Football notes - week one
Courtesy: Southern Conference
Release: 08/30/2017
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Mercer tight end Sam Walker
Courtesy: Mercer Athletics

Aug. 31 (Thursday)
Jacksonville at Mercer (ESPN3), 7 p.m.
Kennesaw State at Samford (CFDS/ESPN3), 7 p.m.

Sept. 2 (Saturday)
VMI at Air Force (ESPN3), 12 p.m.
Newberry at The Citadel (CFDS/ESPN3), 6 p.m.
*Furman at Wofford (ESPN3), 6 p.m.
Limestone at ETSU (ESPN3), 7 p.m.

Sept. 3 (Sunday)
Western Carolina at Hawai'i (Charter Spectrum PPV/MWC mobile app), 12 a.m.

College Football Down South (CFDS) affiliates:

Kennesaw State at Samford (Thursday, Aug. 31)
WPCH Atlanta, Ga.
WBMM Montgomery, Ala., CW
WFNA Mobile, Ala., CW
WHKY Charlotte, N.C.
Cox Cable sports Macon, Ga.
Cox Cable Norfolk, Va., local channel
Cox Cable Roanoke, Va., local channel
WCIV Charleston, S.C.
KPMF-LD 26.7 Memphis, Tenn.

Newberry at The Citadel (Saturday, Sept. 2)
WCIV Charleston, S.C.
WYFF Greenville, S.C.
WITN Greenville, N.C.
WILM Wilmington, N.C.
WDWW Atlanta, Ga.
WHKY Charlotte, N.C.
Cox Cable Roanoke, Va.
Cox Cable Norfolk, Va.
WFXB Myrtle Beach, S.C.
KPMF Memphis, Tenn.


• The 2017 season marks the SoCon's 96th year of football.

• Chattanooga played on the national stage to get the season underway, as the Mocs fell 27-13 to No. 5 Jacksonville State in the Guardian Credit Union FCS Kickoff in Montgomery, Alabama, on Saturday on ESPN. UTC quarterback Nick Tiano, making his first start for his hometown team after transferring this spring from Mississippi State, accumulated 286 yards of total offense.

• Two Thursday games kick off this week's slate, with Mercer and Samford hosting home contests. Rivals Furman and Wofford meet Saturday to begin league play, while ETSU hosts Limestone to open newly named William B. Greene Jr. Stadium.

• For the first time in its history, Wofford was the preseason choice to win the Southern Conference title, by both the league's coaches and media. The Terriers' previous best predicted finish was second, where they were picked by both organizations in 2004, by just the coaches in 2009 and by just the media in 2012 and 2013.

• Full polls and the coaches' preseason all-conference teams can be found on page 2 of these notes. Chattanooga led the league with 10 preseason all-conference picks.

• The Citadel enters the season seeking its third straight SoCon crown. The 2015 and 2016 titles marked the first time the Bulldogs had won the SoCon in consecutive years.

• The SoCon is the only conference in college football that will take on both the reigning FCS and FBS national champions this season. ETSU will square off against defending FCS champion James Madison on Sept. 9, while The Citadel will face Clemson on Nov. 18.

• Four league teams are nationally ranked in the preseason, with Wofford leading the way at No. 11 in both the FCS Coaches Poll and the STATS FCS Top 25. The Citadel is 12th in the coaches' poll and 16th in the STATS rankings, while Chattanooga is 13th/12th and Samford is 19th in both polls. Mercer received votes in both polls, while ETSU earned votes in the STATS rankings.

• Samford redshirt junior quarterback Devlin Hodges and Western Carolina senior all-purpose running back Detrez Newsome were among the 22 players listed on the preseason watch list for the 2017 STATS FCS Walter Payton Award for the outstanding offensive player of the year, while The Citadel's senior safety Kalik Williams has been named to the preseason watch list for the STATS FCS Buck Buchanan Award, which honors the outstanding defensive player of the year.

• Two league coaches are making their team debuts this season. Tom Arth came to Chattanooga after an outstanding four-year run at his alma mater, John Carroll, in which he went 40-8 and was named the 2016 NCAA Division III National Coach of the Year. Furman's Clay Hendrix returns to his alma mater and assumes his first head coaching job after a 10-year tenure at Air Force following a 19-year stay as an assistant for the Paladins.