Football stats often can be bent to tell different sides of a story, but when those stats center around trying to defeat Furman University, they spell out a clear formula.
Seeing it and doing it, as University of Tennessee at Chattanooga coach Rusty Wright and his staff know, are two completely different things.
To beat the 13th-ranked Paladins (5-3, 4-1 Southern Conference), a team must find success running the ball and find a way to stop it on the other end.
"Furman is a well-rounded football team that does everything well," said Wright, whose Mocs (4-4, 3-1) welcome the Paladins to Finley Stadium on Saturday for a 2 p.m. kickoff. "They are very sound defensively and they are deep, which allows them to stay fresh. Offensively, they can put up a bunch of points and games can get away from you quickly."
Furman's lone conference loss, 27-10 to The Citadel on Oct. 19, shows the perfect blueprint. The Bulldogs, one of the top running teams in the country at the FCS level, rushed for 360 yards on a whopping 61 attempts.
Just as important, they ate up 35 minutes of game clock and limited the Paladins to 172 rushing yards, more than 100 under their average. In doing so, they forced quarterback Darren Grainger to try to beat them through the air, but on a rainy Saturday he managed to complete just five of 25 passes.
On the other hand, Western Carolina and Samford, in 28-7 and 58-14 losses to Furman, managed to combine for just 200 rushing yards while giving up more than 750.
In last year's 16-10 loss to the Paladins, the Mocs managed only 86 yards on the ground in 23 attempts.
Linemen enjoy Ford
UTC freshman running back Ailym Ford is coming off his fifth 100-yard rushing game of the season, four coming in succession, and his 111.6 yards per game lead all FCS freshmen.
As Ford closes in on becoming the 13th UTC running back to eclipse 1,000 yards in a season and setting numerous program freshman records, his teammates continue to marvel at him.
Asked if anything Ford does surprises him anymore, offensive lineman McClendon Curtis just smiled.
"I'm not amazed, but he does it every week," he said. "You give him a little hole and he makes a guy miss. You don't mind blocking for a guy who does it right on and off the field."
Ford was one carry short of reaching 30 for the fourth consecutive game. Wright noted that, during a game, you would never tell if the workload was affecting him.
"Ailym is the same kid on carry one as he is carry 29," Wright said. "If I told him we're going to give it to you 50 times today he would have said, 'OK, Coach, let's see what we can do.'"
The UTC special teams have made their share of mistakes this season, but senior Colin Brewer is more than holding his own.
He leads the SoCon with a 44.1 average on 23 punts. He has punts of 56 yards in each of the past two games, and he and Gabe Boring, who is used on short-field punts, have combined to allow only five returns all season.