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Samford Hoping to Emerge as Contender

By David England
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For the Bulldogs to contend in the SoCon, they must play their best football in the coming weeks.

Samford entered the SoCon in 2007 with a lot of aspirations in front of them. Head coach Pat Sullivan knew  that some serious work was ahead for what most consider to be the "SEC" of FCS football.

In has taken some time to adjust to a new, more competitive league, but early success in the 2012 season has people believing in the Bulldogs, and Samford has cracked the national polls at No. 25.

Our own editor, Matt Osborne, recently chatted with Samford co-offensive coordinator Travis Trickett to discuss the Bulldogs' season.

The season is still very young and Samford has a long way to go, but with a great defense and a powerful offense, the Bulldogs appear to have the right mix of talent to have a great season.

"Expect to be there...success is to be expected if you work hard and do what we're expected to do," said Trickett, whose Samford offense is currently averaging nearly 32 points per contest.

So far, Samford's hard work has paid off as they are 2-0 in conference play and 4-0 overall. The offense has been led by junior running back Fabian Truss, who last week proved why he is the leader of the offense with over 175 yards with two touchdowns against a conference opponent.

The hard work for the Bulldogs truly begins this week, however, with a game against No. 9 Georgia Southern, Samford will follow that contest up with games against The Citadel and Appalachian State at home. Afterwards, they have an away game in Chattanooga and another home matchup against Wofford. This is the toughest stretch of games for any team in the SoCon during that span.

"From top to bottom, there is no week off in this conference. You've got to bring your lunchpail to work everyday," Trickett said of the competitiveness in the SoCon.

The message of hard work rings true for Samford, and it shows in their play. The Bulldogs have three possible All-Conference players just on offense in Fabian Truss, Andy Summerlin, and Kelsey Pope. An impressive win over Furman to start the season proved that Samford was a good team, but three straight wins after that have the Bulldogs in playoff and conference championship discussions. The true test of the season comes this week, as Samford plays Georgia Southern in Statesboro with major conference implications on the line. A win this week will go a long way in proving that Samford is a real contender for the FCS playoffs.

The positive news for Samford is that they will know just how talented they are after this brutal stretch of games. To be the best, you must beat the best. While Samford is 4-0, they have yet to play a true FCS powerhouse team. According to Coach Trickett, they also have yet to play their best football. 

"We have not even come close to playing our best ball yet, and we've got so, so much to improve on. And the good thing about it is, though, our guys come up after wins, and a win isn't really just good enough now - they want to play up to their standard."

Samford's surprising start to the season has proven the depth of the conference. For the Bulldogs to contend in the SoCon, however, they must play their best football in the coming weeks.

David England - David is an avid football fan. Having covered football for seven years, he has worked with Coastal Carolina University Football, 93.9 ESPN Radio the Team, and various websites. Also a huge baseball fan, he has worked in minor league baseball for five years, with both the Myrtle Beach Pelicans and the Gwinnett Braves. David will be covering Georgia Tech and the Southern Conference.