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In the FCS Huddle: 2014 Patriot League Preview

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Updated: 8/23 4:10 am

Georgetown also underwent a head coaching change in the offseason, and, like Colgate, its Patriot League programs has continuity leading into the 2014 season. The Hoyas elevated assistant Rob Sgarlata to head coach after he served for 18 seasons as an assistant coach - the last nine under Kevin Kelly.

"Knowing both of those guys, I think it's going to work out very well for both of those schools because they're both really good coaches," Holy Cross coach Tom Gilmore said. "They're both guys who know the league and understand their schools."

Both programs are coming off a losing season - Colgate 4-8 overall but 3-2 in the league, and Georgetown 2-9 and 1-4. Such a season is unaccustomed for a Colgate program that won seven Patriot League titles while Hunt was an assistant coach. Georgetown, though, has yet to win a title or have much success since joining the league in 2001.

Still, both Hunt and Sgarlata enter their new positions with optimistic feelings. Their players are energized by the positive direction of their program, and nobody faces the unfamiliar feeling often caused by a new coach coming in from the outside.

"The last piece of advice Coach Biddle gave to me was, 'Be yourself,'" Hunt said.

"But I've been fortunate to have been at Colgate so long, kind of to see how he did things, kind of see what he felt was important to be successful, (what) has definitely helped him. And also to understand Colgate and, obviously, the Patriot League. I think this is a very unique league for a lot of reasons and I think Colgate is a unique place. And to have that experience there has certainly helped. Certainly, I know I've got big shoes to fill.

"I've always said the message isn't going to change. I'm just going to deliver it a little different. I've changed some things in the offseason, and some of it is just so they know, hey, this is different. But also without sacrificing the core beliefs of what we believe in at Colgate and how we believe to win. I don't want to change for change sakes. I'm going to have to decide what I feel's important."

Sgarlata also valued what he has learned at Georgetown. He, too will keep a lot of the old philosophies while also putting his stamp on the program.

His Hoyas program is the only one of the seven Patriot football programs not to offer athletic scholarships, so he will have to do more with less.

"Kevin Kelly's years at Georgetown, I think the work he did there was grossly underestimated, to be honest with you," Sgarlata said.

"The thing Coach installed in us was we are a tough football team, well organized, a disciplined football team. That's something that you want to make sure that you continue to impose."

Fordham heads into the season as the favorite in the Patriot League race. It's the first time the Rams have been eligible for the league title since 2009.

Lafayette was the champion last season.

Following is a team-by-team breakdown of the 2014 Patriot League race.

The Sports Network's predicted order of finish:

1. Fordham

2. Lafayette

3. Lehigh

4. Colgate

5. Holy Cross

6. Bucknell

7. Georgetown

Team-by-team capsules:

1. FORDHAM RAMS

LOCATION: Bronx, New York

STADIUM: Coffey Field

COACH: Joe Moorhead (18-7 in two seasons at Fordham)

LAST SEASON: 12-2 overall; ineligible Patriot; No. 9 TSN final ranking

STARTERS RETURNING: 16 (8 offense/8 defense)

BIG LOSSES: RB Carlton Koonce (307 carries, 1,462 yards, 9 TD; 41 receptions, 276 yards, 2 TD); OL Tom Fisher; LB Jake Rodriquez (65 TT, 3.5 TFL, 2 sacks, 2 INT, 2 PBU, 9 QBH, 2 FF)

OFFENSIVE STAR: QB Michael Nebrich, Sr. (353-for-480, 4,380 yards, 35 TD, 7 INT)

DEFENSIVE STAR: LB Stephen Hodge, Sr. (124 TT, 16 TFL, 5 sacks, 1 INT, 5 PBU, 4 QBH, 3 FR, 5 FF)

OTHER KEY PLAYERS: QB Peter Maetzold, Sr.

RB Kendall Pearcey, So.

WR Sam Ajala, Sr. (93 receptions, 1,646 yards, 14 TD)

WR Tebucky Jones, Sr. (85 receptions, 1,154 yards, 5 TD)

WR/PR Brian Wetzel, Sr. (89 receptions, 1,094 yards, 14 TD; 12-yard punt return average, 1 TD)

WR/KR Jorge Solano, So. (21.1-yard KO return average, 1 TD)

TE Dan Light, Sr. (66 receptions, 588 yards, 2 TD)

OL Mason Halter, Sr.

OL Garrick Mayweather, Jr.

OL Joe Mizera, Sr.

DL Brett Biestek, Grad (58 TT, 14.5 TFL, 7 sacks, 4 PBU, 5 QBH, 3 FR, 1 FF, 1 BLK)

DL DeAndre Slate, Sr. (49 TT, 14.5 TFL, 7 sacks, 1 PBU, 1 QBH, 2 FF)

DL Nick Merino, Sr.

DL Jared Adeyeye, So.

DT Josh Klecko, So. (Rutgers transfer)

LB Austin Hancock, Sr. (80 TT, 2 TFL, 1 INT, 2 PBU, 2 QBH)

LB Victor DiFusco, Sr. (31 TT, 4.5 TFL, 1 QBH, 1 FR, 2 FF)

DB Jordan Chapman, Sr. (64 TT, 2 TFL, 5 INT, 11 PBU, 2 FR, 1 BLK)

DB Jake Dixon, Sr. (64 TT, 3 TFL, 1 INT, 3 PBU, 1 FR, 1 FF)

DB Ian Williams, Sr. (86 TT, 2 sacks, 4 INT, 15 PBU, 1 QBH, 2 FF, 1 BLK)

DB Levon Williams, Sr. (79 TT, 5 INT, 2 PBU, 2 FR, 1 FF)

DB J.Q. Bowers, Jr.

PK Michael Marando, Sr. (19-of-26 FG, 120 points)

P Joe Pavlik, So.

OUTLOOK: The talk of national title contention is legitimate. The Rams have a senior-laden, star-studded lineup to make a run at the Patriot League title (after four seasons of scholarship ineligibility) and advancing past the second round of the playoffs, which they reached last season before falling to Towson. The passing attack will be dizzying for opponents. Nebrich, who completed 73.5 percent of his passes and didn't play in the Rams' only loss in the regular season (Lafayette), leads an offense that averaged 515.3 yards and 37.6 points per game. He has the most accomplished returning set of receivers (Ajala, Jones, Wetzel and TE Light) in the FCS. Granted, the loss of RB Koonce is huge, but the Rams will still punish defenses. On defense, an incredible 15 of last year's top 16 tacklers return. Slate and Biestek apply good pressure up front, allowing All-American LB Hodge to roam all over the field and a veteran secondary (led by Ian Williams) to pick off passes. Marando also is among the best place-kickers in the FCS. The schedule is manageable, although Villanova will want revenge for a loss last season and a trip to Army will be a contrast of offensive styles. There's little reason the Rams can't go unbeaten in league play.

SCHEDULE:

Aug. 30 - Saint Francis (Pa.)

Sept. 6 - at Villanova

Sept. 13 - Rhode Island

Sept. 20 - at Columbia

Sept. 27 - at Holy Cross

Oct. 4 - Lafayette

Oct. 11 - Penn

Oct. 25 - at Lehigh

Nov. 1 - Colgate

Nov. 8 - at Bucknell

Nov. 15 - Georgetown

Nov. 22 - at Army

2. LAFAYETTE LEOPARDS

LOCATION: Easton, Pennsylvania

STADIUM: Fisher Stadium

COACH: Frank Tavani (76-83 in 14 seasons at Lafayette)

LAST SEASON: 5-7 overall, 4-1 Patriot (1st)

STARTERS RETURNING: 11 (6 offense/5 defense)

BIG LOSSES: WR Mark Ross (74 receptions, 1,078 yards, 8 TD); FB Greg Kessel (46 carries, 191 yards); TE Brandon Hall; MLB Mike Boles (84 TT, 4.5 TFL, 1 PBU, 2 QBH, 1 FR, 1 FF); OLB Tyler Robinson (65 TT, 6.5 TFL, 1 INT, 1 PBU, 1 QBH, 1 FR, 1 FF); OLB Ben Aloi (40 TT, 7 TFL, 1 PBU, 3 QBH, 1 FR, 1 FF); CB DeOliver Davis (38 TT, 2 INT, 7 PBU)

OFFENSIVE STAR: TB/KR Ross Scheuerman, Sr. (218 carries, 1,113 yards, 14 TD; 31 receptions, 337 yards, 4 TD; 24.7-yard KO return average)

DEFENSIVE STAR: CB/KR Matt Smalley, Jr. (63 TT, 3 TFL, 2 sacks, 5 INT, 8 PBU, 1 BLK; 29.6-yard KO return average, 2 TD)

OTHER KEY PLAYERS: QB Drew Reed, So. (132-for-182, 1,887 yards, 17 TD, 5 INT)

TB Adin Greenfield, So.

TB Kyle Mayfield, So.

FB Dan Dellovade, Jr.

WR Demetrius Dixon, Sr. (35 receptions, 405 yards, 3 TD)

WR Mike Duncan, Sr. (29 receptions, 346 yards, 4 TD)

WR/PR Justin Adams, Sr. (27 receptions, 342 yards, 1 TD)

LT Luke Chiarolanzio, Sr.

OG Max Ngolla, Sr.

C Zack Mazur, Sr.

DE James Coscia, Sr. (49 TT, 6 TFL, 2 sacks, 3 QBH, 1 FR)

DT Steve Mercado, Jr. (34 TT, 7.5 TFL, 4.5 sacks, 2 FF)

DT Matt Rothrock, So.

DL Andy Labudev, So.

LB Mark Dodd, Jr.

LB Dennis Bencsko, Jr.

LB Chris Brockman, Jr.

LB/DB Dion King, Sr.

FS Shane Black, Sr.

SS Jared Roberts, Sr. (59 TT, 3.5 TFL, 3 INT, 6 PBU, 1 QBH, 1 FF)

PK Ryan Gralish, Jr. (9-of-11 FG, 64 points)

OUTLOOK: In winning an outright Patriot title last season, the Leopards became the first team in history to enter the FCS playoffs with a losing record (they were 5-6 before falling to New Hampshire). A solid nucleus returns this season, but the Leopards might have to win at Fordham to pull off another playoff bid. They feature one of the better all-purpose players in the nation in Scheuerman (4,478 career all-purpose yards), who has made the all-league second team in each of his first three seasons. He will be a marked man by opposing defenses, so fast-rising QB Reed (MVP of the Lehigh game) and a veteran offensive line will look to take pressure off Scheuerman. The biggest loss is Ross, the Leopards' all-time leading receiver. WRs Dixon, Adams and Duncan will try to compensate for the loss as a trio. Last year's three starters at linebacker departed and senior Matt Gill is injured, so there are concerns at the position. The secondary is strong behind the return of CB Smalley and SS Roberts. DE Coscia is returning for his third season as a starter and DT Mercado wreaks havoc as well. The road schedule is particularly daunting as only two of the Leopards' league games are in Easton. Tavani made it a point with his players in the offseason to put last year's title behind them. This is still a solid team, but the tough slate might be too hard to overcome this season.

SCHEDULE:

Sept. 6 - at Sacred Heart

Sept. 13 - Robert Morris

Sept. 20 - at William & Mary

Sept. 27 - Wagner

Oct. 4 - at Fordham

Oct. 11 - Georgetown

Oct. 18 - at Harvard

Oct. 25 - Holy Cross

Nov. 1 - at Bucknell

Nov. 8 - at Colgate

Nov. 22 - Lehigh (at New York)

3. LEHIGH MOUNTAIN HAWKS

LOCATION: Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

STADIUM: Goodman Stadium

COACH: Andy Coen (59-33 in eight seasons at Lehigh)

LAST SEASON: 8-3 overall, 3-2 Patriot (Tie/2nd)

STARTERS RETURNING: 9 (4 offense/5 defense)

BIG LOSSES: QB Brandon Bialkowski (216-for-337, 2,647 yards, 18 TD, 10 INT); RB/KR Keith Sherman 176 carries, 1,064 yards, 8 TD); FB Sean Farrell (53 carries, 191 yards, 10 TD); WR Lee Kurfis (99 receptions, 1,351 yards, 9 TD); C Matt Lippincott; LB Nigel Muhammad (59 TT, 5 TFL, 2 sacks, 1 INT, 3 QBH); S Tyler Ward (98 TT, 3.5 TFL, 2 INT, 5 PBU, 1 FF); P Tim Divers (39 punts, 41.2 ypp)

OFFENSIVE STAR: LT Ned Daryoush, Sr.

DEFENSIVE STAR: DE Tim Newton, Sr. (58 TT, 8.5 TFL, 5.5 sacks, 1 PBU, 2 QBH, 1 FR)

OTHER KEY PLAYERS: QB Matt McHale, Sr. (26-for-49, 205 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT; 38 carries, 158 yards, 1 TD)

QB Nick Shafnisky, So. (25-for-44, 326 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT; 28 carries, 109 yards, 1 TD)

RB Brandon Yosha, So. (Miami-Florida transfer)

RB Rich Sodeke, Sr.

WR/PR Josh Parris, Sr. (41 receptions, 443 yards, 2 TD; 8.4-yard punt return average)

WR Derek Knott, Jr.

WR Derek Gaul, Sr.

TE Tyler Coyle, Sr. (21 receptions, 230 yards, 3 TD)

TE Dylan Colgate, Sr.

C Brandon Short, So.

OG Shane Rugg, Sr.

DL Arturo Gyles, Sr.

DL Greg Palma, Jr.

OLB Isaiah Campbell, Sr. (46 TT, 2.5 TFL, 1 INT, 4 PBU, 1 QBH, 1 FR)

OLB Pierce Ripanti, Jr.

OLB Matt Laub, Jr.

ILB Noah Robb, Jr. (55 TT, 5 TFL, 3 sacks, 1 INT, 2 QBH, 1 FF)

ILB Colton Caslow, So. (64 TT, 4.5 TFL, 3 sacks, 3 PBU, 2 QBH)

DB Olivier Rigaud, Jr.

DB/KR Brandon Leaks, So.

DB Stephen Wilmington, Sr.

CB Jason Suggs, Sr.

PK Ryan Pandy, So. (8-of-12 FG, 66 points)

OUTLOOK: Coen has his program at a solid level, but this season will test the recruiting that was done behind past starters. With only nine returning starters, the Mountain Hawks will feature a lot of new faces. It will be especially hard to replace the offensive losses. LT Daryoush is a standout, but the offensive line needs seasoning and it appears impossible to replace the Bialkowski/Sherman/Kurfis triumvirate. QB McHale is coming off offseason surgery, but Shafnisky performed admirably as a freshman last season. Miami transfer Yosha hopes his past knee injuries are behind him and he can be a big contributor at running back. At wide receiver, Parris will become the go-to option, while TE Coyle should have a larger role in the passing attack. The defense has to force more turnovers (11), which would cause a drop in the yards (437) and points (31) it allowed each game. DE Newton and a deep linebackers unit should help the Mountain Hawks improve against the run. The home/away breakdown in the league schedule appears favorable. What Coen is banking on is that the players in backup roles last year just needed an opportunity all along.

SCHEDULE:

Sept. 6 - James Madison

Sept. 13 - at New Hampshire

Sept. 20 - at Yale

Sept. 27 - Monmouth

Oct. 11 - Bucknell

Oct. 18 - at Cornell

Oct. 25 - Fordham

Nov. 1 - at Georgetown

Nov. 8 - at Holy Cross

Nov. 15 - Colgate

Nov. 22 - at Lafayette (at New York)

4. COLGATE RAIDERS

LOCATION: Hamilton, New York

STADIUM: Andy Kerr Stadium

COACH: Dan Hunt (first season)

LAST SEASON: 4-8 overall, 3-2 Patriot (Tie/2nd)

STARTERS RETURNING: 15 (8 offense/7 defense)

BIG LOSSES: QB Gavin McCarney (144-for-218, 1,661 yards, 10 TD, 7 INT; 101 carries, 627 yards, 3 TD); D. Russell (163 carries, 625 yards, 9 TD); WR Dan Cason (34 receptions, 496 yards, 2 TD); Vinny Russo (78 TT, 5.5 TFL, 2 sacks, 3 PBU, 1 FF); D. Diamond (74 TT, 2.5 TFL, 1 PBU, 1 FR); Austin Dier (47 TT, 6 TFL, 3.5 sacks, 2 PBU, 1 FR)

OFFENSIVE STAR: FB Ed Pavalko, Sr. (19 carries, 109 yards, 2 TD)

DEFENSIVE STAR: S Mike Armiento, Sr. (92 TT, 2.5 sacks, 6 INT, 8 PBU, 1 FR)

OTHER KEY PLAYERS: QB Jake Melville, So.

QB Dylan Finelli, Jr.

TB John Wilkins, Jr.

TB Demetrius Russell, Jr.

WR/KR Jimmy DeCicco, Sr. (14 receptions, 129 yards; 63 carries, 377 yards, 4 TD; 26.1-yard KO return average)

WR John Maddaluna, So.

TE Kevin O'Connell, Sr. (25 receptions, 337 yards, 2 TD)

TE John Quazza, Jr.

OL Jordi Dalmau, So.

DL Anto Almasian, Sr.

DL Charles Cairnie, So.

DL Victor Steffen, Jr. (44 TT, 7.5 TFL, 4 sacks, 1 PBU, 1 FF)

LB Cameron Buttermore, Jr. (49 TT, 1 INT, 1 PBU)

LB Kyle Diener, So.

LB Kris Kent, Sr. (91 TT, 11 TFL, 2 PBU, 2 QBH, 1 FF)

DB Adam Bridgeforth, Jr.

P Nikko Armiento (54 punts, 40.1 ypp)

OUTLOOK: After being a Colgate assistant coach for 19 seasons, Hunt takes over for Raiders legend Dick Biddle. Hunt won't make significant changes on offense, but the Raiders will go to a 3-4 defensive scheme in trying to reverse last year's unaccustomed losing record. They still expect to have a physical team that wears down opponents with their running game and defense, but both lines need improvement after last season's performance. The all-time leading rusher among Patriot League QBs (McCarney) is gone, leaving Melville with the top job, but he's only a sophomore. TB Wilkins was set for a banner campaign a year ago before suffering a season-ending knee injury. His work coupled with the blocking of FB Pavalko will be a difference maker for the Raiders. The usually stout defense hopes to get back on track and probably will with standouts in LBs Kent and Russo and S Mike Armiento. On special teams, Nick Armiento is a solid punter, but the Raiders kicked a mere two field goals on only three attempts last season. A quality non-conference schedule will toughen the Raiders for Patriot play, but the league schedule is interrupted for three straight weeks during October.

SCHEDULE:

Aug. 30 - at Ball State

Sept. 13 - at Delaware

Sept. 20 - Cornell

Sept. 27 - Georgetown

Oct. 4 - Holy Cross

Oct. 11 - Princeton

Oct. 18 - at Yale

Oct. 25 - at Albany

Nov. 1 - at Fordham

Nov. 8 - Lafayette

Nov. 15 - at Lehigh

Nov. 22 - at Bucknell

5. HOLY CROSS CRUSADERS

LOCATION: Worcester, Massachusetts

STADIUM: Fitton Field

COACH: Tom Gilmore (56-56 in 10 seasons at Holy Cross)

LAST SEASON: 3-9 overall, 1-4 Patriot (Tie/5th)

STARTERS RETURNING: 12 (7 offense/5 defense)

BIG LOSSES: WR Mike Fess (75 receptions, 893 yards, 9 TD); WR Nate Stanley (44 receptions, 474 yards, 3 TD); OT Kyle Pedretty; DE Gary Acquah (45 TT, 2 TFL, 1 FR, 1 FF); LB Roman SanDoval (80 TT, 2 TFL, 2 PBU, 1 FR); PK John Macomber (7-of-10 FG, 56 points)

OFFENSIVE STAR: QB Peter Pujals, So. (211-for-332, 2,261 yards, 19 TD, 8 INT; 136 carries, 469 yards, 8 TD)

DEFENSIVE STAR: SS Matt Bhaya, Jr. (71 TT, 2 TFL, 2 INT, 9 PBU, 1 FR)

OTHER KEY PLAYERS: TB Gabe Guild, So. (101 carries, 496 yards, 5 TD)

TB Brendan Flaherty, So.

FB Michael O'Dwyer, Sr.

WR/RS Kalif Raymond, Jr. (42 receptions, 400 yards, 3 TD; 21.1-yard KO return average)

WR/KR Jake Wieczorek, So.

C Jay Knighton, Sr.

LT Emmanuel Mendoza, Sr.

RT Blake Berresford, Sr.

RG Ryan Schnieber, Sr.

DT Mike Galantini, Jr. (25 TT, 3 TFL, 1 sack, 1 FR)

DE Dewayne Cameron, Jr.

DE Kobe Osei-Boaten, Jr.

LB Tyler Zeoli, Sr. (67 TT, 3 TFL, 2 INT, 1 PBU, 3 FF)

LB Kyle Young, So.

LB Chase Ullman, Sr.

LB John Zakrzewski, Jr.

CB Ben Coffaro, Sr. (49 TT, 2 INT, 4 PBU)

CB Dabness Atkins, Jr.

FS Sam Jones, Sr.

SS Logan Silver, Sr. (51 TT, 2 PBU)

OUTLOOK: Close isn't good enough with the Crusaders, who over the past two seasons are a combined 2-11 in games decided by seven points or less. Injuries plagued the team last season, which allowed eight freshmen to gain significant playing time, including QB Pujals, who was sensational while earning Patriot rookie of the year honors. He put up over 2,700 yards of total offense and 27 total touchdowns in 10 games. If needed, seniors Ryan Laughlin and Steve Elder return to back up Pujals. The Crusaders always churn out productive receivers and this season Raymond will build on his impressive career. TB Guild also is part of the young nucleus, so the offense will remain dangerous. The defense has a new coordinator in Mike Kashurba and returns its second-, third-, fourth- and fifth-leading tacklers, with DT Galantini among the best interior defensive linemen in the league. It will be hard, though, to replace do- everything kicker Macomber. The Crusaders have a good mix of classes and expect to win more of the close games, but the league is quite competitive.

SCHEDULE:

Aug. 30 - at Albany

Sept. 6 - Morgan State

Sept. 13 - Central Connecticut State

Sept. 19 - at Harvard

Sept. 27 - Fordham

Oct. 4 - at Colgate

Oct. 11 - at Brown

Oct. 18 - at Dartmouth

Oct. 25 - at Lafayette

Nov. 8 - Lehigh

Nov. 15 - Bucknell

Nov. 22 - at Georgetown

6. BUCKNELL BISON

LOCATION: Lewisburg, Pennsylvania

STADIUM: Christy Mathewson-Memorial Stadium

COACH: Joe Susan (16-28 in four seasons at Bucknell; 26-28 overall)

LAST SEASON: 6-5 overall, 3-2 Patriot (Tie/2nd)

STARTERS RETURNING: 17 (9 offense/8 defense)

BIG LOSSES: QB Brandon Wesley (110-for-178, 1,351 yards, 6 TD, 4 INT); FB Travis Friend; NT Tracey Smith (45 TT, 7 TFL, 5.5 sacks, 1 QBH, 1 FR, 2 FF)

OFFENSIVE STAR: RB C.J. Williams, So. (212 carries, 899 yards, 8 TD)

DEFENSIVE STAR: OLB Evan Byers, Sr. (129 TT, 10.5 TFL, 3.5 sacks, 4 PBU, 2 FR, 1 FF)

OTHER KEY PLAYERS: QB R.J. Nitti, So. (38-for-78, 371 yards, 4 TD, 5 INT)

QB Trey Lauletta, Sr.

RB Matt DelMauro, Jr. (92 carries, 487 yards, 3 TD)

WR Josh Brake, Sr. (33 receptions, 445 yards, 3 TD)

WR Bobby Kaslander, Jr. (24 receptions, 327 yards)

WR Will Carter, So.

WR Victor Walker, Sr.

LT Julie'n Davenport, So.

LG Lonnie Rawles, Sr.

C Ned Bent, So.

RG Nevin Hagman, Sr.

RT Ramy Kased, Jr.

DT Demetrius Baldwin-Youngblood, Sr. (45 TT, 11.5 TFL, 8 sacks, 3 PBU, 1 QBH, 1 FF)

DE Dylan McDonald, Sr.

NG Robert Naylor, Jr.

DE/DT Chase Watkins, Fr.

MLB Lee Marvel, Sr. (68 TT, 5 TFL, 1 INT, 3 PBU, 1 FR, 2 FF)

WS/PR Matthew Steinbeck, Sr. (64 TT, 2 TFL, 5 INT, 4 PBU, 1 FR)

FS Louis Taglianetti, Jr. (57 TT, 5 PBU, 2 FF)

SS Clayton Ewell, Jr. (61 TT, 12.5 TFL, 2 sacks, 2 INT, 7 PBU, 1 QBH)

OUTLOOK: Last season's 3-2 league record was the Bison's best since 2004. Considering they have had a winning overall mark in two of the last three seasons, Susan has the program moving upward. This is the season, though, they have been pointing toward because of the return of a veteran lineup. The big loss offensively is at quarterback as Wesley was a four-year starter. Nitti will take over and he gained valuable game action a year ago, including three starts. But the Bison will rely on their running game heavily with RBs Williams and DelMauro coming off strong campaigns and a huge offensive line perhaps being the team's biggest strength. Seven O-linemen return with starter's experience, led by Davenport and Rawles. NT Smith is the biggest loss on the other side of scrimmage, but the Bison return their top five tacklers from a defense that led the league in total defense and rushing defense for the third straight season. The linebackers are exceptional with All-American Byers (fourth nationally with 11.7 tackles per game) and Marvel, and athletic DT Baldwin-Youngblood and WS Steinbeck are preseason all-league selections.

SCHEDULE:

Aug. 30 - VMI

Sept. 6 - at Marist

Sept. 20 - at Sacred Heart

Sept. 27 - Cornell

Oct. 4 - at Bryant

Oct. 11 - at Lehigh

Oct. 25 - at Georgetown

Nov. 1 - Lafayette

Nov. 8 - Fordham

Nov. 15 - at Holy Cross

Nov. 22 - Colgate

7. GEORGETOWN HOYAS

LOCATION: Washington, D.C.

COACH: Rob Sgarlata (first season)

STADIUM: Multi-Sport Field

LAST SEASON: 2-9 overall, 1-4 Patriot (Tie/5th)

STARTERS RETURNING: 11 (6 offense/5 defense)

BIG LOSSES: QB Isaiah Kempf (109-for-191, 1,107 yards, 6 TD, 6 INT); RB Nick Campanella (131 carries, 565 yards, 6 TD); WR Zack Wilke (59 receptions, 668 yards, 2 TD); TE Daniel Sprotte (46 receptions, 441 yards, 4 TD); LB Dustin Wharton (66 TT, 5.5 TFL, 2.5 sacks, 2 INT, 5 QBH, 1 BLK); DB Stephen Atwater (51 TT, 1 INT, 2 PBU); PK/P Matt MacZura (6-of-8 FG, 43 points; 68 punts, 38.6 ypp)

OFFENSIVE STAR: QB Kyle Nolan, Jr. (118-for-195, 1,081 yards, 4 TD; 61 carries, 242 yards, 4 TD)

DEFENSIVE STAR: DE Alec May, Sr. (68 TT, 12 TFL, 7 sacks, 2 PBU, 5 QBH, 1 BLK)

OTHER KEY PLAYERS: RB Jo'el Kimpela, Jr. (60 carries, 222 yards, 3 TD)

RB Tyrell Williams, So.

WR Jake DeCicco, Jr. (38 receptions, 445 yards, 2 TD)

WR Justin Hill, So. (26 receptions, 265 yards)

OL Mike Roland, Sr.

OL Nick Quintans, Sr.

OL Kevin Liddy, Jr.

OL Michael Kasten, Sr.

DT Jordan Richardson, Sr. (52 TT, 12 TFL, 3 sacks, 2 PBU, 1 QBH, 1 FR, 2 BLK)

DL Richard Shankle, Sr. (50 TT, 9.5 TFL, 3 sacks, 3 QBH, 1 FF)

DL Michael Black, Sr.

DL Peter Daibes, Sr.

LB Hunter Kiselick, Jr.

LB Nick Alfieri, Sr. (92 TT, 7.5 TFL, 1.5 sacks, 1 INT, 1 PBU, 2 FF)

LB Patrick Boyle, Sr. (98 TT, 2.5 TFL, 1 INT, 1 PBU)

DB Cameron Gamble, Jr. (34 TT, 1 INT, 4 PBU, 1 FR)

DB Garrett Powers, Jr (33 TT, 2 FR)

DB Ettian Scott, Jr.

OUTLOOK: After Sgarlata spent 18 seasons as an assistant at his alma mater, he was named as Kevin Kelly's successor following the latter's departure to Ball State. Sgarlata needs his team to play disciplined football because the rest of the league continues to build scholarship classes and Georgetown is the lone holdout in that regard. Sgarlata has worked with the defense for over a decade and there is a good foundation there with DE May, DT Richardson and LB Alfieri in the front seven. The secondary is under the microscope because the Hoyas struggled to stop the pass last season. On offense, Nolan appeared to solve the quarterbacks carousel, providing efficient play last season. He has a solid offensive line and just needs the next step from some of the other skills position players such as RB Kimpela and WRs DeCicco and Hill. In a schedule oddity, the Hoyas play only one road game after Oct. 11.

SCHEDULE:

Aug. 30 - Wagner

Sept. 6 - at Dayton

Sept. 13 - at Marist

Sept. 20 - Brown

Sept. 27 - at Colgate

Oct. 4 - Harvard

Oct. 11 - at Lafayette

Oct. 25 - Bucknell

Nov. 1 - Lehigh

Nov. 15 - at Fordham

Nov. 22 - Holy Cross

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