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Playmakers Take SoCon Center Stage

By BJ Bennett
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Offensively, it will be must-see in Cullowhee this Saturday.

In a key matchup in the Southern Conference this Saturday, a number of the nation's premier playmakers will be on display. Expect fireworks between Samford and Western Carolina, two teams home to dynamic offensive attacks. With key conference implications on the line, the league's top two passers and the leading rusher and receiver in the FCS are all set to exchange big plays. Offensively, it will be must-see in Cullowhee.           

Devlin Hodges is putting up huge numbers in Chris Hatcher's spread offense at Samford. After 4,088 passing yards and 36 touchdowns with a 71% completion rate a year ago, Hodges is fresh off 26-of-35 throws and two scores at SEC power Georgia. The top target for the most-productive signal caller in the conference, Kelvin McKnight, has the most receptions in the nation with 25 and is tied for the lead in receiving touchdowns with five. Hodges-to-McKnight is one of the top pass-catching tandems around.

Already a fixture in the SoCon record books as a runner and a return specialist, Western Carolina's Detrez Newsome is number one in the country in rushing yards with 461 yards. To date, he has more than twice as much ground production as every other league back but one. Quarterback Tyrie Adams slots second in the SoCon, trailing only Hodges, with 256 yards per game; both signal callers have nine scores. It's Adams who paces the league in pass efficiency, with a total of 180.5 that ranks fourth nationally.

While Samford led the SoCon with 35.1 points per game last season, Western Carolina is out in front this fall with 41; only four FCS teams have scored more touchdowns than the Catamounts to date.

Both 2-1 as league play begins, Samford and Western Carolina have sights set on the playoffs. The Bulldogs made the postseason a year ago, also in 2013. Though the Catamounts advanced to the 1983 Division II National Championship Game, they have not yet made the national tournament at the FCS level. Those goals in mind, this weekend will offer a springboard forward for the winner. 

A showcase of great talent and production is upcoming. As some SoCon shuffling is done, players with All-American potential will be on the move.

BJ Bennett - B.J. Bennett is's founder and publisher. He is the co-host of "Three & Out" with Kevin Thomas and Ben Troupe on the "Southern Pigskin Radio Network". Email: / Twitter: @BJBennettSports