Monday, August 15, 2011

Pioneer Football 2011 Preview

Butler Bulldogs
2010 Reocrd: 4-7
The Bulldogs did not have the same success as their basketball brethren, obviously, but the losses got closer by season's end. Butler hits 2011 running with the return of QB Andrew Huck, but they need some ramped up execution from the senior. Huck passed for 1865 yards and 12 TDs last fall. The run game was abysmal. Ryan Hitchcock returns as a senior after rushing for only 360 yards and 1 score. That will not get it done, so the Bulldogs should make the run game priority number one in camp. Zack Watkins (68-703-3) and Jordan Koopman (50-536-3) both return at WR, giving the passing game half a chance at succeeding.
Defense is led by LB Jordan Ridley, who was an animal last fall. Ridley recorded 130 tackles on the season, and also added 9.5 TFLs and a pair of picks on the season. Grant Hunter will return up front after recording 4 sacks and and 10 TFLs last fall. Logan Sullivan and Jack McKenna will both be back in the secondary, but the Dogs were very poor defending the pass last fall.
The Dogs have some tools, but a sputtering run game and poor pass defense could do them in, especially against higher powers Jacksonville and Dayton.
2011 Schedule: 9/3 Albion, 9/10 @ Indiana State, 9/17 @ Taylor, 9/24 Drake, 10/1 @ Dayton, 10/8 @ Campbell, 10/15 Valporaiso, 10/22 Marist, 11/5 Davidson, 11/12 @ Jacksonville, 11/19 @ Morehead State

Campbell Camels
2010 Record: 3-8
The Camels were in almost every game last fall, as they lost 5 times by a TD or less. This young program was that close to having an 8-3 season, and they appear to be the thorn in everyone's side entering 2011. The main issue will be in finding a new QB, as Daniel Polk has moved on. The Camels boast the deepest RB group in the conference, as they return their top 3 runners from last fall in Rashaun Brown, Carl Smith, and CJ Oates. Improvement is needed by the receivers, as Harrison Jordan returns after catching just 29 passes last fall, and he was the leader.
Mike Brown will be the defensive leader at LB after collecting 71 total tackles last fall, and he is seemingly always near the football. The Camels fall short up front, where there is virtually no pressure applied against the run or pass. Paul Pizzuti and Jared Hart return to anchor the secondary after combining for 10 defended passes last fall, but this group did nothing to create turnovers in the passing game.
The Camels have some possibilities to grind games out with a strong rushing attack, but there are still far too many questions in every other area to make this young program a contender at this point. Building is ongoing.
2011 Schedule: 9/3 @ Old Dominion, 9/10 Apprentice, 9/24 Jacksonville, 10/1 @ Drake, 10/8 Butler, 10/15 @ Marist, 10/22 San Diego, 10/29 @ Davidson, 11/5 Morehead State, 11/12 @ Valporaiso, 11/19 @ Georgia State

Davidson Wildcats
2010 Record: 3-8
The Wildcats stumbled out of the gate last fall and never recovered. They weakened their schedule this fall, as they open with two games against D2 foes, making them the team that the league does not want to win the title, as they become NCAA playoff persona non grata.
Jonathon Carkhuff was the League freshman of the year on offense last fall, and he returns after passing for 2002 yards and 12 TDs. His 12/9 ratio was not great, however, and his accuracy in the red zone will need to improve. The RB stable must be restocked from the ground up. Very little depth there. Lanny Funston returns at WR after catching 47 passes last fall, but he has no support as of yet, with no other receiver finishing in the PFL top 25 last fall.
Patrick Moynahan returns to lead the defense at LB, as he finished with a team leading 70 tackles last fall. He is joined at LB by Joe Behm, and the secondary is led by Peter Kidwell. Behm led the team with 5.5 sacks last season, and he is joined in the pass rush by DE's Ellis Martin and Lewis McAlister. Behm and Martin combined for 23 TFLs last fall. Moynahan and Morgan Popham combined for 18 more. Kidwell will be depended on heavily while an under productive unit tries to catch up to his workload.
The Wildcat defense could hold games close, but the offense, led by Carkhuff, will really need early development to keep the D from wearing out. If that happens, the Cats could surprise.
2011 Schedule: 9/3 @ Georgetown, 9/10 Lenoir-Rhyne, 9/24 Johnson C. Smith, 10/1 @ San Diego, 10/8 Marist, 10/15 @ Dayton, 10/22 @ Jacksonville, 10/29 Campbell, 11/5 @ Butler, 11/12 Morehead State. 11/19 Valparaiso

Dayton Flyers
2010 Record: 10-1
The Flyers were one of the top ten teams in the country last fall when you look at their PRI numbers, however, like Jacksonville, they were shunned from a playoff birth, even though they had defeated playoff participant Robert Morris in the season opener. Dayton will try once again to move forward, but unlike JU, the Flyers did not upgrade their schedule, which could be a huge mistake.
Dayton loses do-it-all QB Steve Valentino, and that is a big loss to take. The Flyers return their top 3 RBs, but none of them managed to carry 100 times last fall, so there could be issues here. The group is led by Taylor Harris, but Bryan Mack did carry 93 times last season. Tyler Hujik and Luke Bellmon both return at WR to give the passing game some depth for the new QB.
The Flyers lose their top 4 tacklers from last fall, so there are some real concerns here. The Flyers lose all of their pass pressure up front, including human wrecking ball Devon Langhorst. Essentially, the Flyers are on reset mode in the front seven, and that could be catastrophic. Matt Pfleger and Kyle Sebetic both return in the secondary, and will have to hold the gates closed while the front seven redevelops.
The holes on defense could completely unglue what developed last fall, and the loss of their top WR and QB will make things difficult for a unit of RBs that lacks a given star. Dayton could slide this fall, and keeping up slug for slug with Jacksonville looks to be a tall order.
2011 Schedule: 9/3 @ Robert Morris, 9/10 Duquesne, 9/17 Marist, 9/24 @ Central State, 10/1 Butler, 10/8 @ Jacksonville, 10/15 Davidson, 10/22 @ Morehead State, 10/29 @ Valporaiso, 11/5 San Diego, 11/12 @ Drake

Drake Bulldogs
2010 Record: 7-4
The Bulldogs were the next best thing to the top two in Dayton and Jacksonville, but they were miles away.
Michael Piatkowski will return at QB, after having passed for 1854 yards and 15 TDs. He gives the Bulldogs a solid, veteran presence, ad his mistakes are rare, but his overall accuracy needs work. Drake returns depth at RB, but again, they failed to produce a 100 carry back last fall, so the committee thing takes away from productivity across the board. Trey Morse carried 92 times, but Patrick Cashmore led the team in rushing. Drew Blackmon and Joey Orlando will give the Dogs a decent receiving duo for Piatkowski to rely on.
Tyler Moorhead will return at LB after leading the team with 73 tackles last fall, but no other return Bulldog broke the PFL top 25 in tackles, leaving Drake thin. The loss of Dain Taylor up front leaves a huge pass rush void that the Dogs have nobody ready to step into. John Sawhill appears to be the only player ready to give it a shot at this point, and he finished with 9 TFLs, which compared to Taylor's 24, appears a bit lacking. The secondary is strong, as Michael Lahart finished with 11 defended passes. He will be joined by Nick Chenier and David Witkiewicz, who combined for 10 more, to give the Dogs a very talented set of DBs.
The Bulldogs may struggle up front on defense this fall, but there are enough pieces to give the Bulldogs a shot of moving into second place this fall. They are still not close to JU on offense, but they have the ability to show some very nice flashes this fall. A team to watch.
2011 Schedule: 9/1 @ North Dakota, 9/10 Grand View, 9/17 Missouri S&T, 9/24 @ Butler, 10/1 Campbell, 10/8 @ Morehead State, 10/15 @ San Diego, 10/22 Valparaiso, 10/29 @ Marist, 11/5 Jacksonville, 11/12 Dayton

Jacksonville Dolphins
2010 Record: 10-1
The class of the PFL, Jacksonville made their PRI debut last season at #4 in the country, and finished there as well. That being said, they were jilted from the playoffs after outranking at least 16 different playoff participants. In order to avoid the jilt, they have beefed up their schedule, adding road trips to the Citadel and Western Illinois, both winnable games.
Back at QB is senior Josh McGregor, the best QB in the PFL last fall. McGregor passed for 3049 yards and 32 TDs to just 7 picks on the season, falling just short of a 5 to 1 ratio. The Dolphins lose PFL leading rusher Rudell Small, however, JJ Laster is a rising star, and is ready for a major breakout season for JU. Returning as well will be leading WR Josh Philpart, who is good for over 16 yards every time he touches the football. The Dolphins do lose significant receiver depth, however, there are plenty of young players ready to step into big roles for head coach Kerwin Bell, the former Florida Gator QB.
The Dolphins have lost some depth up front, but there are some strengths on the line and in the secondary. JU returns Rolando Fines and Juan Pimienta up front, giving the Dolphins a credible pass rush. Mike Mayoral also returns on the line to put pressure on opposing rushing games, so the Dolphins are solid up front. The middle is a bit of an enigma, as JU loses LB Bradley Burns, the best of the group last season, and they are looking for others to step up. The secondary is as solid as they come. Colby Waldon led the PFL in passes defended with 12 on the season, and he will be joined by Darren Johnson, Andre Addison, Leonard Smith, and Jordan Dewhirst, giving the Dolphins one of the deepest and most talented secondaries in all of FCS football.
The Dolphins were the highest scoring team in the FCS last fall, and their offense was top five. With most of the solid pieces coming back, the Dolphins are again the team to beat, and they won't settle for a playoff snub again.
2011 Schedule: 9/3 @ Citadel, 9/10 @ Western Illinois, 9/17 Charlseton Southern, 9/24 @ Campbell, 10/1 @ Marist, 10/8 Dayton, 10/15 Morehead State, 10/22 Davidson, 11/5 @ Drake, 11/12 Butler, 11/19 @ San Diego

Marist Red Foxes
2010 Record: 3-8
The struggled badly in 2010, but returning QB Tommy Reilly was not at the center of the struggles, as he passed for 2383 yards and 15 TDs. His 8 picks, however, prevented him from clearing a 2/1 ratio, so there are improvements to be made. Calvin McCoy and Matt Gray both return at RB, but neither were a factor last fall. Michael Rios and Kevin Fitzpatrick were 2 of the top 4 receivers last fall, and will step into leadership roles this fall on offense. Losing James LaMacchia will be problematic.
Isaac Sine returns at LB, but he was not a major force last fall, with most of his tackles coming on assists. Marist lacked any real pass rush, and certainly did no better when it came to attacking the run. Nick Mainiero returns to the secondary as a junior after picking off 4 passes last fall, while Jaquan Bryant defended 6 passes. Rory Bryant's departure creates a sizable hole.
The Foxes will likely not be much better this season, and a bottom half finish looks like a real probability.
2011 Schedule: 9/3 @ Sacred Heart, 9/10 @ Bucknell, 9/17 @ Dayton, 9/24 Georgetown, 10/1 Jacksonville, 10/8 @ Davidson, 10/15 Campbell, 10/22 @ Butler, 10/29 Drake, 11/5 Valparaiso, 11/12 @ San Diego

Morehead State Eagles
2010 Record: 5-6
Zach Lewis was the closest thing that the PFL had to McGregor at JU for an All-American candidate at QB. Lewis had a strong showing last fall, passing for 2898 yards, but he tossed too many picks, as he wound up with 13 INTs against 15 TDs. If MSU wants to break into plus .500 territory, that's where you start working. Desmond Cox returns at RB, however, he only ran for 448 yards and a paltry 2 scores on the year. There's building project #2. Ronnie McDermott and Donte Sawyer both return at WR, but only combined for 3 TD receptions on the season. Building project #3.
LB Tony Bachman finished 12th in the nation with 122 tackles last fall, and returns to wreak havoc. Keaton May returns at LB as well to give the Eagles solid depth. The Eagles return their top four pass rushers in Jeremoe Raymond, Mark Hall, Thaddeus Winston, and DB Kyle Manley, who is ever dangerous coming in out of the secondary. Raymond and Hall live in the backfield, combining for 36 TFLs coming off of the ends. Bachman is always right in the middle when it comes to getting into the backfield as well, as the Eagles love to blitz off of the edge, creating opportunities in the middle. Kameron Scott is a big time presence in the secondary, as he collected 10 defended passes last fall.
The Eagles may have the best defense on paper in the PFL, but the offense seems miles behind. A shame, as if they were on equal footing, the Eagles could make a play at JU and Dayton.
2011 Schedule: 9/1 Kentucky Christian, 9/10 @ Illinois State, 9/17 @ St. Francis (PA), 9/24 San Diego, 10/1 @ Valparaiso, 10/8 Drake, 10/15 @ Jacksonville, 10/22 Dayton, 11/5 Campbell, 11/12 @ Davidson, 11/19 Butler

San Diego Toreros
2010 Record: 5-6
USD is in need of a major turn around, as they have fallen a great deal since the days of Josh Johnson and Jim Harbaugh. It starts with the continued development of promising QB Mason Mills, who passed for 2160 yards and 18 TDs to 8 picks last fall. Mills could be the breakout player of the season for the Toreros. What kills USD is the lack of a run game. USD returns two backs to the fold in Matt Jelmini and Kenslow Smith, but they were both barely visable last fall. Someone needs to step up. USD loses their top two receivers, including Godfrey Smith, the leading receiver in the PFL last fall.
The entire defense will hinge on DE Mario Kurn, who is a monster in every sense of the word. Kurn led the team with 66 tackles last fall, , and he led the nation with 17 sacks on the season. Kurn finished 2nd nationally with a total of 27 TFLs in 2010, so everything falls on him. It would be awesome if anyone else could step up, and that will fall on fellow DE Dustin Geyer. Al-Rilwan Adeyemi is one of the best DBs in the PFL, as he led the league with 6 picks, and took one in for a score last fall.
The Toreros could make a push into the upper half of the PFL this season, but there are depth issues at WR, productivity issues at RB, and there is a gaping hole at LB. Kurn is amazing, but he needs help.
2011 Schedule: 9/3 @ Azusa Pacific, 9/10 Western New Mexico, 9/17 @ UC-Davis, 9/24 @ Morehead State, 10/1 Davidson, 10/8 @ Valparaiso, 10/15 Drake, 10/22 @ Campbell, 11/5 @ Dayton, 11/12 Marist, 11/19 Jacksonville

Valparaiso Crusaders
2010 Record: 0-11
This is by far the worst program in NCAA division 1 football. They gave up 46.7 points per game while only scoring 9.09 points per game. They gave up 62 TDs while only scoring 13. They gave up 507 yards of offense per game. They only rolled up 218.7 yards per game of their own. Nothing is working here, and what's worse are the losses to NAIA and D3 schools. I won't waste anymore time with Valpo. Shut it down, save yourself the misery, and save all of us some time. It won't be any different in 2011.
2011 Schedule: 9/3 Franklin College, 9/10 @ Youngstown State, 9/17 @ Duquesne, 10/1 Morehead State, 10/8 San Diego, 10/15 @ Butler, 10/22 @ Drake, 10/29 Dayton, 11/5 @ Marist, 11/12 Campbell, 11/19 @ Davidson

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