Sept. 15, 2004
Rams vs. Panthers...The matchup between the Rams and Panthers marks the fourth game of the 2004 season for both teams. The two teams both enter the contest following a loss as WSSU fell in defeat to visiting #23 Tusculum College by the score of 37-20 and Virginia Union fell in a shocker to Livingstone College by the score of 29-22. Both teams enter the contest looking for their first win of the season as they both hold 0-3 records. The Rams have yet to play a conference game, however the Panthers are 0-1 in the CIAA after last weekend's league-loss to the Blue Bears.
The Series...The Rams and Panthers have met 37 times prior to Saturday's matchup. The Panthers own the series edge as the Rams are 16-20-1 all-time versus Virginia Union. However, WSSU Head Football Coach Kermit Blount has posted a 9-4 record versus the Panthers since taking over the WSSU program in 1993.
Fun Facts and Numbers... WSSU's record versus the Panthers all time is 16-20-1...Largest WSSU win - 43 (43-0 in 1995)...Largest Virginia Union win - 33 (40-7 in 1983)...Longest WSSU win streak - 10 games (1990-2000)...Longest Virginia Union win streak - 6 (two times; most recently 1981-1986)...The two teams have met in the CIAA Championship title game three times with the Rams emerging victorious twice (in 1990 and 2000) and the Panthers earning the win once (2001).
TV Coverage...The game will be broadcast live and on-demand on SportsViewTV on a pay-per-view basis. For more information, log on to SportsViewTV.com or contact the WSSU Office of Sports Information at (336) 750-2143.
Radio Coverage...This weekend's contest will be available to listeners in the greater Winston-Salem area on WSNC, FM 90.5 with George Croom, Al Roseboro, Ted Fichiolas and Sam Harley calling all the action as well as nationally on the internet at www.wssu.edu by clicking on the link: "Listen to WSNC."
Live Statistical Broadcast Online...Can't make it to the game, but want to keep tabs on what the Rams are doing as it happens? Then log on to the official live statistical broadcast of the game on GAMETRACKER. The contest between the Rams and the Panthers will mark the third game that takes advantage of the Rams' enhanced partnership with College Sports Online as WSSU became the 72nd (out of 102 current partners) NCAA member school to use the GAMETRACKER software that enables a live statistical broadcast of the entire game to be seen on the World Wide Web. To access the GAMETRACKER software, fans may visit the Official Website of WSSU Athletics at www.wssurams.com accessing the football schedule page and clicking on the GAMETRACKER link to view the action.
Streaks...As he is sidelined with an injury, Josh McGee's string of 29 consecutive starts will be broken when Monte Purvis gets the start on Saturday.
Never Nervous, Monte Purvis...Monte Purvis, who will make his first career start as a Ram on Saturday is no stranger to being the go-to guy as a starting quarterback. Purvis was a four-year starter and North Carolina state champion in high school that was a combined 38-13 as a starter at Parkland High School, including a 15-1 record his junior year (2001) when he defeated Shelby Crest in the North Carolina State High School Championship game (by the score of 27-21).
Rankings...After losing to the sixth-ranked Eagles of Carson-Newman College in the first week of the season, the Rams are no longer receiving votes in any of the national polls, yet are ranked 77th in the Massey Division II power polls...The Panthers are not ranked in any of the major polls, and enter the game at 0-3.
Strength Of Schedule...According to the Massey Division II power rankings, the Rams have the 8th most difficult schedule in NCAA Division II in 2004 with all of their first three opponents being ranked in at least one national poll and receiving votes in at least one other. The Rams lost to 6th ranked Carson-Newman, lost to 32nd ranked FVSU on Saturday, September 4th by the score of 21-19 and fell to #23 Tusculum College this past weekend on September 11th, 2004 at Bowman-Gray Stadium by the score of 37-20.
WSSU Center, Brian Scott:
What are you looking for this weekend, what do you expect?
"We are really looking forward to getting our first "W" of the season as it is time for conference play. We have a lot to prove to our fans and ourselves and we want to come out with the win and get things rolling."
What we you guys worked on as a team this week?
"We have really concentrated on coming in as a team. Team first, with everyone carrying their own weight. We have been tying up loose ends before conference play in order to truly get ready."
WSSU Quarterback Monte Purvis:
Monte, you are getting your first start, what are your thoughts? "Mainly I am concentrating on playing relaxed, and playing like I normally play. Getting the start is nothing new to me [38-13 as a starter in high school], and I have a great team around me. So we should be just fine."
Having Jed Bines [a high school teammate] behind you in the running attack, is that a comfort?
"Yes, I know where he is going and doing, and he knows what I am going to do and where I am going. We have great communication and I feel very comfortable handing him the ball."
What else do you think you will need to do?
"What else, well I have to communicate more, with my receivers, and pay attention to their routes. We have had a lot of energy at practice this week and all that, and we are ready for Saturday. We need to focus and play our game, and the rest will take care of itself."
Defensive Back Gabe Dennis
Gabe, talk about the defense. What do you have to work on?
"Our main focus was to pick up our intensity this week. We have been focused and ready the other games, but we had to pick up our intensity. Coach always says a silent defense is a flat defense, and we needed to pick it up and we are doing that. That was what we needed to do, and we needed to continue to work on our system and work on staying with our assignments, and we are doing that."
What else have you guys, as a defense been doing?
"What else, well we have been watching tape and doing our homework on them, and we feel that we will be prepared, but we know that they will be prepared as well, and it should be a good game to watch, and we need to come out with a win."
Elaborate on how entering into conference play is making this even more important.
"This is our whole focus. The first three games were preparation for the conference, and we think it helped. It is conference time, with one goal, the CIAA championship in mind.
Did you guys take [last weekend's opponent} Tusculum for granted? Did you take them lighty?
"We didn't take them lightly, and they were nationally ranked, and so we would never take ANYONE lightly, whether they are ranked or not. But communication-wise, I feel that we were lacking. We need to pick that up, and that should help us against Virginia Union."
VUU does not mind throwing the ball, that is a known fact. Do you, Gabe, go in with a different mindset?
"No, they are a balanced team and can do everything, so we are ready for the running game and the passing game. We need to focus on our keys, and our assignments and everything will take care of itself on Saturday. But it will not be easy. We need to play better than we have been, and it is for real now, the conference play."
"In my perspective from a fans point of view, they should look at it like it's no so much the win loss column, although we all like to win. It is more about the student athlete. It is about teaching them, and giving them the kind of support and the leadership that they need. It is certainly more about just wins and losses, these guys learn so much from football about life. Life is not always, like football, going to be a win. There are going to be losses in life, and if they can accept it, and deal with it, and get better at it through this transition, I feel that they will be better off when they get out of here."
WSSU Head Football Coach, Kermit Blount
"You have to come in with a good pace coming into a game, rather than trying to play catch up,. There wont be a huge difference to me though. We just play as a team, and go from there."
Is the team confident in you like they were Josh?
"Sure. We run the same plays and same offense with me as when Josh does. So there should be no difference, and will be no difference."
Does your speed help the team out, as you are a little quicker than Josh?
"It is a little bit of a difference. I think it can help and hurt us. I have to watch what I do, and work within the system, and everything will be just fine."
Head Coach Kermit Blount:
Facing someone who was formerly on your staff, someone that you are familiar with, does he know you better? Do you know him better? Does it add extra fuel to the fire?
"No, I don't think that it does. When we look at it, we look at it as a profession, and certainly he is going to have his guys ready to play. And based on him being here previously, it may give him incentive coming in, and I'm sure there is a little fire for our guys to show him coming in what kind of talent some of these guys that he used to coach, really have. So it should be interesting on Saturday, and we are both looking to come out of a slump, and would love to come out of a slump versus one another, but I think that if we do what we should, we will prevail."
Getting the first win, and first conference win would be big. How big of a combination would it be to get both of those at once?
"When we look back at things, we feel that we should be 2-1 at worst. We played well in some spots, versus the opponents that we had, and those were three very good football teams. We felt at that point still, we should be 2-1, but in reality, at the same time, we were 0-3. This is our first conference game, and we have to be well-oiled, and at this point, we feel that we are. We have had a different kind of intensity in practice this week. I think that our guys understand what we have to do in order to get where we want to go.
Talk about the difference between Monte and Josh. How does the offense adjust to having that different guy, with a different style, back there under center.
"Well, I don't think that it is so much of an adjustment. What happens is, that Monte makes a different style of play than Josh, but I think that it takes care of itself. We may add one or two things in particular to take advantage of Monte's skills, and especially, his speed. I mean, we have to keep our regular offense in place. And I think that he will be able to make some plays that Josh might not ordinarily be able to make with his running ability. I think that Josh has learned some things from Monte and we definitely know that Monte has learned a great deal from Josh. We are confident in whatever quarterback that is back there."
What do you think the changes may be with Monte?
"We wont change our game plan. What we want is for Monte to let the game come to him. Every play is not going to be a big play. It is the same thing that we teach on defense, every tackle is not going to be a big hit. We just want to make sure that we get the job done."
And your thoughts on the tradition and the history of playing VUU. "We know that whenever we play Virginia Union we can throw the records out the window. We know that they will be prepared and ready to play. We need to adopt the mentality that we are not 0-3. The other part of it, that I told our team, and I look at strength of schedule, there is a reason that we scheduled those three teams up front and now we know where our weaknesses are, and what we have to work on, and I doubt that we will see the kind of talent that we saw the first three weeks for the remainder of the season. But everyone will be ready for us, we need to be ready for them. We will get the talent from a Virginia Union, a Fayetteville State, a Bowie State, but again, I don't think that they have lined down and played against the kind of competition that we have for the first three weeks of the season."
What would you say to our fans if you got the chance, in addressing the fact that we are much better than our 0-3 record may indicate?
"In my perspective from a fans point of view, they should look at it like it's no so much the win loss column, although we all like to win. It is more about the student athlete. It is about teaching them, and giving them the kind of support and the leadership that they need. It is certainly more about just wins and losses, these guys learn so much from football about life. Life is not always, like football, going to be a win. There are going to be losses in life, and if they can accept it, and deal with it, and get better at it through this transition, I feel that they will be better off when they get out of here.
WSSU takes on Virginia Union in Bowman-Gray Stadium on Saturday, September 18th, 2004 at 1:30 pm as the Rams open up CIAA league play.