Earning a trip to the playoffs is becoming the new normal for a Fordham football program that just three seasons ago finished a dismal 1-10. The 15th-ranked Rams open the FCS Playoffs for a third consecutive season on Saturday, heading south to take on No. 8 Chattanooga.
Although postseason play is commonplace under fourth-year head coach Jim Moorhead, his team’s upcoming challenge is unique.
“The two biggest differences between this season and years past is our youth and inexperience,” Moorhead said. “We have a lot of first-year starters and freshmen playing.”
On top of their lack of experience, Fordham (9-2) will also be tasked with playing on the road against the formidable Mocs (8-3) a long way from Coffey Field, where Fordham has hosted and won its opening-round playoff games the past two years. Despite the change in routine, Moorhead has remained consistent with his practice regimen.
“Our approach is the same but we understand that our preparation is of the utmost importance,” Moorhead said. “It will be important to simulate gamelike repetitions in practice.”
Moorhead’s scout team will have the responsibility of replicating Chattanooga’s potent offense. It is a unit that features two 1,000-yard rushers, three-time Southern Conference Offensive Player of the Year quarterback Jacob Huesman and running back Derrick Craine.
Similar to their experience in 2013, the Rams were forced to sweat out the selection show last weekend after failing to defend their crown as Patriot League champions. One conference loss to Colgate, 31-29, proved to be the difference, but the Rams still ended the season as the league’s top ranked team.
“We’ll give credit to Colgate, and it certainly still stings,” running back Chase Edmonds said, “but we’ll just use it as more motivation heading into the game [Saturday].”
Last year’s Jerry Rice Award winner as FCS’ top freshman, Edmonds will be relied on heavily come Saturday. The nation’s third-leading rusher (1,643) and 2015 Patriot League Offensive Player of the Year welcomes the opportunity but knows it will take a team effort to come away victorious.
“The best players win, and I pride myself on that,” Edmonds said. “The urgency level is there, and we know we can’t make the little mistakes if we want to win games like these.”