If healthy enough to play in Saturday’s matchup at Kennesaw State, Campbell quarterback Daniel Smith’s arm and mobility could pose a unique challenge to the Owls’ young defense.
While on a two-game losing streak, Campbell (5-3, 0-2 Atlantic Sun Conference) has outscored opponents 232-175, averaging 29 points through eight games. However, the Camels have struggled over their past two games, both against conference opponents, as they were outscored 73-28 by Monmouth and Gardner-Webb.
Although both conference matchups ended in losses, Campbell proved its flexibility in the running and the passing games. In its 38-21 loss to Monmouth, Campbell stuck with the pass, putting up 333 passing yards of 387 total yards, but the Camels promoted the run game against Gardner-Webb, totaling 228 rushing yards of 395 total yards, in its 35-7 loss.
Much of the Camels’ success on offense this season has to do with the versatility of Smith.
Smith, who did not play in Saturday’s loss to Gardner-Webb because of an injury suffered against Monmouth, averages approximately 200 passing yards and 70 rushing yards this season. With a 58 percent completion percentage through seven games, Smith has thrown for 1,397 yards, 12 touchdowns and three interceptions this season and is the team’s lead rusher, totaling 495 yards and 10 touchdowns on the ground.
“They do some good things on offense, and they’re able to use him in different ways. … The kid’s a good player. When you look back, they’ve been able to score some points,” Kennesaw State coach Brian Bohannon said at his news conference Tuesday.
Backup quarterback Jayson DeMild started Saturday against Gardner-Webb in place of Smith and recorded 279 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions in the loss. DeMilk has played in five games this season and holds a 51.3 completion percentage, totaling 445 passing yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.
Even though Smith was injured for Campbell’s last game against Gardner-Webb, Bohnannon said he and he team are expecting the sophomore to be healthy for Saturday’s game.
Bohannon couldn’t think of an accurate comparison with Smith that the Owls have seen so far this season, but statistically, Smith is most similar to Samford quarterback Devlin Hodges, who Kennesaw State faced in late September.
In Kennesaw State’s 24-10 win over Samford — the Owls’ tightest FCS win of the season — Hodges was limited to 150 passing yards and a team-high of 45 rushing yards on 13 carries. Hodges, significantly less mobile than Campbell’s Smith, entered the matchup with Kennesaw State averaging 365.5 passing yards and 19 rushing yards.
This season, Kennesaw State (7-1, 3-0) has limited opponents to 12.1 points and conference opponents to an average of nine points. The Owls’ defense has also limited opponents to 114.4 rushing yards and 140 passing yards over their eight games.
Campbell is averaging 167.9 rushing yards and 230.3 passing yards entering Saturday’s game at Fifth Third Bank Stadium.
Kennesaw State and Campbell kick off at 2 p.m. Saturday and can be watched on ESPN-plus.