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In the FCS Huddle: 2013 Patriot League Preview
By Craig Haley, FCS Executive Director/Senior Editor
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Colgate's football team literally ran off and hid from the competition last season.
With the "Mac Attack" - quarterback Gavin McCarney and running back Jordan McCord, who combined for 3,114 yards and 46 touchdowns on the ground - it was easy for the Raiders to post some lopsided scores and win the Patriot League championship.
But the rest of the league wasn't playing that same game, and with Colgate and fellow Patriot power Lehigh suffering big losses to graduation, the league race should tighten this year.
Bucknell, Georgetown and Fordham (which remains ineligible for the league title this season) each played seven games last season (out of 11) that were decided by seven or fewer points. Holy Cross played six games decided by a touchdown or less. Rivals Lafayette and Lehigh played five such games each, and the difference for Lehigh was it won its five.
With the addition of scholarship classes for the first time this season, Patriot games may even tighten some more. Georgetown is the lone holdout, but the Hoyas have raised their program in recent seasons.
The schools can't redshirt freshmen, so expect to see many of them in two- deeps as the coaches will play the best players, regardless of age.
Following is a team-by-team breakdown of the 2013 Patriot League race.
The Sports Network's predicted order of finish:
3. Holy Cross
Fordham (ineligible for league championship)
1. COLGATE RAIDERS
LOCATION: Hamilton, N.Y.
COACH: Dick Biddle (133-65 in 17 seasons at Colgate)
LAST SEASON: 8-4 overall, 5-0 Patriot; No. 25 TSN Ranking
STARTERS RETURNING: 13 (6 offense/7 defense)
OFFENSIVE STAR: QB Gavin McCarney, Sr. (159-of-256, 2,372 yards, 15 TD, 8 INT; 193 carries, 1,406 yards, 23 TD)
DEFENSIVE STAR: CB Mike Armiento, Jr. (55 TT, 4 INT, 10 PBU)
OTHER KEY PLAYERS: FB Ed Pavalko, Jr.
TB John Wilkins, So.
TB Demetrius Russell, So.
WR Dan Cason, Sr. (32 receptions, 512 yards)
WR/PR Ryne Morrison, Sr. (29 receptions, 425 yards, 2 TD)
WR/KR Jimmy DeCicco, Jr.
TE C.J. Stempeck, Jr.
OT Zac Sawin, So.
OT Scott Haraczy, So.
OG Andrew Scarmardo, Sr.
OG Brendan Walsh, Sr.
DE Andrew Nairin, Sr. (23 TT, 5.5 TFL, 3 sacks, 5 QBH)
DE Bobby Stup, Sr.
DT Anto Almasian, Jr.
DT Mike Watts, Sr.
ILB Vinny Russo, Jr.
OLB Kris Kent, Jr. (83 TT, 8 TFL, 4 sacks, 1 INT, 3 PBU)
OLB Eddy Sihavong, Sr.
CB/KR Wendell Lewis, Sr. (41 TT, 2 TFL, 1 INT, 4 PBU, 1 FF)
SS Demitri Diamond, Sr.
PK Andy Burgess, Sr.
BIG LOSS: TB Jordan McCord (323 carries, 1,708 yards, 23 TD)
2012 TEAM RANKINGS: Rushing Offense, 284.50 (5 in FCS, 1 in Patriot); Passing Offense, 201.92 (66 in FCS, 5 in Patriot); Total Offense, 486.42 (4 in FCS, 1 in Patriot); Scoring Offense, 39.42 (3 in FCS, 1 in Patriot); Rushing Defense, 203.67 (103 in FCS, 7 in Patriot); Passing Defense, 211.08 (55 in FCS, 2 in Patriot); Total Defense, 414.75 (91 in FCS, 5 in Patriot); Scoring Defense, 31.67 (94 in FCS, 7 in Patriot)
OUTLOOK: The defending Patriot League champions return one of the best quarterbacks in the FCS as McCarney ranked ninth nationally in total offense (314.8 ypg) and was the fifth-place finisher in the Walter Payton Award voting as a junior. He will be dominant again, but he's hurt by the loss of McCord, who kept some of the focus off McCarney. The 5-foot-11, 225-pound Wilkins could have a breakout season as he tries to replace McCord at tailback. The keys for Biddle's team are replacing three starting offensive linemen and improving the defense, which surrendered nearly 32 points a game and relied on the offense to put up lots of points. The defense has even brought two likely starters over from offense, DE Stup and LB Shiavong. The defense has plenty of upperclassmen, so the results should be improved. Biddle is 78-24 against Patriot opponents and the Raiders benefit by playing fellow league power Lehigh at home. They deserve to be the league favorite.
Aug. 31 - at Air Force
Sept. 7 - vs. Albany
Sept. 14 - at New Hampshire
Sept. 21 - vs. Yale
Oct. 5 - at Cornell
Oct. 12 - vs. Stony Brook
Oct. 19 - at Holy Cross
Oct. 26 - at Georgetown
Nov. 2 - vs. Bucknell
Nov. 9 - at Lafayette
Nov. 16 - vs. Lehigh
Nov. 23 - vs. Fordham
2. LEHIGH MOUNTAIN HAWKS
LOCATION: Bethlehem, Pa.
COACH: Andy Coen (51-30 in seven seasons at Lehigh)
LAST SEASON: 10-1 overall, 4-1 Patriot
STARTERS RETURNING: 8 (5 offense/3 defense)
OFFENSIVE STAR: WR Lee Kurfis, Sr. (50 receptions, 778 yards, 5 TD)
DEFENSIVE STAR: OLB Nigel Muhammad, Sr. (76 TT, 10.5 TFl, 5.5 sacks, 2 PBU, 1 FF)
OTHER KEY PLAYERS: QB Brandon Bialkowski, Sr.
RB Keith Sherman, Sr. (70 carries, 256 yards, 7 TD)
FB Zach Hayden, Sr.
WR Sergio Fernandez-Soto, Sr. (33 receptions, 370 yards, 1 TD)
TE Tyler Coyle, Jr.
LT Ned Daryoush, Jr.
RT A.J. Hood, Sr.
C Kyle Moore, Jr.
RG Matt Lippincott, Sr.
DT Tim Newton, Jr. (26 TT, 3 sacks, 2 PBU)
DT Arturo Gyles, Jr.
OLB Isaiah Campbell, Jr. (36 TT, 2 sacks, 1 FR)
OLB John Mahoney, Sr.
ILB Tashon Mitchell, Jr.
ILB Noah Robb, So.
CB Courtney Jarvis, Sr.
S Rickie Hill, Sr. (52 TT, 2 INT, 3 PBU)
S Tyler Ward, Sr.
P Tim Divers, Sr.
BIG LOSSES: QB Michael Colvin (227-of-369, 3,108 yards, 19 TD, 16 INT; 106 carries, 479 yards, 11 TD) and WR/KR Ryan Spadola (57 receptions, 851 yards, 4 TD)
2012 TEAM RANKINGS: Rushing Offense, 128.27 (84 in FCS, 4 in Patriot); Passing Offense, 283.09 (17 in FCS, 1 in Patriot); Total Offense, 411.36 (34 in FCS, 3 in Patriot); Scoring Offense, 30.27 (32 in FCS, 3 in Patriot); Rushing Defense, 148.27 (49 in FCS, 3 in Patriot); Passing Defense, 206 (46 in FCS, 1 in Patriot); Total Defense, 354.27 (46 in FCS, 2 in Patriot); Scoring Defense, 21.82 (34 in FCS, 1 in Patriot)
OUTLOOK: Few teams in the FCS are as hungry as the Mountain Hawks because they didn't receive an at-large selection to the 2012 FCS playoffs despite finishing 10-1, losing only to Colgate. They are replacing nine of their 11 all-league performers, so Coen has work ahead of him despite his program's tradition. Some seniors stepped up and led the team in spring practice, and Coen's experience at Lehigh is that players rise to a higher level as seniors. He hopes one of those players is Bialkowski, who takes over at quarterback. A left-hander, Bialkowski is experienced in the system. He will utilize weapons like Kurfis and Sherman to the fullest advantage. The linebackers, led by Muhammad - the Mountain Hawks' only preseason all-league pick - will lead the way while the defensive linemen and defensive backs mature. When that happens, the Mountain Hawks will be ready to tackle a potentially rugged schedule to end league play.
Sept. 7 - vs. Central Connecticut State
Sept. 14 - at Monmouth
Sept. 21 - at Princeton
Sept. 28 - vs. New Hampshire
Oct. 5 - at Fordham
Oct. 12 - at Columbia
Oct. 19 - vs. Georgetown
Oct. 26 - at Bucknell
Nov. 9 - vs. Holy Cross
Nov. 16 - at Colgate
Nov. 23 - vs. Lafayette
3. HOLY CROSS CRUSADERS
LOCATION: Worcester, Mass.
COACH: Tom Gilmore (53-47 in nine seasons at Holy Cross)
LAST SEASON: 2-9 overall, 2-3 Patriot
STARTERS RETURNING: 15 (6 offense/9 defense)
OFFENSIVE STAR: WR Mike Fess, Sr. (80 receptions, 795 yards, 4 TD)
DEFENSIVE STAR: DE Gary Acquah, Jr. (54 TT, 7 TFL, 2 sacks, 1 PBU, 1 BLK)
OTHER KEY PLAYERS: QB Steven Elder, Jr. (106-of-173, 1,281 yards, 7 TD, 6 INT)
QB Ryan Laughlin, Sr. (81-of-132, 752 yards, 6 TD, 1 INT)
RB Reggie Woods, Sr. (65 carries, 290 yards, 4 TD)
WR/RS Kyle Toulouse, Sr. (27 receptions, 244 yards)
WR/KR Kalif Raymond, So. (24.3-yard KO return average, 1 TD)
WR Jereme Murray, Jr.
LT Kyle Pedretty, Sr.
LG Casey Bessemer, Sr.
RT Blake Berresford, Sr.
C Jay Knighton, Sr.
DT Mike Galantini, So.
DE Matthew Boyd, Sr.
OLB Mike Tucker, Sr. (28 TT, 9 TFL, 2 sacks, 1 PBU, 1 FR)
ILB Roman SanDoval, Sr. (75 TT, 5 TFL, 3 sacks, 2 PBU)
ILB Scotty O'Donoghue, Sr.
CB Ben Coffaro, Jr. (50 TT, 2 INT, 2 PBU)
CB Irvin Scott, Sr.
FS Logan Silver, Jr.
FS Sam Jones, Jr.
PK/P John Macomber, Sr. (10-of-13 FG, 46 long, 55 points; 62 punts, 40.9 ypp)
BIG LOSS: SS Tom Mannix (88 TT, 2 INT, 8 PBU)
2012 TEAM RANKINGS: Rushing Offense, 113.73 (101 in FCS, 7 in Patriot); Passing Offense, 229.73 (42 in FCS, 4 in Patriot); Total Offense, 343.45 (82 in FCS, 5 in Patriot); Scoring Offense, 21.18 (89 in FCS, 5 in Patriot); Rushing Defense, 93 (189.55 in FCS, 6 in Patriot); Passing Defense, 226.09 (80 in FCS, 5 in Patriot); Total Defense, 415.64 (92 in FCS, 6 in Patriot); Scoring Defense, 28.82 (72 in FCS, 6 in Patriot)
OUTLOOK: The difficulty of the schedule lessens this season after the Crusaders couldn't keep up with one of the FCS' more demanding slates last season. Their run of seven straight winning seasons ended with a thud. But injuries also hit the team exceptionally hard, so many younger players were afforded playing experience, and that will pay off this season. QBs Elder and Laughlin showed improvement while leading the offense, with Elder the expected starter. Both QBs have a go-to receiver in Fess. Galantini got to take over at nose tackle as a freshman and is one of the better young players in the league. He's teamed up front with DE Acquah. At linebacker, SanDoval will be a standout if he remains healthy. With Raymond a deep threat on kickoffs and Macomber the league's most versatile kicker, the special teams will be excellent as well. Gilmore has done a terrific job in Worcester. Six of his team's losses were by a touchdown or less last season, so they expect to be much improved with a healthier lineup.
Aug. 31 - at Bryant
Sept. 7 - vs. Towson
Sept. 14 - at Central Connecticut State
Sept. 21 - vs. Monmouth
Sept. 28 - at Dartmouth
Oct. 5 - vs. Harvard
Oct. 12 - at Bucknell
Oct. 19 - vs. Colgate
Oct. 26 - vs. Lafayette
Nov. 2 - at Fordham
Nov. 9 - at Lehigh
Nov. 23 - vs. Georgetown
4. LAFAYETTE LEOPARDS
LOCATION: Easton, Pa.
COACH: Frank Tavani (71-76 in 13 seasons at Lafayette)
LAST SEASON: 5-6 overall, 2-3 Patriot
STARTERS RETURNING: 13 (8 offense/5 defense)
OFFENSIVE STARS: TB/KR Ross Scheuerman, Jr. (146 carries, 701 yards, 5 TD) and WR Mark Ross, Sr. (75 receptions, 1,030 yards, 10 TD)
DEFENSIVE STAR: MLB Mike Boles, Sr. (88 TT, 6 TFL, 2 sacks, 1 INT, 1 PBU, 2 QBH, 1 FF)
OTHER KEY PLAYERS: QB Zach Zweizig, Jr. (71-of-111, 927 yards, 8 TD, 8 INT)
TB Greg Kessel, Sr.
FB Pat Creahan, Sr.
WR Mike Duncan, Jr.
TE Brandon Hall, Sr.
LT Luke Chiarolanzio, Jr.
LG Brad Bormann, Sr.
C Pat Crosby, Sr.
RG Maxim Ngolia, Jr.
RT Zack Mazur, Jr.
DE James Coscia, Jr.
DT Darius Glove, Sr.
DE Shane Dorner, Jr. (30 TT, 5.5 sacks, 2 PBU)
OLB Ben Aloi, Sr.
OLB Colton Kirkpatrick, Jr. (71 TT, 3 sacks, 2 INT, 2 PBU, 2 QBH)
CB Damarcus Ingram, Jr.
SS Jared Roberts, Jr. (54 TT, 6.5 TFL, 3 sacks, 1 INT, 4 QBH)
FS Shane Black, Jr. (73 TT, 4 INT, 5 PBU, 1 FR)
PK Ryan Gralish, So.
BIG LOSSES: DT Rick Lyster (54 TT, 6.5 TFL, 3 sacks, 1 INT, 4 QBH) and WR/PR Jamel Smith (38 receptions, 291 yards, 2 TD; 12.7-yard punt return average)
2012 TEAM RANKINGS: Rushing Offense, 122.27 (92 in FCS, 5 in Patriot); Passing Offense, 234.91 (36 in FCS, 3 in Patriot); Total Offense, 357.18 (73 in FCS, 4 in Patriot); Scoring Offense, 23.91 (72 in FCS, 4 in Patriot); Rushing Defense, 184.82 (86 in FCS, 5 in Patriot); Passing Defense, 215.91 (66 in FCS, 3 in Patriot); Total Defense, 400.73 (80 in FCS, 4 in Patriot); Scoring Defense, 27 (61 in FCS, 4 in Patriot)
OUTLOOK: Three straight losing seasons have left fans dissatisfied, but the Leopards think they can end that run this season. They have a more experienced team, although Smith, the 2012 Patriot League Rookie of the Year, and safety Kyle Sakowski left school this offseason. If he cuts down on interceptions, Zweizig could put the Leopards in the league title race. He was set back by both an injury and the death of his father last year, but Tavani is confident in Zweizig and says he won't make the same mistake twice. Zweizig can rely on the league's best wide receiver (Ross) and one of the better all-purpose backs (Scheuerman). Plus, the Leopards return all five starters on the offensive line. They have worked to get stronger on both lines, and Boles and Roberts are all-league talents at middle linebacker and strong safety, respectively. The Leopards' tough non-league schedule will prepare them well for Patriot games.
Sept. 7 - vs. Sacred Heart
Sept. 14 - vs. William & Mary
Sept. 21 - at Penn
Oct. 5 - vs. Bucknell
Oct. 12 - at Princeton
Oct. 19 - at Harvard
Oct. 26 - at Holy Cross
Nov. 2 - at Georgetown
Nov. 9 - vs. Colgate
Nov. 16 - vs. Fordham
Nov. 23 - at Lehigh
5. GEORGETOWN HOYAS
COACH: Kevin Kelly (22-54 in seven seasons at Georgetown)
LAST SEASON: 5-6 overall, 2-3 Patriot
STARTERS RETURNING: 14 (7 offense/7 defense)
OFFENSIVE STARS: RB Nick Campanella, Sr. (110 carries, 501 yards, 7 TD) and LT James Spaly, Sr.
DEFENSIVE STAR: LB Dustin Wharton, Sr. (104 TT, 9.5 TFL, 3.5 sacks, 7 PBU,2 QBH, 1 FR, 2 FF, 2 BLK)
OTHER KEY PLAYERS: QB Kyle Nolan, So. (33-of-76, 473 yards, 4 TD, 4 INT)
QB Isaiah Kempf, Sr. (injured last season)
RB Dalen Claytor, Sr. (57 carries, 284 yards, 1 TD)
RB Jo'el Kimpela, So. (55 carries, 242 yards, 1 TD)
WR Zack Wilke, Sr. (19 receptions, 238 yards, 1 TD)
WR Elliott Owusu, Sr.
TE Daniel Sprotte, Sr. (15 receptions, 134 yards)
RT Michael Francis, Sr.
RG Mike Roland, Jr.
C Nick Quintans, Jr.
DT Jordan Richardson, Jr.
DE Sean Campbell, Sr. (52 TT, 9 TFL, 3 sacks, 1 FR, 2 FF)
DE Alec May, Jr. (43 TT, 5 sacks, 2 PBU, 1 FF)
DE Dezmond Richardson, So.
LB Nick Alfieri, Jr. (91 TT, 1 INT, 1 FR, 1 FF)
CB Cameron Gamble, So.
S Stephen Atwater, Sr. (43 TT, 1 INT, 3 PBU, 1 FR).
S Malcolm Caldwell-Meeks, Sr.
PK/P Matt MacZura, Sr.
BIG LOSS: LB Robert McCabe (159 TT, 14.5 TFL, 5.5 sacks, 2 PBU)
2012 TEAM RANKINGS: Rushing Offense, 146.09 (66 in FCS, 3 in Patriot); Passing Offense, 175.18 (85 in FCS, 7 in Patriot); Total Offense, 321.27 (95 in FCS, 6 in Patriot); Scoring Offense, 19.18 (98 in FCS, 6 in Patriot); Rushing Defense, 144.64 (46 in FCS, 2 in Patriot); Passing Defense, 216.27 (67 in FCS, 4 in Patriot); Total Defense, 360.91 (49 in FCS, 3 in Patriot); Scoring Defense, 23.73 (45 in FCS, 2 in Patriot)
OUTLOOK: As the only Patriot program without football scholarships, it would seem the Hoyas are being left behind in the league title chase. But that might be down the line because they have 24 seniors this season for their biggest senior class under Kelly. He's turned around the program, as the Hoyas are a combined 17-16 over the past three seasons. It will be difficult for the defense to replace McCabe, its Buck Buchanan Award finalist, and standout cornerback Jeremy Moore, but the coaching staff is so excited by what it has on the defensive line that the Hoyas have switched to a 4-3 scheme. Campbell and May will be dangerous pass rushers, backed by LB Wharton, the league's preseason defensive player of the year. On offense, QB Kempf hopes to make it back from a concussion last season, but while the Hoyas used five quarterbacks, they might have found one in Nolan. Campanella will work behind the offensive line as a veteran running back.
Aug. 31 - at Wagner
Sept. 7 - vs. Davidson
Sept. 14 - vs. Marist
Sept. 21 - at Brown
Sept. 28 - vs. Princeton
Oct. 12 - vs. Fordham
Oct. 19 - at Lehigh
Oct. 26 - vs. Colgate
Nov. 2 - vs. Lafayette
Nov. 16 - at Bucknell
Nov. 23 - at Holy Cross
6. BUCKNELL BISON
LOCATION: Lewisburg, Pa.
COACH: Joe Susan (10-23 in three seasons at Bucknell; 20-23 overall)
LAST SEASON: 3-8 overall, 0-5 Patriot
STARTERS RETURNING: 16 (9 offense/7 defense)
OFFENSIVE STAR: FB Travis Friend, Sr. (16 receptions, 136 yards, 1 TD)
DEFENSIVE STAR: S Matthew Steinbeck, Jr. (44 TT, 6 INT, 2 PBU)
OTHER KEY PLAYERS: QB Brandon Wesley, Sr. (174-of-289, 1,781 yards, 7 TD, 7 INT; 108 carries, 211 yards, 2 TD)
RB Charles Thompson, Sr. (22 carries, 139 yards)
RB Matt DelMauro, So.
WR/KR Victor Walker, Sr. (45 receptions, 494 yards)
WR Josh Brake, Jr. (27 receptions, 395 yards, 1 TD)
LT Lonnie Rawles, Jr.
C Brandon Noblett, Jr.
RG Nevin Hagman, Jr.
RG Clayton Hoffmaster, So.
DE Sean Sellers, Sr. (32 TT, 8 TFL, 6 sacks, 2 PBU, 1 FR)
NG Tracey Smith, Sr. (45 TT, 5.5 TFL, 3 sacks, 2 PBU, 1 BLK)
LB Evan Byers, Sr. (100 TT, 13.5 TFL, 5.5 sacks, 3 INT)
LB Lee Marvel, Jr. (58 TT, 6.5 TFL, 1.5 sacks, 4 PBU, 1 FF, 1 BLK)
CB Derrick Palmer, Sr.
CB Tajh Turner, Sr.
S Ryan Morgan, Sr.
P/PR Kyle Sullivan, Sr.
BIG LOSS: DE Samuel Oyekoya (40 TT, 14 TFL, 9 sacks, 1 FR, 1 FF)
2012 TEAM RANKINGS: Rushing Offense, 120.64 (93 in FCS, 6 in Patriot); Passing Offense, 177.73 (84 in FCS, 6 in Patriot); Total Offense, 298.36 (105 in FCS, 7 in Patriot); Scoring Offense, 15 (114 in FCS, 7 in Patriot); Rushing Defense, 101.27 (7 in FCS, 1 in Patriot); Passing Defense, 246.18 (99 in FCS, 6 in Patriot); Total Defense, 347.45 (41 in FCS, 1 in Patriot); Scoring Defense, 23.91 (47 in FCS, 3 in Patriot)
OUTLOOK: The Bison took a step back last year after a 6-5 season in 2011, but they have a veteran team to get back on track this year. Under Susan, the Bison's 4-2-5 defense has been a skilled group. It won't change despite the big loss of pass rusher Oyekoya. Steinbeck led the Patriot League with six interceptions and opposing quarterbacks also have to worry about Sellers, Smith and Byers getting into their pocket. Wesley will be their starting quarterback for a fourth straight season, but he has to lift a team that ranked 114th in the FCS with 15 points per game. Friend has made the all-league first or second team three times and three starters are back on the offensive line, so the blocking will be solid. Susan needs some running back to emerge and allow Wesley to end his career on a big note. The Bison could very well challenge for another winning season under Susan.
Sept. 7 - vs. Marist
Sept. 21 - at Cornell
Sept. 28 - vs. Sacred Heart
Oct. 5 - at Lafayette
Oct. 12 - vs. Holy Cross
Oct. 19 - at Dartmouth
Oct. 26 - vs. Lehigh
Nov. 2 - at Colgate
Nov. 9 - at Fordham
Nov. 16 - vs. Georgetown
Nov. 23 - at VMI
FORDHAM RAMS (ineligible for league championship)
LOCATION: Bronx, N.Y.
COACH: Joe Moorhead (6-5 in one season at Fordham)
LAST SEASON: 6-5 overall
STARTERS RETURNING: 11 (5 offense/6 defense)
OFFENSIVE STAR: RB Carlton Koonce, Sr. (300 carries, 1,596 yards, 13 TD; 48 receptions, 313 yards, 2 TD)
DEFENSIVE STAR: CB Ian Williams, Sr. (86 TT, 2 TFL, 5 sacks, 6 PBU, 2 FF)
OTHER KEY PLAYERS: QB Michael Nebrich, Jr. (14-of-23, 105 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT; 36 carries, 162 yards, 4 TD)
QB Peter Maetzold, Jr.
WR/RS Brian Wetzel, Jr. (72 receptions, 1,042 yards, 7 TD; 23-yard KO return average)
TE Dan Light, Jr. (45 receptions, 388 yards)
LT Mason Halter, Jr.
LT Thomas Fisher, Sr.
RT Matt Stolte, Sr.
RG Steven Tapia, Sr.
DT DeAndre Slate, Jr. (46 TT, 5 TFL, 1.5 sacks, 2 PBU, 1 FF, 1 BLK)
DE Eli Tenuta, Sr.
DE Brett Biestek, Sr.
LB Austin Hancock, Jr. (68 TT, 3.5 TFL, 1 INT, 4 PBU, 1 FR)
LB Jake Rodriques, Sr. (81 TT, 9.5 TFL, 4.5 sacks, 1 INT, 1 PBU, 1 FR)
CB Jordan Chapman, Jr.
S Jake Dixon, Jr. (55 TT, 2 TFL, 2 INT, 3 PBU, 1 FR)
S De'Nard Pinckney, Jr.
BIG LOSSES: PK/P Patrick Murray (25-of-30 FG, 55 long, 105 points; 52 punts, 46-yard punt average) and QB Ryan Higgins (255-of-387, 2,940 yards, 14 TD, 9 INT)
2012 TEAM RANKINGS: Rushing Offense, 156.09 (54 in FCS, 2 in Patriot); Passing Offense, 279.64 (18 in FCS, 2 in Patriot); Total Offense, 435.73 (20 in FCS, 2 in Patriot); Scoring Offense, 31.18 (31 in FCS, 2 in Patriot); Rushing Defense, 171.45 (72 in FCS, 4 in Patriot); Passing Defense, 248.73 (102 in FCS, 7 in Patriot); Total Defense, 420.18 (95 in FCS, 7 in Patriot); Scoring Defense, 28.09 (67 in FCS, 5 in Patriot)
OUTLOOK: This is the fourth straight but final season Fordham is ineligible for the Patriot League championship after it was the first to go to football scholarships in 2010 (against league rules). Last year's six wins under Moorhead were five more than in 2011, and the Rams lost to three league opponents by a combined eight points. So the difference between a 6-5 record and something even better wasn't far off. The loss of Higgins under center is significant, although Maetzold made four starts in 2011 and Nebrich showed his running skills in relief last season. The Rams feature a workhorse in Koonce, a Walter Payton Award candidate. Plus, Wetzel is coming off a 1,000-yard season at wideout. Rodriques and Williams are the heart of the defense after it lost several key starters. But the special teams suffered the greatest loss, Murray, who kicked 25 field goals and averaged 46 yards on punts. It's a team with a small senior class, but once the Rams jell, they will be tough to beat this season.
Aug. 29 - vs. Rhode Island
Sept. 7 - vs. Villanova
Sept. 14 - at Temple
Sept. 21 - vs. Columbia
Sept. 28 - at St. Francis (Pa.)
Oct. 5 - vs. Lehigh
Oct. 12 - at Georgetown
Oct. 19 - at Yale
Nov. 2 - vs. Holy Cross
Nov. 9 - vs. Bucknell
Nov. 16 - at Lafayette
Nov. 23 - at Colgate
08/18 06:46:43 ET