JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – Carson-Newman (2-0, 0-0 SAC) opens up conference play with a Brevard (1-1, 0-0 SAC) club that has given the Eagles fits the past three years at 1 p.m. Saturday at Burke-Tarr Stadium.
"We are playing a very dangerous team," Carson-Newman head coach Ken Sparks said. "Think about what our defense has faced – a pro style team in Wayne State, a spread offense in Colorado Mines and now a flex bone offense at Brevard. They do an unbelievable job of generating ways to find your vulnerabilities. Plus they've finally got a quarterback who can throw it."
Sparks' warnings come in spite of Brevard's preseason ranking in the South Atlantic Conference poll. Every coach in the league, including the Tornados' Paul Hamilton, picked BC last.
But Brevard hasn't looked like a last place team through two weeks. The Tornados roll into Mossy Creek with a 69-0 win over College of Faith last week. The week prior, Brevard hung with FCS Presbyterian for three quarters – it was tied 21-21 shortly after halftime – before succumbing 42-24 after the Blue Hose posted 21 unanswered points.
Since a 77-7 drubbing at the hands of the Eagles in 2009, Carson-Newman hasn't beaten Brevard by more than 18 points. That includes last year's contest, where the Eagles and Tornados entered halftime tied at seven.
The 2010 SAC Freshman of the Year Kelvin Jeter returns to lead Brevard offensively. The senior slotback averages 111 yards per game on the ground – second in the SAC.
"They are never not going to play hard," Sparks said. "They've always given us a fit. We expect them to do that again because they've got so much team speed, which is just amazing."
Carson-Newman boasts a more opportunistic secondary from a year ago. The Eagles have already snatched four passes from opposing quarterbacks. Jarrett East-Brown, Jaycob Coleman, Eien Jacob and Greg Beauduy have all nabbed interceptions for the Eagles. The four picks put Carson-Newman in the top ten nationally for the statistic and a top the SAC standings for it.
The presence of a passing game may even come into play in the contest between two triple option teams. Brevard's Tanner Wright is 11-of-15 through the air for 216 yards and three scores. His 73.3 percent completion rate is third in the league.
Wright has taken care of the ball for the Tornados – BC has coughed it up twice on fumbles – while guiding an offense that is the least penalized in the nation. Over the past three seasons, Brevard has been flagged 97 times. In comparison, Carson-Newman was penalized 99 times last year alone.
The Eagles have picked up 94 yards a gain in penalties this year. That, and 11 fumbles through two games do have Sparks concerned.
"I'm not happy with where we are to be quite honest with you," Sparks said. "We have a lot of errors to correct and a lot of blocking and tackling to improve. We have to mature, but overall, we have a group of kids who wants to do that and will work like crazy to get it done."
Carson-Newman is 6-0 alltime against Brevard.
The Eagles and Tornados kick off at 1 p.m. from Burke-Tarr Stadium. The game can be found on the Eagle Sports Network on Joy 620 (WRJZ-AM, Knoxville), 106.3 ESPN Radio the Zone (WPFT-FM, Sevierville) and online at cneagles.com/live through the ESN's free high definition video stream.