Steveo’s Salvos – FCS Football preview

Six weeks from this Thursday, the college football season as well as’s season kicks off. On Thursday, September 1, our season starts off with a 7 pm kickoff when Delaware hosts Delaware State in the First State Bowl in a Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) rivalry. The Fighting Blue Hens, 4-7 a year ago, host their Intrastate rival DSU Hornets of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference who finished with a 1-10 record. The Hens and the Hornets will be two of at least seven FCS football teams we will see play during the 2016 season. The Hens under HC Dave Brock in his fourth season hope to get things turned around again in Newark to challenge for the Colonial Athletic on the running of Soph TB Thomas Jefferson (Passaic Tech, NJ) who averaged 80.9 yards on the ground last season. A supporting cast of eight all-league picks a season ago surround Jefferson, but will that be enough? The offense rated last in all of FCS football passing for only 67.1 yards a game.   The defense allowed 20.5 ppg and stalwarts DL Blaine Woodson and LB Charles Bell return to lead the defensive charge. As for their opponent, the Hornets best player is DL Gabriel Sherrod who was the one bright spot named to the all MEAC defense in 2015. The Hornets were one of four teams in their league that finished with one win each, all winning conference games. DSU defeated Howard, 32-31, in the last game of the season; Howard clubbed Savannah State, 55-9; Savannah State knocked off Florida A&M, 37-27; the FAMU Rattlers trounced DSU, 41-13. At least the bottom of the MEAC is competitive with one another…

UD fans are looking for a turnaround this season, or this could be their head coaches curtain call.

UD fans are looking for a turnaround this season, or this could be their head coaches curtain call.

We will see Fordham, preseason favorites to win the Patriot League face the Naval Academy in Annapolis. The Rams, 9-3, 5-1 a year ago will be guided by new HC Andrew Breiner. He replaces successful HC Mike Moorhead who is now the new offensive coordinator at Penn State. The success of Fordham relies on their running game led by TB Chase Edmonds. The junior returns as a two -year starter who has gained 3,486 yards and tallied 43 TDs. He averaged 137.3 yards per game in 2015. During his freshman year, we saw him carry the load for this improving FCS football program against Rhode Island, Bucknell, and New Hampshire. He’s the Patriot Leagues’ top NFL prospect. Against Navy, he will be challenged. The Mids return one starter on offense, but they will continue to churn out yardage with their triple option attack despite the graduation of QB Keenan Reynolds who ranked fifth in the Heisman balloting. His replacement, Tago Smith, filled in for him effectively during two games in 2014 and will lead the offense during his senior season. On defense, the Mids return seven starters. Last season, we watched this defense hold Marlon Mack of USF to only 39 yards of offense. He blistered the rest of the Bull opponents totaling 1,381 rushing yards a year ago. The loss to Navy was the only one during the Bulls’ last eight regular season games. Unstoppable runner? Unyielding defense? We shall see…

The Fordham O-line will have to be effective to get Chase Edmonds big runs against Navy's defense in their season opener.

The Fordham O-line will have to be effective to spring Chase Edmonds (22) for some big runs against Navy’s defense in their season opener.

On Saturday, October 22, between our Friday night game in Philly between Temple and USF and the 8 pm kickoff on Saturday at State College between Penn State and Ohio State, we plan to stop for our second game ever at Christy Mathewson Stadium in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania for a Patriot League game between Lafayette and host Bucknell. Bucknell 4-7 and 1-5 in the Patriot last year defeated the Leopards for their only PL win, 35-24. It was only one of two games all season in which the Bison scored more than 20 points. The Bucknell offense needs a lot of improvement this season under HC Joe Susan. His defense returns some top starters from a year ago. NG Ben Schumacher reordered 13.5 tackles for losses. Safety Bryan Marine made four INTs. Talk about improving on offense: Lafayette scored less than 10 points in seven of its first eight games a season ago. They may not fare much better this season with Villanova, Fordham, and Army on their slate before this game between two also-ran FCS football programs. The venue’s on the way to PSU, it’s a nice setting, and it could be pretty even match-up between two teams not expected to do much again this season. So the two teams are on our radar screen in what could be an inept but close battle to avoid the Patriot League basement…

We plan to return to Christy Mathewson Stadium at Bucknell to see the Bison host Lafayette before the Penn State-Ohio State game in Happy Valley at 8 pm.

We plan to return to Christy Mathewson Stadium  to see the Bison host Lafayette before the Penn State-Ohio State game in Happy Valley at 8 pm.

The University of San Diego Toreros, the preseason favorites to win the Pioneer League come east to visits Marist in a Pioneer league game. This will be’s first trip to see the Red Foxes play and our first to Poughkeepsie, NY. USD, coached by Jim Harbaugh before he moved on to Stanford, returns a triumvirate of offensive leaders from this team a year ago. QB Anthony Lawrence, RB Jereke Armstrong, and WR Brian Riley who had 44 receptions and eight TDs return from a 9-2 season playing for HC Dale Lindsey. The Toreros look to get a bid into this season’s FCS football playoffs.   Marist sports a 5-6 record from a year ago. HC Jim Parody’s squad looks for improvement on defense as LB/co-captain Jimmy Braun, Lenape Valley Regional (NJ) grad, and CB Cameron Gibson are being relied on for their leadership on the field to turn things around. Junior QB Mike White returns as does his favorite target Juston Christian who caught six TD passes among his 826 yards. We’ll be rooting for the upset in this game. USD won last season out on the left coast, 30-20…There’s a chance this year that we can add another FCS football game late in the year when we head out to the Bay Area for Stanford at Cal. Depending on the kickoff there, we may catch the Sacramento State at UC Davis game for our first Big Sky game ever. Evenly matched at 2-9 from a year ago, the UC-D Aggies beat the Hornets of SSU, 35-21. We may have another FBS option, but it will all depend on our featured game’s kickoff time in Berkeley…We were hoping for a Friday night game at Princeton to catch a game, but nothing looks possible for us now. If the Penn game gets scheduled in the evening, we may see that as our lone Ivy league game this season, but traditionally that’s been a day game…Charleston Southern (10-3) and champion of the Big South in 2015, will open the FCS football season on August 27 when they visit five-time defending FCS champ North Dakota State in Fargo. Two weeks later, they play at Florida State. Five weeks later, they host Bucknell – go figure! Last season, they ventured into the FBS to play eventual champ Alabama and lost, 55-6. HC Jamey Chadwell has the eyes of several major programs on him… Holy Cross and Fordham will finish their Patriot league season playing each other in Yankee Stadium this year on November 19…

In 2014, we attended the 150th meeting played between Lehigh and Lafayette when they played at Yankee Stadium.

In 2014, we attended the 150th meeting between Lehigh and Lafayette at Yankee Stadium.

The Howard Bison who finished 1-10 a season ago, must be making a bid to join the Big Ten. Their first two games are at Maryland and Rutgers…Idaho state starts this season hosting Simon Fraser of Canada. U. of San Diego hosts the Universidad de Las Americas Puebla from Mexico…We still see 1-10 Rhode Island opening at 0-12 as intriguing. How low can the Jayhawks go to get a win? Hopefully to make up for this to their fans, the two schools should play each other in basketball this season…Former Rutgers LB and Lenape Valley Regional (NJ) RB/LB, Nick Rafferty transferred to Sacred Heart of the Northeast Conference. He has at least two years of eligibility remaining to play in that FCS football program…Many FCS football teams play at least one FBS school. Other FCS teams like Howard, Idaho State, Morgan State and Savannah State, play two. The must need a lot of money. Then there is Sam Houston State coached by KC Keeler formerly of Delaware and D3 Rowan. He never touches the FBS teams on his schedule, but he recruits a lot of former FBS castaways to play on his teams. Always did. His Bearkats were 11-4 last season. He likes coaching at the FCS level for this reason and probably always will no matter how successful he is if ever offered to move up…Then there’s South Carolina State. They open at Central Florida, at Louisiana Tech, and then go to Clemson. Three FBS schools for some nice paydays. They’ll have to win all their other games to top last season’s win total of seven…Former Montana State HC Rob Ash was HC at three schools for the last 34 years starting at the Alma Mater Juniata, before taking over at Drake where he took them from D3 into the FCS before finishing the last 10 years at Montana State. He finished with a record of 234-126-5. He left college football ranked in the Top 20 head coaches in total wins among active coaches. In 2011, he was awarded the Liberty Mutual FCS Head Coach of the Year. On June 2, he took a position with Bret Bielema’s Arkansas program as an offensive analyst. Three current FBS head coaches played for him at Drake – Chris Ash of Rutgers (no relation), Dave Doeren of NC State, and Charlie Partridge of Florida Atlantic. Maybe he will coach again… Charleston Southern, defending four-time national Champ North Dakota State will host Eastern Washington before traveling to play Iowa in Iowa City. Of course, QB Carson Wentz graduated and moved on to the NFL. However, Frosh Easton Stick replaced him last season when he broke his wrist and led the Bison to eight wins on the way to the FCS football title…New Hampshire will open the season in front of our friend Tom Ables when he will see them face his Aztecs during his 781st Aztec game!…

The UNH Wildcats will be looking for their 13th straight FCS playoff berth starting with their season opener at San Diego State.

The UNH Wildcats will be looking for their 13th straight FCS playoff berth starting with their season opener at San Diego State.

The Red Flash of St. Francis (PA) of the NEC will have to be Road Warriors to begin their season. Their first four games are on the road at Montana, Towson, Columbia, and Albany… and FCS football bid farewell to Villanova HC Andy Talley who first coached the Wildcats in 1985. We’ve seen his team perform numerous times. His career at D3 St. Lawrence and at FCS Delaware now stands at 219-152-2. One memory of ours stands out when we saw his St. Lawrence team defeat Wagner College on State Island in a D3 playoff. Our friend Bob Daly played for him them. The Larry QB was Mark Ferrante. He’s been with HC Talley basically ever since. Currently the Wildcats offensive line coach, he will become a HC next season for the first time after Talley steps down. The Cats look to finish strong for their coach whose VU team won the FCS football championship in 2009. A strong defense and the return of QB Zach Bednarczyk will be keys to getting Talley’s team a CAA championship and an FCS football playoff invitation. We wish this great HC the best for his final season.

Ah the memories!  HC Andy Talley's VU Wildcats clobbered UNH in the FCS playoffs on their way to the 2009 FCS Title.

Ah the memories! HC Andy Talley’s VU Wildcats clobbered UNH in the FCS playoffs on their way to the 2009 FCS Title.

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