Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Patriot League 2016 Preview

Fordham has had more success over the last few years than they have had since the Vince Lombardi era. The Rams have largely taken over in a league once dominated by the likes of Lehigh and Lafayette, but the years of Lafayette being competitive have been long gone. While Fordham and Colgate rise, Lafayette sinks to the bottom, and Lehigh gets stuck in the middle. Expect more of the same in 2016.

Projected Order of Finish
1. Fordham
2. Colgate
3. Holy Cross
4. Lehigh
5. Bucknell
6. Georgetown
7. Lafayette

Fordham Rams
Joe Moorhead has moved on as coach of the Rams, and he was largely the architect of the rise of the program. OC Andrew Breiner takes over as OC, so don't expect a huge philosophical swing as far as the way things have been done here.
Kevin Anderson passed for 3183 yards last fall with 32 TDs, and he returns to trigger the offense. The weapon that may be even more important is RB Chase Edmonds, one of the best in FCS football. Edmonds rushed for 1648 yards last fall, and scored 20 rushing TDs. Depth is plentiful at both QB and RB, so expect more prolific fireworks from this backfield in 2016.
Phazahn Odom is gone at WR, but the Rams bring back the next three best receivers in Robbie Cantelli, Corey Caddle, and Austin Longi.
Four starters are back on the line as well, which will allow the Rams to expect to have one of the best offenses in the game this season.
The defense was rather weak last fall, and needs some improvement if the Rams are to move deeper into the playoffs, but playoffs are an absolute for this football team, barring a rash of injuries.
Projected Win Total: 10

Colgate Red Raiders
Jake Melville passed for over 2500 yards last fall, and limited his INTs to just two, all while also rushing for 1073 yards and 11 TDs. He was the driving force behind a run that saw the Raiders get into the quarterfinals of the FCS playoffs.
Adding to the run game will be the return of RB James Holland, who rushed for 16 scores last season on 732 yards. Demetrius Russell is gone, so expect more opportunities for John Wilkins.
Four of Five leading receivers from last fall return, including receiving leader John Maddaluna III, who caught 62 passes. .
The defense is led by LB Kyle Diener, who led the Patriot League with 129 tackles last fall. Pat Afriyie will make things interesting off the edge at DE, as he picked up 17.5 TFLs last season.
Projected Win Total: 8

Holy Cross Crusaders
Peter Pujals may very well be the best returning QB in the Patriot League in 2016. He passed for 3195 yards and 28 TDs. His main goal in 2016 will be to find more accuracy after completing just 59.1% of his passes last season.
The Crusaders never did settle on one back last fall, but both of their top rushers return in Gabe Guild and Diquan Walker.
Brandon Flaherty returns in 2016 after catching 106 passes for 1082 yards and 12 TDs last season. He is the best receiver overall in the conference. Kalif Raymond, who caught 72 passes last fall, is gone. Jake Wieczorek, Richie DeNicola, Darrius Lacy, and Blaise Bell will try to fill that void.
The defense was murder against the run at times last fall, but the unit overall will have to show more consistency if the Crusaders are to push forward and steal a spot or two in the standings this fall.
Projected Win Total: 6

Lehigh Mountain Hawks
Improvement for Lehigh in 2016 will have to start at the QB spot, as Nick Shafinsky passed for 15 TDs last fall, but also tossed 10 picks. That number has to change to the better for Lehigh to have any shot of overtaking Fordham or Colgate, or to have any shot of holding off Holy Cross. Shafinsky passed for 2279 yards, and completed 66.7% of his passes, so the tools are there.
Dominik Bragalone was a huge hit as a freshman last season as he rushed for 1008 yards, and averaged 5.6 yards per carry. He rushed for seven TDs, and Shafinsky added another 11 to give the Hawks a solid ground game in the red zone. Micco Brisker and Nana Amankwah-Ayeh add depth.
The receiving corps should take another step forward, as four of the top five receivers return from a year ago, led by Troy Pelletier and his 78 receptions for 831 yards, and he scored eight times as well.
LB Colton Caslow returns to a defense that was ripped often last season, giving up 49 or more points four times. If Lehigh is to make a move into a playoff spot, that cannot happen again. That being said, I do not think that Lehigh has enough in the tank to make that challenge this season.
Projected Win Total: 4

Bucknell Bison
The offense was an anchor to this team sailing off into the sunset of success last fall. Bucknell only scored over 20 points twice last fall, leaving the league's best defense in the lurch every single week.
RJ Nitti returns at QB, and passed for 2477 yards last season, but he only connected on 13 TDs, while giving up 10 picks. That is a problem, and his accuracy was reflected by a poor number of 56.2% completions.
Matt DelMauro is gone at RB, but CJ Williams will return. He rushed for 534 yards, but never once touched the end zone rushing. Joey DeFloria and Omar Garcia will be competing for carries in camp.
Will Carter led the team with 60 receptions last fall, and returns. Bobby Kaslander has moved on, but Andrew Owers, Alan Butler, and Marcus Adamilola all return as sophomores.
The defense is led in the middle of the front seven by all PL DT Ben Schumaker, who racked up 13.5 TFLs last fall. Bryan Marine is a ball hawk at Safety after picking off four passes a year ago.
Projected Win Total: 4

Georgetown Hoyas
The Hoyas could have easily won seven games last year instead of four, but winning close games is something that this program has got to learn how to do.
Kyle Nolan is gone at QB, so look for seniors Tim Barnes and Patrick Finnigan to get a long look in camp.They combined to attempt 23 passes in 2015.
Jo'el Kimpela is also gone at RB. Isaac Ellsworth and Alex Valles, both juniors this fall, will get the first look at replacing him. Depth is thin here.
Leading receiver Jake DiCicco is also gone, as are his 60 receptions from last fall. Justin Hill and Matthew Buckman will vye for starting jobs, while, Brandon Williams and Luke Morris look to push their way up the depth chart as well.
The Hoyas are all set in the middle of the defense, as LBs Daniel Yankovich and Leo Loughrey return after combining for 171 tackles last fall.
Projected Win Total: 3

Lafayette Leopards
2015 was as close to rick bottom as this program could have gotten, finishing just 1-10. There is nowhere left to go but back up. The Leopards scored fewer than 10 points seven times last season, and that is why they are where they are.
Drew Reed is back at QB after passing for 2008 yards and 11 TDs, but he also tossed 10 picks last fall. He did manage to complete 64.6% of his passes, so he does have tools to work with.Blake Searfoss could push him in fall camp.
DeSean Brown rushed for 580 yards, and just five scores last season. Getting the run game going will be his main job, as the next two rushers failed to score at all. Those backs, CJ Amill and Kyle Mayfield, are both slated to be back.
The top six pass catchers from last season all return, led by Matt Mrazek and Joey Chenowith.
As bad as the offense was last season, the defense was just as horrid. LB Brandon Bryant is a rising star on an otherwise lagging unit after making 114 tackles last fall.
Projected Win Total: 1

Next Up: Pioneer Football League

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