Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Patriot League 2011 Preview

Bucknell Bison
2010 Record: 1-10
Nothing went right in 2010 for the Bison. This season, it's all about building on little things that they were able to accomplishment, but there were not many. Sophomore Brandon Wesley returns after starting as a freshman, and he passed for 1699 yards, but his 6 to 9 ratio needs a turn in his second season as a starter. The Bison were young and thin at RB as well, where Tyler Smith rushed for 426 yards. Victor Walker was another young starter, and returns as a sophomore at WR. He will be joined by senior Frank DeNick, but they have depth issues at receiver, and productivity issues as well.
The Bison were a mess on defense as well, as the only player to rank in the Patriot top 25 in tackles (Travis Nissley) is now gone. DE Josh Eden does return, and will be joined by Robert DeLaRosa up front. Sean Rafferty now becomes the best LB returning this season. Samuel Oyekoya also returns, but needs some improvement. Donald Quarles and Derrick Palmer both return after being young starters in the secondary.
The Bison are still rather young, but to say that they will be limited to one win again would not hold sway. Bucknell likely will not post a winning record this fall, but I expect to see some improvement across the board as they gain more experience.
2011 Schedule: 9/3 Duquesne, 9/10 Marist, 9/17 @ Cornell, 9/24 @ Princeton, 10/1 Georgetown, 10/8 Lehigh, 10/15 @ Harvard, 10/22 Holy Cross, 10/29 @ Lafayette, 11/12 @ Fordham, 11/19 @ Colgate

Colgate Red Raiders
2010 Record: 7-4
The Red Raiders fell short of winning the league, but they do return the reigning PL MVP in RB Nate Eachus, who rushed for 1871 yards and an amazing 21 TDs. He is a human battering ram, who becomes even more important with a new starter coming in at QB in Steve Rizzo. Greg Sullivan was a huge dual threat at QB, and losing him means that Eachus is even more important. Noah Jackson also returns at RB to provide a breather for Eachus, a role that he flourished in last fall. Daniel Cason will provide the only real experience at WR, again making the run game extremely important. If teams stack up on the line to stop the run, and they succeed, the season could turn ugly.
Patrick Friel returns at LB after collecting 73 tackles. That being said, the Raiders lose some serious pass rush skill up front, leaving Friel on an island. Adam Lock will need to seriously step up to help Friel out at LB. Dimitri Diamond will bring the only real play making ability in the secondary. Colgate was strong against the pass last fall, but there were no real standouts.
There are many question marks for Colgate entering 2011, but as long as they find a way to open holes for Eachus, they will challenge for the crown.
2011 Schedule: 9/3 Albany, 9/10 @ Holy Cross, 9/17 @ Dartmouth, 9/24 @ Towson, 10/1 Fordham, 10/8 @ Monmouth, 10/15 Cornell, 10/22 @ Georgetown, 10/29 Lehigh, 11/5 @ Lafayette, 11/19 Bucknell

Fordham Rams
2010 Record: 5-6
Fordham becomes ineligible for the conference title in 2011 after adding scholarships, as the PL is non-scholarship. That means that Fordham is likely on their way to another conference in the very near future.
The QB job may come down to Blake Wayne and Ryan Higgins battling it out in camp, as both played extensively last fall. Wayne would look to hold the edge, after passing for 1614 yards and 6 TDs last fall, with twice as many pass attempts. Darryl Whiting and Carlton Koonce both return at RB, and Whiting finished a very distant 2nd in the PL in rushing with 771 yards and 8 scores. The Rams lose both starting receivers and their TE from last fall, so they are starting over again in the passing game.
Michael Martin will take over as the top LB, but the Rams have holes to fill at the other two spots. Justin Yancey returns at DE after recording 3 sacks last fall as a freshman, but they need him to step it up this fall. Yancey was strong against the run, recording 10.5 TFLs last fall. Brendon Melanophy returns in the secondary, but the Rams lose their top two pass defenders.
There are more questions than answers, and depth appears to be an issue everywhere except RB. It could be a long season with nothing to play for.
2011 Schedule: 9/1 UConn, 9/17 Columbia, 9/24 @ Rhode Island, 10/1 @ Colgate, 10/8 @ Penn, 10/15 Lehigh, 10/22 @ Lafayette, 10/29 @ Army, 11/5 @ Georgetown, 11/12 Bucknell, 11/19 Holy Cross

Georgetown Hoyas
2010 Record: 4-7
The Hoyas are nothing like their basketball counterparts, and the school puts very little in the way of resources into this program. Last season was another mess in a string of messes, and it seems like there is a campus wide lack of effort going on around the Hoyas.
Scott Darby returns as a junior at QB, but his effort was extremely lackluster last fall, passing for 1338 yards and just 8 scores to 6 picks. Chancellor Logan should win the RB job out of camp, but he brings all of 50 carries over from last fall. The Hoyas will be inexperienced at WR as Max Waizenegger and Patrick Ryan will likely get the start, and they combined for just 42 receptions last fall. Nobody is shaking.
Robert McCabe recorded 84 tackles at LB last fall, so they do have some talent returning. The Hoyas will be especially deep in the secondary with the return of 3 of their 4 top tacklers in Jayah Kaisamba, Wayne Heimuli, and Jeremy Moore. DE Andrew Schatzke is solid at DE, as he recorded 9 sacks last fall, along with 15 TFLs. Moore is solid against the run as well, as he recorded 10 TFLs. Moore is the most versatile player on the roster, as he also led the PL with 11 passes defended. David Quintero will be the final piece in the secondary, as he returns as well.
The defense will likely be solid, but I expect the offense to be nothing short of a wreck. Losing season number 12, coming up.
2011 Schedule: 9/3 Davidson, 9/10 Lafayette, 9/17 @ Yale, 9/24 @ Marist, 10/1 @ Bucknell, 10/8 @ Wagner, 10/15 @ Howard, 10/22 Colgate, 10/29 @ Holy Cross, 11/5 Fordham, 11/12 @ Lehigh

Holy Cross Crusaders
2010 Record: 6-5
Holy Cross is a good, but not great program. Tom Gillmore has recorded 6 straight winning seasons in Worcester, but they have been seasons in the 6 to 7 win range. Nothing special, but average to good.
That string may break this fall if the Crusaders cannot find a decent QB coming out of camp, which will be a huge challenge. Sam Auffant returns to start at RB, but nobody will confuse him with Walter Payton anytime soon. There is no depth behind him as of yet. The Crusaders lose their top 3 receivers from last season, so it's up to Gerald Mistretta and TE Alex Schneider to take up the gap.
Ricky Otis and CJ Martin return at LB, and they both finished in the PL top 4 in tackle. Otis recorded 108 tackles, while martin finished with 95. The Crusaders will lose three starters on the line, so there could be issues rushing the passer and penetrating against the run. The Crusaders return three members of the secondary who saw significant action last fall led by Tom Mannix, who defended 6 passes in 2010.
In reality, the streak of winning seasons could come to a halt, but they may also shock me and win 6, but no more than that.
2011 Schedule: 9/1 UMass, 9/10 Colgate, 9/17 Harvard, 10/1 @ New Hampshire, 10/8 @ Brown, 10/15 Dartmouth, 10/22 @ Bucknell, 10/29 Georgetown, 11/5 @ Lehigh, 11/12 Lafayette, 11/19 @ Fordham

Lafayette Leopards
2010 Record: 2-9
2010 was a rare slump for the Leopards, who are normally a major player in the east. They seek to get back to lofty heights this season with Ryan O'Neill pulling the trigger at QB again after passing for 2183 yards and 15 TDs. Alan Elder and Pat Mputu both shared the load at RB last fall, and they return to do so again this fall. Kyle Hayes and Mitchell Bennett will be starting at WR this fall after combining to post 72-941-8 last fall. TE Kevin Doty returns as well to give O'Neill more confidence in his receivers.
Ben Eaton returns at LB to give the Leopards a strong presence in the middle of the field, but it is the secondary that brings strength in this season. Kyle Simmons and Brandon Ellis both return at DB, and they combined for 142 tackles last fall. They also combined for 14 defended passes, while Evan McGovern defended 4. Leroy Butler will return to join Eaton at LB, while Mike Grimaldi is the best defender on the line.
The Leopards won't stay down long, and they have some decent pieces to build on. On defense, stopping the run will be key, while on offense, firing up a dormant run game will be most important to take pressure off of the solid O'Neill. The Leopards do find themselves on the road for the first month of the season. Not good.
2011 Schedule: 9/3 @ North Dakota State, 9/10 @ Georgetown, 9/17 @ Penn, 9/24  @ Stony Brook, 10/1 Harvrad, 10/8 Yale, 10/22 Fordham, 10/29 Bucknell, 11/5 Colgate, 11/12 @ Holy Cross, 11/19 @ Lehigh

Lehigh Mountain Hawks
2010 Record: 10-3
Lehigh made it into the second round of the playoffs before falling in 2010, and they have the tools to make another run this fall. It all starts and ends essentially with QB Chirs Lum, who returns after another stellar season in which he passed for 2881 yards and 19 TDs. He absolutely must cut back on his risk taking, as he was picked 13 times. There is solid depth at RB, but Lehigh must settle on someone to carry the load. The Hawks also return one of the best receivers in America this fall in Ryan Spadola, who caught 78 passes for 1130 yards and 9 scores last fall. Jake Drwal is also an excellent option as the number two receiver.
Mike Groom returns at LB after posting 108 tackles, which was good for 5th in the country. Tanner Rivas joins him at LB after collecting 72 tackles of his own. Colin Newton returns to anchor the secondary, but the Hawks lose major depth back there, including PL picks leader Jerard Cribbs. Mike Groome returns to fill out the LBs, and Sajjad Chagani is a solid defender up front.
Lehigh will have questions on defense, specifically in regards to the rebuilt secondary, but they are still the best bet to return to the playoffs with a PL crown on their heads. Someone has to prove that they can be taken out, as they tore through the league last fall.
2011 Schedule: 9/3 @ Monmouth, 9/10 New Hampshire, 9/17 @ Princeton, 9/24 Liberty, 10/1 Yale, 10/8 @ Bucknell, 10/15 @ Fordham, 10/29 @ Colgate, 11/5 Holy Cross, 11/12 Georgetown, 11/19 Lafayette

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