average of 123 yards rushing and has punched it in the end zone on four occasions. Marcus Rice is second with 43 yards per game.

Passing has been limited for Samford, but the task will fall on freshman Dustin Taliaferro. The six-foot-three, 215-pound newcomer is 14-of-26 for 179 yards and a pair of both touchdowns and interceptions.

Oxford native and back-up QB Matt Malouf is 11-of-14 for 107 yards and a pick.

Thanks to the thrashing of Faulkner, the Bulldog defense is allowing fewer than 10 points per game. Linebacker Rodney Shepherd is the unquestioned leader of the Samford defense. Shepherd finished last season with a team-high 88 tackles and has 11 through two games with three TFLs and a sack.

The Bulldogs haven't attempted a field goal this season.

"As far as our plan, we are treating this like any other game," Sullivan said. "We are going to go over there and try to play to the best of our ability, and play smart and aggressive. If we can do that, then we will live with the results. But, the thing we have to do is go over there and play our game."

The two teams have split two games all-time. Ole Miss won, 26-6, in 1932, and then Howard College took the 1934 contest, 7-6.

Samford last played an SEC team in 1993 (Auburn).

The Bulldogs last game against a FBS team was Georgia Tech in 2007 (L, 69-14.)

OM Spirit Top Stories