Samford aims in 2016 to build on wins from last season

Samford aims in 2016 to build on wins from last season
Coach Chris Hatcher expects good things from the Samford Bulldogs this year coming off the team's fifth consecutive winning season. (Samford Athletics)

The Samford Bulldogs ended 2015 with three straight wins to notch their fifth straight winning season, a school record for consecutive seasons.

“I inherited a new team and we started out good,” coach Chris Hatcher said. “We had a lull in the middle of the season, but there late in the year we kind of came together and finished on a high note. We focused on that.”

Alabama NewsCenter is posing five questions to state college coaches as the 2016 football season draws near. Next up are Hatcher and his Bulldogs, who open their season at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 1, hosting Mars Hill in a game on ESPN3.

NC: What is the outlook for this season?

CH: I think it’s going to be good for us. We lost a lot of starters and we’re having to replace a lot of guys who played a lot of ball for us last year. But I feel really good about our defense. I think they’re playing extremely well. Offensively, we have some playmakers to go along with a talented quarterback in Devlin Hodges. If we can be more consistent catching the football, I think we have a chance to have a really good football team.

NC: What is your team’s strength?

CH: I would like to say that our line play is, offensive and defensive line. I think those guys will be the ones that carry us each and every week. As long as they play consistent, we’ll always have a chance to win.

NC: Who are your standouts this season?

CH: I would say (senior wide receiver) Karel Hamilton on offense. He’s the guy who’s got to have a big year in order for us to be successful on the offensive side of the ball. Devlin Hodges, our quarterback, he’s got to play well. He’s talented. He’s young. He’ll be a redshirt sophomore. Defensively, I would say (junior defensive lineman) Xavier Forrest and (junior defensive back) Omari Williams.

NC: What game do your fans have circled on your schedule?

CH: I would imagine our fans have the Chattanooga game circled, and The Citadel game. They finished the league first and second last year. Both of them represented our league in postseason playoffs, and to be the champ you’ve got to beat the champ. Both of them right now are riding pretty high.

NC: What is your lingering question?

CH: I think the biggest right now for us is twofold. Are we going to be a good tackling team on defense? Offensively, are we going to be able to catch the football consistently? Those are two things we must improve in dramatically before we head into our first game versus Mars Hill.

Also in this series: Read Alabama NewsCenter’s interviews with head coaches Reginald Ruffin of Miles College, Bobby Wallace of the University of North Alabama, Brett Gilliland of the University of West Alabama, Eddie Garfinkle of Birmingham-Southern College and Willie Slater of Tuskegee University.

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