Tuesday, August 16, 2011

FCS Independents 2011 Preview

Georgia State Panthers
2010 Record: 6-5
The Panthers are growing and making strides everyday as they approach full membership in the Colonial Athletic Association in 2012. Drew Little will be back again at QB after passing for 2102 yards and 18 TDs as a freshman. He is a QB to watch not only this season, but next as well. Kelton Hill and Travis Evans shared the load at RB, and both return again for GSU. Parris Lee and Rosevelt Watson both return as well to give the Panthers incredible depth. Danny William took over as the top receiver last fall, and returns after posting 54 receptions last fall. Senior Sydney Haynes will be back as the second option.
Senior Brandon Jones is the leading returning tackler, as the Safety collected 51.5 tackles on the season. LB Evan Bostic returns, as do brothers Jake and Louie Muasau to fill out the B spots. Jake Muasau led the team with 8.5 sacks, while DE Christo Bilukidi added 7 on the season. Jones defended 6 passes on the season, but nobody had more than 2 picks.
The Panthers are making major moves and are building quickly to be immediately succesful once joining the CAA in 2012. It looks like a major push to 8 wins could be in play this season.
Season Opener: 9/2 Clark (Atlanta)

South Alabama Jaguars
2010 Record: 10-0
USA was shockingly solid last season, but played a majority of their schedule against D2 competition. That will change in 2011, as the Jags add 2 FBS opponents, but this is a gradual buildup, as USA prepares to eventually move on to FBS football and a spot in the Sun Belt Conference. CJ Bennett will return at QB for USA, Bennett passed for 1189 yards with 8 TDs and just 2 picks on the season while starting the final 3 games of the year. Kendell Houston will be back, as he led the team with 891 yards rushing and 10 TDs. Courtney Smith was the only receiver to go for over 20 receptions on the season.
Defensively, the Jags only gave up 130 points all season. With the core unit coming back this fall, USA should make more strides, but will be ineligible still for any postseason activities, as they are in a transitional period.
Season Opener: 9/1 West Alabama

Texas State Bobcats
2010 Record: 4-7
The Bobcats were booted out of the Southland conference after accepting a move to the FBS and Mountain West in 2012. They compete as an independent, but still play a schedule loaded with SLC teams this fall.
Tyler Arndt was having a solid freshman season before going down with a terrible knee injury. If fully healthy, he will be handed the ball once more. Dexter Imade will be the primary back this fall after rushing for 414 yards and 5 scores last fall. I expect more from him this fall. Darius Bolden returns at WR, but the Bobcats lose their two best receivers from last fall.
Brian Lilly returns at LB after posting 63 tackles, and DB Darryl Morris provides solid support as he finished with 60 tackles on the season. Prestin Brown led the team with just 3 sacks last fall so a pass rush must be found in the mix this season. DE Jeff Clermond led the team with 9 TFLs on the season, but if another defender can't step up, Clermond will see more double teams this fall. Morris was a strong pass defender, as he knocked away 9 passes last fall.
With a transition going on, Texas State will have the pressure taken off from having to compete for a conference crown this fall, but major strides must be made to prove that they are ready for the jump. I just don't see it happening easily, as Texas State has been bobbing around mediocrity for years.
Season Opener: 9/3 @ Texas Tech

Texas-San Antonio Roadrunners
2010 Record: None
The date is coming near for the UTSA Roadrunners to play their first ever game. There are lots of questions, and a depth chart is still being worked out, but despite all of that, UTSA will have a very quick road to the big time, as they are slated to join the WAC in 2012, if the WAC survives that long. Larry Coker, former Miami coach, will run this football team, so UTSA is starting off big. The schedule will be easy this season, but will be upgraded big time next fall. Let's get it rolling!
Season Opener: 9/3 Northeastern State (OK)

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