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In the FCS Huddle: 2014 Pioneer League Preview
By Brandon Lawrence, FCS Associate
Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - University of San Diego coach Dale Lindsey isn't sure where all of his team's first-place votes came from, but he's certainly appreciative of the confidence other programs have in his squad.
"We'd like to thank all the coaches for their kindness, but we don't know that we're a first-place team," Lindsey said during the PFL's media conference call this summer. "There's just too many questions at this time."
The Toreros are just one program out of a handful that have spent time in the offseason trying to find replacements for significant contributors lost to graduation.
After a season that contained plenty of parity in the league - one that saw the Butler Bulldogs become the first PFL team to appear in the FCS playoffs with the league's first-ever automatic bid - the follow-up should be contentious in 2014.
Jacksonville, picked to finish second here and third in the preseason head coaches poll, returns a bevy of offensive firepower, including two top receivers, a starting quarterback and a slew of talented running backs. But can the defense keep pace?
Dayton could be a serious contender as one of the only teams to retain its top signal caller and running back - both of whom can be found on the preseason All-PFL team. And several key defenders will make it hard for opposing offenses to actually get into the end zone.
After just one season in the PFL, Mercer has moved on to the Southern Conference, leaving its fellow 2013 start-up, Stetson, to contend with a bunch of PFL-seasoned programs. But guess what? Mercer will still make the trip to DeLand in mid-September to take on the Hatters.
Davidson was one of only three winless teams in the FCS last season and won't exactly feel at ease without Jonathan Carkhuff at quarterback. The Wildcats will have some work to do to climb out of the basement.
Like San Diego, Butler is looking to replace some valuable contributors on offense, including the Bulldogs' top statistical leaders at all three of the skills positions. No more Matt Lancaster under center, Trae Heeter at running back and Brendan Shannon at wideout could mean a dip in offensive production, or at least an increased amount of time for new starters to jell.
"To find those type of guys, I think we're going to have to do it as an 11- man unit, and that's what we pride ourselves on," Butler coach Jeff Voris said.
Following is a team-by-team breakdown of the 2014 Pioneer Football League race.
The Sports Network's predicted order of finish:
1. San Diego
7. Morehead State
1. SAN DIEGO TOREROS
LOCATION: San Diego
STADIUM: Torero Stadium
COACH: Dale Lindsey (8-3 in one season at San Diego)
LAST SEASON: 8-3 overall, ineligible PFL
STARTERS RETURNING: 10 (6 offense/4 defense)
BIG LOSSES: QB Mason Mills (256-for-388, 35 TD, 5 INT); RB Joe Ferguson (124 carries, 905 yards, 6 TD; 20 receptions, 236 yards, 3 TD); RB Kenn James (108 carries, 697 yards, 4 TD); WR/RS Sam Hoekstra (48 receptions, 771 yards, 6 TD); OL Tobin Gramyk; DE Steve Gargiulo (46 TT, 12 TFL, 8.5 sacks, 5 QBH); DE Blake Oliaro (39 TT, 12 TFL, 7.5 sacks, 1 PBU, 6 QBH); DT Clint Johnson (29 TT, 6.5 TFL, 3 sacks); LB Michael Ruffino (68 TT, 3.5 TFL, 1.5 sacks, 2 PBU, 2 QBH); LB Zach Devaney (63 TT, 6.5 TFL, 5 PBU); S Robbie Beathard (59 TT, 4.5 TFL, 2 INT, 3 PBU, 1 QBH)
OFFENSIVE STAR: WR Reggie Bell, Sr. (65 receptions, 1,050 yards, 9 TD)
DEFENSIVE STAR: CB Jamal Agnew, So. (46 TT, 6 TFL, 1 INT, 7 PBU, 1 FR)
OTHER KEY PLAYERS: QB Trey Wheeler, Jr.
QB Keith Williams, So.
RB Jonah Hodges, So.
RB Dallas Kessman, Jr.
WR Brandon White, Sr. (47 receptions, 590 yards, 12 TD)
TE Matt Guillaume, Sr.
OL Pono Keni, Jr.
OL Daniel Murray, Jr.
OL Luke Meyer, Jr.
OL Jeff Starr, Jr.
DT Brandon Pulealii, Jr.
LB Una Hamala, Sr.
CB Toney Sawyer, Sr. (34 TT, 1 INT, 3 PBU, 1 FR)
DB Yogi Hale, Sr. (32 TT, 3 TFL, 3 INT, 2 PBU, 1 FF)
S Troy McClelland, Sr. (50 TT, 1 sack, 2 INT, 6 PBU)
S Matt Miller, Sr. (90 TT, 3 PBU)
PK David Last, Jr. (10-of-12 FG, 84 yards)
P Ryan Belden, So. (39 punts, 43.6 ypp)
OUTLOOK: San Diego disqualified itself from FCS postseason contention in 2013 because the way the Toreros' athletics program awarded need-based financial aid to football players was incompatible with PFL rules. That was a considerable blow largely because the team was in line for the PFL's first automatic bid to the postseason. So there's no question San Diego returns this season with a hunger to get back to the top, but that's about the only thing that needs no questioning. Without QB Mills, RB Ferguson and WR Hoekstra, the Toreros offense is a bit of a mystery. Thankfully, WR Bell will make the transitioning quarterback feel a bit more comfortable. The PFL's second- leading scoring offense (39.1 points per game) in 2013 seems a bit unlikely to replicate that number this season, so the defense, led by a strong secondary, will have to step up. With a bit of time, Lindsey can find a way to piece it all together and get San Diego back toward the top of the league.
Sept. 6 - Western New Mexico
Sept. 13 - at Jacksonville
Sept. 20 - Princeton
Sept. 27 - at Marist
Oct. 11 - Stetson
Oct. 18 - at Butler
Oct. 25 - Dayton
Nov. 1 - at Drake
Nov. 8 - Morehead State
Nov. 15 - Valparaiso
Nov. 22 - Cal Poly
2. JACKSONVILLE DOLPHINS
LOCATION: Jacksonville, Florida
STADIUM: D.B. Milne Field
COACH: Kerwin Bell (48-30 in seven seasons at Jacksonville)
LAST SEASON: 5-6 overall, 4-4 PFL (6th)
STARTERS RETURNING: 14 (8 offense/6 defense)
BIG LOSSES: RB Frantz Caudio (64 carries, 441 yards, 7 TD); WR/PR Adrian Riley (26 receptions, 352 yards, 3 TD; 11.5-yard punt return average, 1 TD); OL Dylan Bostick; DT Juan Pimienta (43 TT, 7 TFL, 4.5 sacks, 2 QBH, 1 FR, 1 FF); DE Luidji Michel (49 TT, 7 TFL, 3 sacks, 1 FR); DL Aaron Riley (25 TT, 10 TFL, 7 sacks, 1 FF); DB Andre Addison (67 TT, 4 TFL, 10 PBU, 1 FR); DB Ed Foley (67 TT, 2 INT, 5 PBU, 1 QBH, 1 FR); PK/P Dylan Lynch (11-of-19 FG, 94 points)
OFFENSIVE STAR: WR Andrew Robustelli, Sr. (51 receptions, 1,063 yards, 11 TD)
DEFENSIVE STAR: DE Maroa White, Jr. (55 TT, 12 TFL, 9 sacks, 3 QBH, 1 FF)
OTHER KEY PLAYERS: QB Kade Bell, Jr. (158-for-287, 2,397 yards, 25 TD, 13 INT; 71 carries, 101 yards, 1 TD)
RB Ulysses Bryant, So. (111 carries, 710 yards, 7 TD)
RB Orlando Thomas, Jr. (46 carries, 381 yards, 5 TD)
WR Dorian Guy, Sr. (missed most of last season due to injury)
WR D'Andre Randle, Sr. (50 TT, 865 yards, 9 TD)
WR Andy Jones, Jr. (31 TT, 457 yards, 2 TD)
LG Matt Davis, Sr.
LT Kevin Battle, Jr.
RG Montavis Mack, Sr.
LB Mike Klein, Sr. (76 TT, 7 TFL, 3 PBU, 1 FR, 1 FF)
LB Grady Redding, So. (67 TT, 5.5 TFL, 1 PBU, 1 FR, 1 FF)
LB Anthony Joiner, Sr. (43 TT, 4 TFL, 3 PBU, 2 FR, 1 FF)
LB D.J. Howard, Jr. (29 TT, 3.5 TFL, 2 FF)
CB Schon Thomas, Sr. (28 TT, 1 INT, 5 PBU, 1 FR)
CB Antonio McRae, Jr. (39 TT, 2.5 TFL, 3 INT, 4 PBU, 1 FR, 1 FF)
DB Jordan Dewhirst, Sr.
OUTLOOK: Even though Jacksonville lost some key pieces defensively to graduation, including most of the team's productive defensive line, the Dolphins will be tough to beat in 2014 because of an extremely talented and veteran offense, led by quarterback Kade Bell. Bell is a very mobile quarterback who is accurate throwing on the run and has improved his decision making skills considerably. But don't count out the team's multitude of weapons for Bell, including WR Robustelli, who was a nice breakout surprise in 2013. Also, WR Guy is back after getting medical clearance to play another season. A stable of running backs, led by Bryant, will be able to keep defenses honest. DB Dewhirst tore his ACL in the 2013 season opener and returns to bolster the secondary. He was a first-team All-PFL selection in 2012. A strong linebacker corps will help keep scoring down, but losing three of four defensive linemen after last season means more rushing attempts for opponents. The Dolphins have a tough schedule to overcome, which includes a five-game road stretch late in the season. Opening the season with Southeastern Louisiana will be a tall order, but getting San Diego and Drake at home should help.
Aug. 30 - at Southeastern Louisiana
Sept. 13 - San Diego
Sept. 20 - Penn
Sept. 27 - at Butler
Oct. 4 - Drake
Oct. 11 - at Morehead State
Oct. 18 - at Stetson
Oct. 25 - at Limestone
Nov. 1 - at Marist
Nov. 8 - at Davidson
Nov. 15 - Campbell
3. DRAKE BULLDOGS
LOCATION: Des Moines, Iowa
STADIUM: Drake Stadium
COACH: Rick Fox (first season)
LAST SEASON: 6-5 overall, 5-3 PFL (Tie/4th)
STARTERS RETURNING: 15 (9 offense/6 defense)
BIG LOSSES: WR Nick Rosa (56 receptions, 858 yards, 9 TD); DE Brandon Coleman (28 TT, 12.5 TFL, 9 sacks, 3 PBU, 2 QBH, 1 FR, 4 FF); DE Naser Hannoon (21 TT, 6.5 TFL, 2 sacks, 3 PBU, 2 FR, 1 FF); LB Seth Hedman (52 TT, 1.5 TFL, 1 QBH); DB Mike Ratelle (65 TT, 2.5 TFL, 3 INT, 8 PBU, 1 FF)
OFFENSIVE STAR: QB Andy Rice, Jr. (248-for-388, 2,801 yards, 21 TD, 10 INT)
DEFENSIVE STAR: LB John Hugunin, Jr. (113 TT, 11 TFL, 2 FR, 1 FF, 1 BLK)
OTHER KEY PLAYERS: RB Gary Scott Jr., Jr. (159 carries, 686 yards, 3 TD)
RB A.J. Washington, So. (63 carries, 231 yards, 1 TD)
RB Conley Wilkins, So. (46 carries, 242 yards, 2 TD)
WR Michael Hudson (30 receptions, 269 yards, 3 TD)
WR Grahm Butler, Jr.
TE Eric Saubert, So. (47 receptions, 549 yards, 2 TD)
TE Lee Snell, Jr.
OL Aaron Johnson, Jr.
OL John McMahon, Jr.
C Troy Whitmer, Sr.
DT Matt Acree, Sr. (32 TT, 5 sacks, 1 FR, 1 FF, 1 BLK)
DL Brett Park, Sr.
LB Sean Conerty, Sr. (45 TT, 6 TFL, 2 FR, 1 FF)
LB Taylor Coleman, So.
DB Drew Ormseth, Jr. (32 TT, 1.5 TFL, 2 PBU)
DB Bob Quilico Jr., Jr. (51 TT, 1 sack, 1 FR)
DB Michael Roane, So.
DB Brad Duwe, Jr. (42 TT, 2 TFL, 3 INT, 2 PBU, 1 FF)
DB John Bloss, Jr. (43 TT, 3 TFL, 6 PBU)
P Cam Bohnert, So. (50 punts, 39.8 ypp)
OUTLOOK: Drake prided itself on defense a season ago, finishing atop the PFL in scoring defense by allowing just 19.5 ppg to opponents. The Bulldogs return a very strong presence on the defensive side once again, which is led by LB Hugenin, an All-PFL preseason selection. The defensive backfield returns some crucial contributors as well, including DBs Duwe and Bloss. Head coach Fox thinks QB Rice will be greatly improved under center this season, although WR Rosa is no longer on the roster. The running game will have to be a greater contributing factor this season to help Rice and the offense avoid becoming one-dimensional. The Bulldogs were picked to finish fifth in the head coaches poll but still received a first-place vote, and less than 10 points separated them and positions two through four. Drake opens the season with two home games against Grand View - an NAIA program - and Division II Truman State, then hits the road to take on non-conference foe Western Illinois. Road games at Jacksonville and Dayton - two strong offensive programs - will be a true test for Drake's defense.
Aug. 30 - Grand View
Sept. 6 - Truman State
Sept. 13 - at Western Illinois
Sept. 20 - Marist
Oct. 4 - at Jacksonville
Oct. 11 - Davidson
Oct. 18 - at Valparaiso
Oct. 25 - Butler
Nov. 1 - San Diego
Nov. 8 - at Dayton
Nov. 22 - at Stetson
4. DAYTON FLYERS
LOCATION: Dayton, Ohio
STADIUM: Welcome Stadium
COACH: Rick Chamberlin (40-16 in five seasons at Dayton; 40-16 overall)
LAST SEASON: 7-4 overall, 5-3 PFL (Tie/4th)
STARTERS RETURNING: 12 (7 offense/5 defense)
BIG LOSSES: RB Robert Washington (95 carries, 426 yards, 5 TD); Slot/RS Gary Hunter (36 receptions, 726 yards, 4 TD; 24.5-yard KO return average, 1 TD); Slot Gabe Macis (34 receptions, 413 yards, 4 TD); OT Tom Corcoran; DT Brannon Dunn (26 TT, 1.5 sacks, 1 PBU, 1 QBH, 1 FF); LB Collin Monnier (105 TT, 12.5 TFL, 3.5 sacks, 2 INT, 3 PBU, 2 QBH, 1 FR); CB Howard Savage (75 TT, 2 TFL, 7 PBU, 1 FR, 2 FF); CB Kyle Sebetic (63 TT, 1.5 TFL, 1 INT, 7 PBU, 1 FF); S Nick Weston (50 TT, 3 INT, 3 PBU, 1 QBH)
OFFENSIVE STAR: RB Connor Kacsor, Sr. (177 carries, 956 yards, 10 TD)
DEFENSIVE STAR: LB Chris Beaschler, So. (83 TT, 7.5 TFL, 1 INT, 4 PBU, 1 FF)
OTHER KEY PLAYERS: QB Will Bardo, Sr. (144-for-262, 1,915 yards, 13 TD, 8 INT; 96 carries, 519 yards, 9 TD)
FB Jack Beebe, Sr.
WR Branden Johnson, Sr.
Slot Ross Smith, Sr. (35 receptions, 417 yards)
OG Chris Cortopassi, Sr.
OG/Snapper Robert Delaney, Jr.
C Shane Toub, So.
OT Zac Morgan, So.
DE Pat Dowd, Sr. (37 TT, 11.5 sacks, 1 PBU, 2 QBH, 1 FR, 2 FF, 1 BLK)
DE Nate Sudnick, So. (21 TT, 7.5 TFL, 1.5 sacks, 4 QBH)
DT Tim Alber, Sr.
DT Miles Ashelman, So. (28 TT, 3.5 TFL, 4 QBH)
DT Austen Alber, Sr. (46 TT, 4 TFL, 2 PBU, 1 QBH, 2 FF)
LB/S Ryan Schwenke, Jr. (56 TT, 3 TFL, 3 INT, 1 PBU)
CB/KR Cameron Stubbs, So.
CB Zach Elias, Sr. (39 TT, 1.5 TFL, 1 INT, 6 PBU, 1 FF)
FS Danny Leach, Jr. (24 TT, 1 TFL, 1 PBU)
SS Luke Welsh, So.
PK Willy Will, So. (10-of-12 FG, 71 points)
P Kyle Pignatiello, Sr.
OUTLOOK: Dayton finished eight points behind the favorite San Diego in the preseason head coaches poll despite not receiving a first-place vote. The Flyers seem to be pretty much set offensively with both QB Bardo and RB Kacsor leading the way. Both are preseason All-PFL members looking to improve on a 2013 season that saw Dayton finish sixth in scoring offense (30.5 ppg) and seventh in total offense (379.5 ypg). Kacsor nearly rushed for 1,000 yards last season, despite only playing in seven games due to injury. If he can remain healthy, he'll no doubt have a strong campaign behind a veteran offensive line. On defense, the Flyers need to replace some key members of a secondary that included S Weston and CBs Savage and Sebetic and helped Dayton finish fourth in the PFL in scoring defense (23.8 ppg). DE Dowd, another preseason All-PFL selection, recorded 11.5 sacks in 2013, and will lead a senior-laden group of linemen against the run. Tough road games against Marist, San Diego and Butler will define the Flyers, who avoid playing Jacksonville this season.
Sept. 6 - Georgetown
Sept. 13 - at Duquesne
Sept. 20 - Robert Morris
Oct. 4 - at Davidson
Oct. 11 - at Marist
Oct. 18 - Morehead State
Oct 25 - at San Diego
Nov. 1 - Valparaiso
Nov. 8 - Drake
Nov.. 15 - at Butler
Nov. 22 - Campbell
5. BUTLER BULLDOGS
STADIUM: Butler Bowl
COACH: Jeff Voris (50-41 in eight seasons at Butler; 65-75 overall)
LAST SEASON: 9-4 overall, 7-1 PFL (Tie/1st)
STARTERS RETURNING: 7 (3 offense/4 defense)
BIG LOSSES: QB Matt Lancaster (230-for-381, 2,761 yards, 19 TD, 9 INT; 131 carries, 757 yards, 12 TD); RB Trae Heeter (257 carries, 1,375 yards, 13 TD; 35 receptions, 404 yards, 3 TD); WR Brendan Shannon (76 carries, 1,041 yards, 6 TD); OL Charles Perrecone; DL Jeremy Stephens (51 TT, 8 TFL, 4 sacks, 2 PBU, 4 QBH, 1 FR, 1 FF); LB Phillip Powell (48 TT, 2 TFL, 1 FR); LB Paul Yanow (62 TT, 4.5 TFL, 2 sacks, 3 PBU, 5 QBH, 3 FR, 2 FF); LB Zack Sedivy (58 TT, 7 TFL, 2 sacks, 1 INT, 1 PBU, 1 QBH, 2 FR, 1 FF); LB Thad Satre (34 TT, 1 INT, 1 PBU, 1 QBH); LB Bryce Barry, Sr. (41 TT, 2.5 TFL, 1 INT, 1 PBU); DB Jayme Szafranski (57 TT, 7 PBU, 1 FR, 2 FF); DB Sean Grady (55 TT, 4 INT, 7 PBU, 1 QBH, 2 FF); DB Jimmy Schwabe (36 TT, 2 TFL, 2 INT, 2 PBU, 1 FR)
OFFENSIVE STAR: WR Derek O'Connor, Jr. (sat out last season)
DEFENSIVE STAR: DT Glen Somers, Sr. (34 TT, 5 TFL, 3.5 sacks, 2 QBH, 1 FF)
OTHER KEY PLAYERS: QB Malcolm Weaver, So.
QB Matt Shiltz, Jr.
RB Rico Watson, Jr. (50 carries, 304 yards, 5 TD)
WR/KR Marquese Martin-Hayes, Jr.
TE Zack Wolfe, Jr.
OT David Tiwari, Jr.
OT Michael Demos, Jr.
OG Greg Ambrose, Sr.
DL Kyle Annis, Jr. (34 TT, 5 TFL, 2 sacks, 3 QBH)
DE Josh Willis, So.
LB Christian Eble, Sr. (21 TT, 2 sacks, 1 INT, 1 PBU)
DB David Burke, Sr. (72 TT, 7 TFL, 2 INT, 4 PBU, 2 FR, 1 FF)
DB JoJo Ciancio, Sr. (41 TT, 2 TFL, 1 INT, 1 PBU, 1 FR)
PK Jon Treloar, Jr. (9-of-11 FG, 81 points)
OUTLOOK: Coming off back-to-back PFL titles and a trip to the FCS postseason, the Butler Bulldogs seem to be the most reeling in terms of having to replace some top contributors to its offense. QB Lancaster, who finished as Butler�s fourth all-time leading passer after just two seasons, will need to be replaced, along with 1,300-yard rusher Heeter and 1,000-yard receiver Shannon. QB Weaver played in all 13 games last season as a wingback, and averaged 6.7 yards per carry. WR O'Connor returns after sitting out last season, but he finished second on the team in receiving with 49 catches for 661 yards and three touchdowns in 2012. Defensively, the biggest loss is at linebacker, though Eble will be back for a senior season. Finding offensive production to even challenge last year's 33.3 points per game seems to be the greatest hurdle for Voris and the coaching staff. The Bulldogs face Division III Wittenberg and NAIA Taylor for two of the team's three non-conference matchups, and get Jacksonville, San Diego and Dayton at home.
Sept. 6 - at Wittenberg
Sept. 13 - at Youngstown State
Sept. 20 - Taylor
Sept. 27 - Jacksonville
Oct. 4 - at Stetson
Oct. 11 - at Campbell
Oct. 18 - San Diego
Oct. 25 - at Drake
Nov. 1 - Morehead State
Nov. 8 - at Valparaiso
Nov. 15 - Dayton
6. MARIST RED FOXES
LOCATION: Poughkeepsie, New York
STADIUM: Leonidoff Field
COACH: Jim Parady (115-113-1 in 22 seasons at Marist)
LAST SEASON: 8-3 overall, 7-1 PFL (Tie/1st)
STARTERS RETURNING: 10 (4 offense/6 defense)
BIG LOSSES: QB Chuckie Looney (196-for-339, 2,763 yards, 30 TD, 8 INT; 103 carries, 395 yards, 6 TD); WR Bartley Leneghan (45 receptions, 833 yards, 8 TD); LT Peter Evans; LG Rocco Manfre; RT Phede Celestin; DE Terrence Fede (59 TT, 18 TFL, 13 sacks, 4 PBU, 13 QBH, 1 FF); DL Chris Katerianakis (23 TT, 2 sacks, 1 INT, 1 PBU, 2 QBH, 1 BLK); LB Hugh Kirwan (35 TT, 2.5 TFL, 2 QBH); S Nick Kaszei (78 TT, 2 TFL, 3 INT, 2 PBU, 3 FF)
OFFENSIVE STAR: WR Armani Martin, Sr. (44 receptions, 744 yards, 12 TD)
DEFENSIVE STAR: DE Landon Moore, Jr. (44 TT, 14 TFL, 6.5 sacks, 4 PBU, 13 QBH, 1 FR, 1 FF)
OTHER KEY PLAYERS: QB Ed Achziger, Jr.
QB Anthony Francis, So.
RB Atiq Lucas, Sr. (166 carries, 798 yards, 11 TD)
RB Wale Onakoya, Sr. (73 carries, 356 yards, 3 TD)
WR Matt Tralli, Sr. (50 receptions, 533 yards, 4 TD)
WR Joe Tralli, Sr. (29 receptions, 347 yards, 2 TD)
C Mike Mangino, Sr.
OT Kyle Bakker, Sr.
OL Jack Meussner, Sr.
NT Nick Foster, Sr. (25 TT, 2.5 TFL, 2 QBH, 1 BLK)
DE Demetrius Williams, Sr.
LB Hugh Kirwan, Sr.
LB Mike Kagafas, Sr. (56 TT, 6.5 TFL, 2 sacks, 2 PBU, 3 QBH, 1 FR, 1 FF)
LB Paul Sakowski, Sr. (62 TT, 6 TFL, 3 sacks, 2 QBH, 1 FR)
S Zach Adler, Sr. (30 TT, 4 TFL, 2 sacks, 5 INT, 5 PBU, 1 QBH, 1 FR)
S Connor Mathias, Sr.
S Matt Semelsberger, Sr. (31 TT, 1.5 TFL)
CB Zach Quarles, Jr.
CB Cameron Gibson, So.
PK/P Mike Maccarone, So. (16 punts, 40.2 ypp)
OUTLOOK: Marist may have a bit of a challenge replacing QB Looney, who started for the Red Foxes the past two seasons and was the only true freshman quarterback to ever take snaps in Parady's 22 seasons as head coach. It's an open competition for the job, but whichever player earns it should be able to maintain some success with the talent returning at the receiver and running back spots. Marist retains RB Lucas, who scored 11 times on the ground in 2013, and Onakoya, who served as a nice change-of-pace back to Lucas. WR Martin returns as a fifth-year senior after setting the program record with 12 receiving touchdowns in 2013, and the Tralli brothers are back as well. There's a big hole on the offensive line after three starters left to graduation, including Celestin, an All-PFL first-team member. DL Fede was a draft pick to the Miami Dolphins, so much of the backfield disruption leaves with him. DE Moore will have to take over as the go-to pass rusher. The Red Foxes only play four games on the road all season, and just one to a higher- ranked PFL squad in Drake.
Aug. 30 - at Sacred Heart
Sept. 6 - Bucknell
Sept. 13 - Georgetown
Sept. 20 - at Drake
Sept. 27 - San Diego
Oct. 4 - at Valparaiso
Oct. 11 - Dayton
Oct. 25 - Campbell
Nov. 1 - Jacksonville
Nov. 8 - at Stetson
Nov. 15 - Davidson
7. MOREHEAD STATE EAGLES
LOCATION: Morehead, Kentucky
STADIUM: Jayne Stadium
COACH: Rob Tenyer (3-9 in one season at Morehead State)
LAST SEASON: 3-9 overall, 3-5 PFL (Tie/7th)
STARTERS RETURNING: 17 (11 offense/6 defense)
BIG LOSSES: WR Mason Rutherford (38 receptions, 396 yards, 3 TD); DL Aaron Meadows (43 TT, 8 TFL, 5 sacks, 3 QBH); DL Corey McSweeney (38 TT, 8 TFL, 3.5 sacks, 1 PBU, 1 FF); LB Nick McCune (42 TT, 1.5 TFL, 1 PBU, 1 FF); LB Jordan Hendrix (73 TT, 3 TFL, 1.5 sacks, 1 INT, 1 QBH, 1 FF); CB Steven Lester (58 TT, 2 TFL, 1 INT, 13 PBU, 1 FR, 1 BLK); S John Coleman (76 TT, 4.5 TFL, 3 PBU, 3 FF)
OFFENSIVE STAR: WR/RB Rees Macshara, Sr. (47 receptions, 270 yards, 1 TD; 131 carries, 534 yards, 4 TD)
DEFENSIVE STAR: DB Michael Jackson, Sr. (72 TT, 4 TFL, 3 INT, 7 PBU, 1 FR, 1 FF, 1 BLK)
OTHER KEY PLAYERS: QB Tyler Rice, Jr. (UT Martin transfer)
QB Austin Gahafer, So. (263-for-425, 2,430 yards, 13 TD, 12 INT)
RB Brandon Reeves, So. (72 carries, 455 yards, 1 TD)
RB Bilal Williamson, So.
WR Kitaro Lewis, Sr. (49 receptions, 529 yards, 3 TD)
Slot Jake Raymond, So. (56 receptions, 644 yards, 2 TD)
Slot/KR Cyrus Strahm, Sr. (45 receptions, 344 yards)
Slot/RS Brandon Bornhauser, Sr. (26.7-yard KO return average)
OL Joshua Brunner, Sr.
OL Alex Hey, Jr.
DL Ronald Cooper, Jr. (53 TT, 11 TFL, 6.5 sacks, 2 QBH, 1 FR)
DL Austin Hollingsworth, Jr. (26 TT, 6 TFL, 2 sacks, 4 QBH, 1 FF)
DL Justin Cox, Sr.
DL Rob Lewis, Sr. (35 TT, 3 TFL, 1.5 sacks, 1 QBH)
LB Matthew Brewer, So. (46 TT, 2 TFL, 1 PBU)
LB Ryan Bennett, So. (50 TT, 2 TFL, 1 FF)
LB Luke Keller, Jr.
S Dominic Iori, So. (39 TT, 1 PBU, 1 FF)
CB Justin Grier, Jr. (47 TT, 3 TFL, 3 PBU)
PK Luke Boyd, Sr. (9-of-13 FG, 57 points)
OUTLOOK: Morehead State gets all 11 starters back offensively from a year ago, which on paper seems great, until you learn the Eagles ranked ninth in the PFL in scoring offense (22.8 ppg) and eighth in total offense (368.6 ypg). QB Rice transfers in from UT Martin and has battled for the starting job against Gahafer, who was last season's primary starter. Gahafer has taken the reps with the first-team offense in training camp. Macshara was a threat in both the running and receiving games, and returns for his senior season after accumulating five total touchdowns in 2013. The defense only returns six starters, but has a strong supporting cast up front with DL Cooper and Hollingsworth returning. The secondary is where the Eagles might get burned after losing Lester (13 pass breakups) and Coleman. MSU was last in the PFL in 2013 in scoring defense, allowing 46.3 ppg to opponents. That has to change this season for the Eagles, who face a relatively tough non-conference slate with the CAA's Richmond, OVC's Eastern Kentucky and transitioning FCS-to-FBS program Charlotte on the schedule.
Aug. 30 - at Richmond
Sept. 6 - Pikeville
Sept. 13 - at Eastern Kentucky
Sept. 20 - at Davidson
Oct. 4 - Campbell
Oct. 11 - Jacksonville
Oct. 18 - at Dayton
Oct. 25 - Valparaiso
Nov. 1 - at Butler
Nov. 8 - at San Diego
Nov. 15 - Stetson
Nov. 22 - at Charlotte
8. CAMPBELL FIGHTING CAMELS
LOCATION: Buies Creek, North Carolina
STADIUM: Barker-Lane Stadium
COACH: Mike Minter (3-9 in first season at Campbell)
LAST SEASON: 3-9 overall, 2-6 PFL (8th)
STARTERS RETURNING: N/A
BIG LOSSES: QB Brian Hudson (183-for-303, 2,184 yards, 15 TD, 11 INT; 183 carries, 884 yards, 8 TD); FB Kurt Odom (101 carries, 537 yards, 3 TD; 35 receptions, 370 yards, 3 TD); WR/KR Jonathan Rogers (28.3-yard KO return average, 2 TD); DL Taurean Lynch (42 TT, 5 TFL, 2 QBH, 1 FR)
OFFENSIVE STAR: QB Dakota Wolf, Sr. (19-for-26, 158 yards, 1 TD; 22 carries, 126 yards, 2 TD)
DEFENSIVE STAR: DE Ugonna Awuruonye, Jr. (44 TT, 14 TFL, 7 sacks, 1 PBU, 1 QBH, 1 FR, 1 FF)
OTHER KEY PLAYERS: QB David Salmon, R-Fr.
RB Keith Goss, So. (94 carries, 461 yards, 5 TD)
RB DeShawn Jones, So. (62 carries, 517 yards, 2 TD)
FB Dalton Dillon, Jr.
WR Ben Bolling, Jr. (31 receptions, 489 yards, 5 TD)
WR Jabri Ridenhour, Sr. (35 receptions, 385 yards, 1 TD)
WR/PR Jordan Hildreth, Sr. (25 receptions, 343 yards, 3 TD; 12.8-yard punt return average, 1 TD)
LT Dylan McSteen, Jr.
LG Will Sawyer, Sr.
C Dalton Brown, Sr.
RG Jacob Brewer, Jr.
RT Laurin O'Briant, Jr.
DE Isaac Scott, Sr. (49 TT, 9.5 TFL, 7 sacks, 5 QBH, 2 FF)
DT Lucas Smith, Jr. (40 TT, 3 sacks, 1 FF, 2 BLK)
DT Markus Hendrix, So.
LB Matt Farris, Sr. (77 TT, 4.5 TFL, 1 INT, 2 PBU, 1 FF)
CB Aaron Nichols, Jr. (35 TT, 2 INT, 6 PBU, 1 FR)
DB Jaylan Adlam, Jr. (44 TT, 2 PBU, 1 FR)
DB Nick Drew, Jr. (40 TT, 1.5 TFL, 3 PBU, 1 FR)
DB Marcus Maynard, So. (36 TT, 1 INT, 6 PBU, 1 FR)
PK Adam Lutz, Sr.
OUTLOOK: Minter said in a preseason media call that he's a lot calmer now than he was entering his first season at the helm of Campbell's football program. Understandably so. But that feeling may fade when it's time for kickoff and he takes a good look at Campbell's schedule. The Camels open with transitioning FBS program Charlotte at home, then have to face new Sun Belt member Appalachian State and Big South contender Charleston Southern to round out the first three weeks. Throw in road games against Marist, Jacksonville and Dayton, and it's one tough slate. Although QB Hudson is gone, Minter said he feels good about Wolf in under center, especially with weapons in Goss, Bolling and Hildreth. The offensive line will certainly be a strength in helping out a unit that averaged 233.3 rushing ypg last season. Defensively, the Camels retain a healthy number of experienced players in the secondary, which will hopefully help lower the 263.6 passing ypg allowed in 2013. Campbell should be able to improve from its two-win PFL season a year ago, but there's still plenty of work and development that needs to be done to turn the program into a contender.
Aug. 28 - Charlotte
Sept. 6 - at Appalachian State
Sept. 13 - at Charleston Southern
Sept. 27 - Valparaiso
Oct. 4 - at Morehead State
Oct. 11 - Butler
Oct 18 - Davidson
Oct. 25 - at Marist
Nov. 1 - Stetson
Nov. 8 - Missouri Baptist
Nov. 15 - at Jacksonville
Nov. 22 - at Dayton
9. STETSON HATTERS
LOCATION: DeLand, Florida
STADIUM: Spec Martin Memorial Stadium
COACH: Roger Hughes (2-9 in one season at Stetson; 49-61 overall)
LAST SEASON: 2-9 overall, 1-7 PFL (Tie/9th)
STARTERS RETURNING: 21 (11 offense/10 defense)
BIG LOSS: DE Morris Eguakun (15 TT, 1 TFL, 1 PBU)
OFFENSIVE STAR: QB Ryan Tentler, So. (166-for-272, 1,774 yards, 12 TD, 9 INT; 105 carries, 375 yards, 3 TD)
DEFENSIVE STAR: S Donald Payne, So. (113 TT, 16 TFL, 4.5 sacks, 2 INT, 11 PBU, 3 FR, 3 FF, 2 BLK)
OTHER KEY PLAYERS: RB Jerami Singleton, So. (69 carries, 168 yards)
RB Cole Mazza, So.
RB Mike Yonker, So.
WR Rob Coggin, So. (30 receptions, 335 yards, 4 TD)
WR/PR Chris Crawford, So. (33 receptions, 332 yards, 1 TD)
WR/KR Darius McGriff, So. (28 receptions, 382 yards, 1 TD)
OL Fletcher Eldemire, Jr.
OL Patrick Fogarty, So.
OL Matt Wawrzyniak, So.
DE Davion Belk, So. (58 TT, 9.5 TFL, 3 sacks, 1 BLK)
NT Billy Walsh, So. (29 TT, 4.5 TFL, 1 FR)
LB Dave Lazear, So. (60 TT, 8 TFL, 4 sacks, 2 QBH)
LB Ignacio Madrid, So. (39 TT, 3 TFL, 1 PBU)
DB Chris Atkins, So. (39 TT, 6 INT, 8 PBU, 1 FR)
DB Ryan Powers, So. (77 TT, 2 TFL, 2 INT, 9 PBU, 1 QBH, 1 FF, 1 BLK)
DB Zach Dyer, So. (61 TT, 8 TFL, 3 PBU, 8 QBH, 1 FR)
PK/P James LaGamma, So. (6-of-13 FG, 40 points; 73 punts, 38.7 ypp)
OUTLOOK: As far as start-up programs go, Stetson was able to win a couple games and get some young players valuable playing experience in the team's first season a year ago. But now that one full season is in the books, the Hatters and their coaching staff will be expected to take a few more steps forward in 2014. The Hatters had some trouble getting pieces to flow together offensively, which showed in the team's 17.7 points per game. The running game needs to improve (it averaged three yards per rush in 2013), which will in turn help the passing game. QB Tentler took over the reins as the go-to signal caller after a few contests and will be counted on during his sophomore season. Defensively, the linemen have to do a better job of holding blockers off the linebackers. Too often, opposing running backs didn't hit first contact until they were already in the secondary (teams averaged 230.5 rushing ypg against Stetson last season). It's still a learning year for Hughes and his coaching staff, but there needs to be visible steps forward in the upcoming season. With a more experienced lineup that largely consists of sophomores instead of freshmen this year, Stetson should have no trouble continuing to build on the new program.
Aug. 30 - at Warner
Sept. 6 - Florida Tech
Sept. 13 - Mercer
Sept. 20 - at Birmingham Southern
Oct. 4 - Butler
Oct. 11 - at San Diego
Oct. 18 - Jacksonville
Oct. 25 - at Davidson
Nov. 1 - at Campbell
Nov. 8 - Marist
Nov. 15 - at Morehead State
Nov. 22 - Drake
10. VALPARAISO CRUSADERS
LOCATION: Valparaiso, Indiana
STADIUM: Brown Field
COACH: Dave Cecchini (first season)
LAST SEASON: 1-10 overall, 1-7 PFL (Tie/9th)
STARTERS RETURNING: 16 (9 offense/7 defense)
BIG LOSSES: QB Eric Hoffman (252-for-405, 2,976 yards, 22 TD, 10 INT); DL Jonathan "Bama" Powell (32 TT, 1.5 sacks, 1 PBU); LB Patrick Derbak (102 TT, 9 TFL, 1 INT, 1 PBU, 1 QBH, 2 FF, 1 BLK); LB Francis Baker Jr. (55 TT, 4 TFL, 1.5 sacks, 1 QBH); DB Alex Grask (55 TT, 1.5 TFL, 2 INT, 2 PBU, 1 FR, 1 BLK); DB Alan Porter Jr. (38 TT, 4 PBU, 1 FR, 1 BLK)
OFFENSIVE STAR: RB Jake Hutson, Jr. (76 carries, 313 yards, 4 TD; injured last season)
DEFENSIVE STAR: DL John Guilford, Jr. (49 TT, 8.5 TFL, 6 sacks, 2 PBU, 4 QBH, 1 FR, 2 BLK)
OTHER KEY PLAYERS: QB Dalton Stokes, Fr.
QB Conner Smith, Fr.
QB Ryan Clarke, Fr.
RB Brandon Hall, Jr. (89 carries, 341 yards, 2 TD)
RB/KR Grayson Bastin, So.
WR Tanner Kuramata, Sr. (56 receptions, 879 yards, 8 TD)
WR/RS Andrew Cassara, Sr. (58 receptions, 539 yards, 3 TD)
WR Tony Taibi, Sr. (22 receptions, 133 yards, 1 TD)
WR Fred Gladney, Sr. (32 receptions, 515 yards, 5 TD; injured last season),
OL Stuart Barkley, Sr.
DL Brandon Doepke, So. (38 TT, 4.5 TFL, 1.5 sacks, 2 PBU, 1 QBH, 1 FR)
LB Ryan Mundy, Sr. (63 TT, 4 TFL, 2 sacks, 1 INT, 1 PBU, 1 FR)
LB Alex Green, Jr. (110 TT, 4.5 TFL, 1 PBU, 1 QBH)
DB Cody Cotton, Jr. (44 TT, 2 FF)
DB Devan Gadson, Sr.
DB Melvin Graham III, Jr. (45 TT, 1.5 TFL, 2 INT, 1 PBU, 1 FR, 1 FF)
DB Dale Cook, Sr. (48 TT, 1.5 TFL, 1 INT, 4 PBU, 1 FR, 1 BLK)
OUTLOOK: Valparaiso is hoping the new coach, Cecchini, can come in and help solve some of the problems that plagued the Crusaders in 2013, namely plugging holes on the defensive side of the ball. The team was second-to-last in the PFL last season in both scoring defense (44.9 ppg allowed) and total defense (506.5 ypg allowed). That's priority No. 1, while No. 1A is selecting a viable replacement for QB Hoffman. The good news for Valpo is that RB Hutson is back after only playing in four games last season. In those four contests in which he competed before injury, Hutson ran for 313 yards and four touchdowns and also caught 16 passes for 106 yards. If he can remain healthy, he'll be a big boost for an offense that averaged 20.8 points per game in 2013. The receiving corps also is bolstered by the return of several contributors in Kuramata, Cassara and Gladney, who returns from an injury that cut his season short. The Crusaders open their season with a visit to the Missouri Valley Conference's Western Illinois, then will take on sub-division opponents St. Joseph's (Indiana) and William Jewell in the first few weeks. The conference slate is a mix for Valpo, which takes on Marist, Drake and Butler at home, but must battle San Diego and Dayton on the road. Having to take on Dayton, Butler and San Diego in consecutive weeks will wear any team down. It will be another building year for the Crusaders.
Aug. 28 - at Western Illinois
Sept. 6 - St. Joseph's (Indiana)
Sept. 20 - at William Jewell
Sept. 27 - at Campbell
Oct. 4 - Marist
Oct. 11 - Missouri Baptist
Oct. 18 - Drake
Oct 25 - at Morehead State
Nov. 1 - at Dayton
Nov. 8 - Butler
Nov. 15 - at San Diego
Nov. 22 - Davidson
11. DAVIDSON WILDCATS
LOCATION: Davidson, North Carolina
STADIUM: Richardson Stadium
COACH: Paul Nichols (0-11 in one season at Davidson)
LAST SEASON: 0-11 overall, 0-8 PFL (11th)
STARTERS RETURNING: 15 (7 offense/8 defense)
BIG LOSSES: QB Jonathan Carkhuff (177-for-332 yards, 2,266 yards, 9 TD, 4 INT); RB/KR Robert Klein (113 carries, 439 yards, 1 TD); WR Jeff McDaniels (37 carries, 428 yards, 3 TD); WR Garrett Diehl (30 receptions, 274 yards); DL Jake Hall (30 TT, 1 TFL); LB Ben Prater (42 TT)
OFFENSIVE STAR: WR William Morris, Jr. (67 carries, 1,090 yards, 5 TD)
DEFENSIVE STAR: LB Matt Casey, Sr. (106 TT, 2.5 sacks, 1 INT, 1 PBU, 1 QBH)
OTHER KEY PLAYERS: QB John Cook, So. (6-for-13, 40 yards; 27 carries, 111 yards, 1 TD)
QB J.P. Douglas, Sr. (27-for-42, 246 yards, 3 TD, 4 INT)
RB David Rogers, Jr. (66 carries, 373 yards, 3 TD)
WR Tim Hines, Sr.
OL Caleb Krause, Jr.
OL Nelson White, Sr.
DL Chris Woods, Jr. (43 TT, 4 TFL, 2 sacks, 2 PBU, 1 QBH)
LB Dan Casey, Sr. (66 TT, 10 TFL, 4 sacks, 3 PBU, 1 FR)
LB Ricky Tkac, Jr. (47 TT, 1 QBH, 1 FR, 1 FF)
LB James Gessner, So. (30 TT, 2 TFL, 1 QBH)
LB Nate Casey, So. (24 TT, 4.5 TFL, 1 PBU)
DB Ryan Leak, So. (43 TT, 2.5 TFL, 1 INT, 2 PBU)
DB Bryant Bednarek, Sr. (64 TT, 1.5 TFL, 1 INT, 2 PBU, 1 FR)
DB Colin Merrill, Sr. (49 TT, 1.5 TFL, 1 INT, 3 PBU, 2 BLK)
DB Myles Atkins, Jr. (66 TT, 2 INT, 3 PBU)
OUTLOOK: Not only did Davidson suffer through a winless season in 2013, but the Wildcats were hit with a second crushing blow following the culmination of the season - QB Carkhuff graduated. He's been the leading offensive player for seasons now, but Davidson will have to move on. Fortunately, it won't all be too unfamiliar as WR Morris gets set for his junior season after surpassing the 1,000-yard receiving mark in 2013. The Wildcats, though, averaged just two touchdowns a game last year (14 ppg), so they'll need to find an offensive generator. Not to mention the kicking game must improve after not hitting a field goal all season long, and going 2-for-6 on extra points in 2013. Davidson has a young group of linebackers that all produced last season, and some contributors in the secondary who will make an impact. With a non-conference schedule that includes programs like College of Faith, Catawba and VMI, the Wildcats should be improved. Granted there's only once place for the team to go this season, and that's upward.
Aug. 30 - College of Faith
Sept. 6 - Catawba
Sept. 13 - at VMI
Sept. 20 - Morehead State
Sept. 27 - at Princeton
Oct. 4 - Dayton
Oct. 11 - at Drake
Oct. 18 - at Campbell
Oct. 25 - Stetson
Nov. 8 - Jacksonville
Nov. 15 - at Marist
Nov. 22 - at Valparaiso
08/24 07:38:43 ET