Will you be at the game?
As of right now, I will not be attending.
Very little is known about Gardner-Webb. Can you give us some brief details regarding what the Bulldogs can bring to the table? What type of success has your team had in FCS football?
Gardner-Webb University is a private liberal arts college located about 90 minutes southwest of Charlotte, NC. The school was founded in extremely rural Boiling Springs, NC because North Carolina Baptists had a theory that rural locations kept students from getting into trouble. In the late 1990's an announcement was made that the Runnin' Bulldogs (not to be confused with the cesspool of the south) were making the move to Division I athletics. For many it seemed like such a move was merely a pipe dream, but the "powers that were" wanted to see Gardner-Webb's name flashed on the bottom of the ESPN ticker, and so here we are today, a real life Division 1 program.
Gardner-Webb head coach Steve Patton, has had a descent career here at Gardner-Webb. He took over the program when it was D2 and performed admirably during the transition. His record at Gardner-Webb is currently at 74 wins and 50 losses. He led Gardner-Webb to back to back Big South titles in 2002 and 2003. Since that time the Bulldogs have alternated between 6-5 and 5-6 seasons. Steve Patton's head coaching stops have been at Mars Hill, North Greenville, and believe it or not the Charlotte Rage of the Arena Football league.
Gardner-Webb runs a spread attack very similar to Clemson. So far this year the coaching staff has made a conscious decision to run the ball more with modest success. The Bulldogs likes to rotate backs fairly often with Patrick Hall and Phillip Peoples getting most of the carries. Dobson Collins is a fast wide receiver who passed 1000 careers yards against Charleston Southern last week. At Quarterback look for Stan Doolittle to start, but I would not be surprised if Devin Campbell get some snaps as well.
On defense Gardner-Webb has done pretty well defending the run, but they have not had to face a Paul Johnson type offense this year. All American candidate Mario Brown has been sidelined for the past couple of games with a leg injury. Linebacker Jeffrey Williams has been the best player on Defense so far.
Many Georgia Tech fans are frustrated with Army backing out at the last minute forcing us to scramble to find another game. What was your experience and thought process when it was announced that Gardner-Webb would be playing us in Atlanta?
In general, I like the idea of money games. Gardner-Webb plays in a stadium that can spaciously accommodate around 9000 spectators. So you can imagine what a game against Georgia Tech can do for an athletic budget. (After last years games against Ohio and Mississippi State the school was able to afford a new inflatable helmet for the team to run through!) I am also happy for the players who get to play in front of a major college crowd. Coach Patton has done a pretty good job recruiting the state of Georgia so I am sure those guys are excited about playing in Atlanta. Also scheduling a game against a Georgia Tech sends a message to recruits that if you come to Gardner-Webb you will have an opportunity compete against some very good schools. So in moderation, money games are a good thing for schools like Gardner-Webb. However, I do not believe that scheduling two money games in a year is good for any FCS program. One money game a year is awesome, scheduling two is akin to prostitution, and if you schedule three you might as well call yourselves the Washington Generals.
If there is one player on either side of the ball that we need to be on the look out for, who is that person?
Tyson Petty was a highly sought after wide receiver from Gaffney SC before he injured his leg during his senior year in high school. Most folks around the South Carolina football scene were very surprised that a player like Tyson would choose Gardner-Webb. So far Petty has been a solid player, but I keep waiting for Tyson to step up and be the player everyone believes he is. Georgia Tech could be that motivation, but who knows.