Faulkner University

EAGLE NOTES: Boren leads Eagles into his second season at the helm

Contributed by admin on Aug 21, 2015 - 05:27 PM

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MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Faulkner head football coach Charlie Boren, entering his second season at the helm of the program, is admittedly a bit more comfortable in his skin. His Eagles were ranked No. 10 in the NAIA pre-season poll released this week, and he realizes such a lofty ranking brings with it equally high expectations.

Faulkner has won the Mid-South Conference West Division title each of the past two seasons, earning playoff berths both years. Finishing 9-3 in 2013 and 2014, coupled with visits to the post-season, have altered the goals for a program that struggled to take flight in its early years. Entering its ninth year of intercollegiate competition, Faulkner looks to take the next step, according to its head man.

"Four years ago nobody really knew about us," said Boren, whose team has completed workouts in shorts and helmets and will begin practicing in full pads Wednesday afternoon. The success we've had the past two seasons, as well as our first winning season three years ago, have raised the level of awareness of our program.  We've been tickled to make the playoffs the past two seasons, but the feeling around here is that's not good enough now.

"We want to earn our way back there this season, and if we don't have success once there in some ways we'd all be disappointed. We want players in this program who feel that way – who set the bar high and work hard to get there."

For Faulkner, who will be starting a new quarterback for the third straight season, there is a feel of confidence in fall camp, according to Boren. Battling for the job are a trio of talented players - senior David Cochran, who finished the2014 season as the starter after an injury to All-MSC performer Terrell Robinson, sophomore Lane Moss and redshirt freshman Clayton Nicholas, who transferred in from Bowling Green University.

Whoever earns the starting role will be playing behind what could be the Eagles' best offensive line in the program's history. Back are starters Raymond BusbyJacob CarterElliott Graves and B.J. Turner, and add to that group a pair of Jacksonville State transfers in Caleb Gulledge and Tristan Hardin and there's reason for optimism up front.

"We feel like both lines of scrimmage could be our strength, if we can stay away from the injury bug," Boren said. "I know our quarterbacks and our running backs are pleased with the guys at the point of attack."

Joe Jones, the MSC's offensive freshman of the year in 2014, returns at running back after posting 711 yards and 11 touchdowns last season. Boren says the Buford, Ga., native from North Gwinnett High School has trimmed down a bit and added muscle in the off-season, both of which he says will benefit him this fall. Backup tailback Trent Miles also returns for the Eagles.

"Anytime you get that year under your belt and kind of know what to expect it's huge, and that's where Joe is right now," Boren said. "He's worked hard since spring, and we look for big, big things from him this season. I think he feels really good about the guys he's going to be running behind too. We have depth up there, which means we'll be able to keep guys fresh and that should benefit Joe and Trent in the ground game."

Jones not only looks different, he says he feels different – physically and from a leadership standpoint.

"I feel really good this year, totally different than I did coming in as a freshman," Jones said. "I know that even though I'm just a sophomore, I'll need to help some of the younger players get acclimated, just like others did that for me last year. Over the summer I got my mind right and I'm in the best shape of my life and I'm faster, so I'm excited what this season could bring for us. I think it could be a very good year. I'm very excited about our line, and I feel the holes are going to be there for all of our running backs."

As far as team expectations, Jones agrees with his coach. Making the playoffs is one of the goals, but it's not the ultimate goal.

"We expect a lot from this team," he said. "We're working as hard as we possibly can, so we can be in position to take that next step nationally."

Faulkner opens its season in Lakeland, Fla., on Sept. 5 against Southeastern University. The game against the Fire is scheduled for a 6 p.m. central time start.