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FCS Season Preview: Missouri Valley

The Salukis had five players on the TSN/Fathead.com FCS Preseason All-America Team.
With Southern Illinois having won a record 14 straight conference games and gone 15-1 since the Missouri Valley Football Conference replaced its old Gateway name in 2008, it is easy to overlook something about the team rightfully installed as this year's preseason favorite:

The Salukis lost 25 lettermen and return only nine starters.

Hey, no MVFC rival will be shedding tears any time soon for the Salukis, but there just might be a title race after all within a conference deep with talented teams.

South Dakota State, the MVFC runner-up last season, is loaded again. Plus longtime conference power Northern Iowa is hopeful of getting back on track (if a 7-4 season if off track), and Illinois State and Missouri State should field strong teams again.

"It's difficult to get through one week undefeated let alone the entire season," said SIU coach Dale Lennon, whose team went 8-0 in conference play and 11-2 overall last season. "And I think everyone kind of adapted that philosophy, where you do just take it one week at a time and you just try to keep the focus on yourself and not get caught up with anything on the outside."

Preseason MVFC
All-Conference Team
Offense
QB- Matt Brown, Illinois State
RB- Carlos Anderson, Northern Iowa
RB- Kyle Minett, South Dakota State
FB- John Goode, Southern Illinois
WR- Joe Allaria, Southern Illinois
WR- Dominique Barnes, Youngstown State
WR- Lilo Senatus, Western Illinois
TE- Schuylar Oordt, Northern Iowa
OL- David Arkin, Missouri State
OL- Nick Bledsoe, Illinois State
OL- Ryan McKnight, South Dakota State
OL- David Pickard, Southern Illinois
OL- Eric Rodemoyer, Youngstown State

Defense
DL- Eric Brunner, Illinois State
DL- Matthew Gratzek, North Dakota State
DL- Waylon Richardet, Missouri State
DL- Kyle Russo, Southern Illinois
LB- Aaron Archie, Indiana State
LB- Derek Domino, South Dakota State
LB- Kyle Glazier, Western Illinois
LB- Antoine Wilkinson, Missouri State
DB- Kelvyn Hemphill, Illinois State
DB- Conrad Kjerstad, South Dakota State
DB- Korey Lindsey, Southern Illinois
DB- Mike McElroy, Southern Illinois

Specialists
PK- Kyle Dougherty, Southern Illinois
P- Dean Priddy, South Dakota State
RS- Todd Speight, Western Illinois
SIU's biggest losses were All-America running back Deji Karim, who last season finished third for the Walter Payton Award which honors the FCS' outstanding player, and linebacker Brandin Jordan, their leading tackler.

Still, while the Salukis lost a lot in quantity, they return so much in quality players. Starting quarterback Chris Dieker is back to run the offense, and the Salukis had five players on The Sports Network/Fathead.com FCS Preseason All-America Team, second only to Appalachian State's seven. They were cornerback Korey Lindsey on the first team; junior fullback John Goode and junior tackle David Pickard on the second team; and senior safety Mike McElroy and senior place-kicker Kyle Dougherty on the third team.

"Personnel-wise is probably where I think they separated themselves a little bit last season," Northern Iowa coach Mark Farley said. "They had very good personnel and very good defensive personnel."

SIU's perceived challengers are bunched together on its schedule. The Salukis visit Illinois State on Oct. 2, host Northern Iowa on Oct. 9 and South Dakota State on Oct. 16 - at their new 15,000-seat Saluki Stadium - and, after a bye, travel to Missouri State on Oct. 30.

"The preseason vote lasts one day. And then you go to work." South Dakota State coach John Stiegelmeier reminds of what could be a terrific race.

Following is a team-by-team breakdown of the 2010 Missouri Valley Football Conference race.

The Sports Network's predicted order of finish:

1. Southern Illinois
2. South Dakota State
3. Northern Iowa
4. Illinois State
5. Missouri State
6. Youngstown State
7. North Dakota State
8. Western Illinois
9. Indiana State

Offensive Player of the Year: Kyle Minett, RB, South Dakota State

Defensive Player of the Year: Antoine Wilkinson, LB, Missouri State

1. SOUTHERN ILLINOIS SALUKIS (11-2 overall; 8-0 MVFC)

COACH: Dale Lennon (20-5 in two seasons at SIU; 122-38 in 13 overall seasons)

STARTERS RETURNING: 9 (6 offense/3 defense)

OFFENSIVE STAR: LT David Pickard, Jr.

DEFENSIVE STAR: CB/PR Korey Lindsey, Sr. (63 TT, 2.5 TFL, 6 INTs, 4 PBU, 1 FR; 5.2-yard punt return average)

OTHER KEY PLAYERS:
QB Chris Dierker, Sr. (101 of 175 for 1,326 yards, 10 TDs and 5 INTs; 3 rushing TDs)
QB Paul McIntosh, So. (78 of 116 for 888 yards, 8 TDs and 3 INTs; 87 carries, 588 yards, 6 TDs)
RB/KR Lucien Walker, Sr. (55 carries, 243 yards, 1 TD; 25.9-yard KO return average)
RB Shariff Harris, Jr. (Pittsburgh transfer)
RB Steve Strother, So. (38 carries, 154 yards)
FB John Goode, Jr. (7 receptions, 35 yards, 4 TDs)
WR Joe Allaria, Sr. (52 receptions, 697 yards, 4 TDs)
WR Jeff Evans, Sr. (18 receptions, 319 yards, 3 TDs)
WR John Lantz,
R-Fr. TE C.J. Robertson, Jr.
LG George Danilkowicz, Jr.
C Bryan Boemer, Jr.
RG Jesse McMullin, Jr. (Iowa Western CC transfer)
DE Chance Coda, Jr. (27 TT, 3.5 TFL, 2 sacks, 7 QBH, 1 FR, 2 blocked kicks)
DE Kyle Russo, Jr. (25 TT, 6.5 TFL, 6 sacks, 1 FR)
DE Jason Seaman, Sr. (22 TT, 2 sacks)
NT Derrick Nsubuga,
R-Fr. OLB Robert Spann, Sr. (24 TT, 3 TFL, 1.5 sacks, 1 FF)
OLB Connor James, Jr. (42 TT, 2 QBH, 1 FF)
OLB Jayson DiManche, Jr. (4 TT)
ILB Stephen Franklin, Sr. (38 TT, 2 PBU, 1 FF)
SS Mike McElroy, Sr. (78 TT, 7. TFL, 7 INTs, 4 PBU)
FS E.J. Clark,
R-Fr. CB James McFadden, So. (17 TT, 2 PBU)
CB Michael Thornton, Sr. (22 TT, 1 PBU)
CB T.J. Shine, Jr. (Butler CC transfer)
PK Kyle Dougherty, Sr. (19 of 25 FG, 49 long, 53 of 55 PAT)
P Austin Pucylowski, Fr.

OUTLOOK: Saluki Stadium will be the place to be as SIU replaces old McAndrew Stadium. Since 2003, the Salukis are 41-6 at home, including 37-2 in the regular season. A year ago, the Salukis spent the final three weeks of the regular season as the No. 1 team in the nation. This year, they don't seem quite as strong, but the depth in their program will allow them to overcome a lot of the personnel losses. In his career, QB Dieker is 15-4 as a starter, and he's healthy again after a broken left clavicle sidelined him following the seventh game last season (backup McIntosh is solid as well). Expect the Salukis to pass a little more this season. They have had a 1,000-yard rusher in 11 of the past 12 seasons, but might rely on a committee this year as they replace Deji Karim. Pickard and Boemer anchor their offensive line. While the defense returns only three starters, the secondary is among the nation's best with Lindsey and McElroy. The defense usually is adept at forcing turnovers (a plus-17 ratio last season). Not to be overlooked is PK Dougherty, who is closing in on the school field-goal and scoring records. The Salukis have qualified for the FCS playoff appearances in seven straight seasons - second only to Montana's 17 - and expect to be back as MVFC champions.

2. SOUTH DAKOTA STATE JACKRABBITS (8-4 overall; 7-1 MVFCC)

COACH: John Stiegelmeier (83-60 in 13 seasons at South Dakota State)

STARTERS RETURNING: 12 (5 offense/7 defense)

OFFENSIVE STAR: Kyle Minett, Sr. (270 carries, 1,304 yards, 16 TDs; 19 receptions, 143 yards, 1 TD)

DEFENSIVE STAR: LB Derek Domino, Sr. (100 TT, 9 TFL, 2 sacks, 5 INTs, 2 PBU, 1 FR)

OTHER KEY PLAYERS:
QB Thomas O'Brien, So. (126 of 220 for 1,448 yards, 11 TDs and 9 TDs)
RB Tyler Duffy, Sr. 76 carries, 265 yards, 2 TDs)
WR Aaron Rollin, So. (11 receptions, 113 yards)
WR/KR Tyrel Kool, So. (17 rushes, 96 yards; 26.1-yard KO return average)
WR Brandon Hubert, R-Fr.
WR Trevor Tiefenthaler, R-Fr. TE Colin Cochart, Sr. (26 receptions, 240 yards, 5 TDs)
C Ryan McKnight, Sr.
RT Jon Fick, So.
OL Alex Parker, R-Fr.
OL Bryan Witzmann, R-Fr.
LT Alex Dominguez, Jr. (Antelope Valley College transfer)
LT Tyler Luethje, So.
NT Ross Basham, Sr. (21 TT, 1 FF)
NT Brian Fischer, Sr. (19 TT, 4 TFL, 3 sacks)
DE Jake Steffen, Jr. (30 TT, 7.5 TFL, 3 sacks, 2 INT, 6 QBH)
CB/KR Cole Brodie, Sr. (71 TT, 1 INT, 3 PBU, 1 FF; 28.8-yard KO return average)
CB General Parnell, Sr. (23 TT, 4 INT, 1 PBU)
CB Rodkem Matthews, Jr. (16 TT, 3 PBU)
SS Conrad Kjerstad, Sr. (81 TT, 5 INTs, 6 PBU, 1 FR)
FS Anthony Wise, Jr. (52 TT, 3 PBU, 1 FF)
FS Corey Jeske, Sr. (28 TT, 2.5 TFL, 1 INT)
PK Kyle Harris, Jr. (9 of 15 FG, 49 long)
P Dean Priddy, Sr. (41.2-yard punt average)

OUTLOOK: Standouts in the senior class will power the Jackrabbits. RB Minett is an All-America who enters the season with 3,069 rushing yards and 42 total touchdowns in his career. McKnight might be the best center in the FCS. LB Domino knocks down opposing players like his name. SS Kjerstad is always around the ball and headlines a secondary which returns its four starters. The special teams also are excellent and QB O'Brien should improve after making six starts last season. The 6-4, 255-pound Cochart, another senior, is a huge target at tight end, but the Jackrabbits have little experience at wide receiver. What might be even tougher to overcome is the road schedule in the first half of the season, games at Delaware (Sept. 11), Nebraska (Sept. 25), Northern Iowa (Oct. 2) and Southern Illinois (Oct. 16). Their most recent road game was a puzzle, an FCS playoff game when they surrendered 34 unanswered points in the fourth quarter of a 61-48 loss to Montana. The Jackrabbits are 13-3 in two seasons of MVFC play. Getting back to the playoffs as the conference champion is their goal.

3. NORTHERN IOWA PANTHERS (7-4 overall; 5-3 MVFC)

COACH: Mark Farley (82-32 in nine seasons at Northern Iowa)

STARTERS RETURNING: 9 (3 offense/6 defense)

OFFENSIVE STAR: RB Carlos Anderson, So. (114 carries, 541 yards, 4 TDs; 15 receptions, 110 yards, 1 TD)

DEFENSIVE STAR: LB Jamar Thompson, Sr. (86 TT, 2 TFL, 2 INT, 3 PBU)

OTHER KEY PLAYERS:
QB Zach Davis, Jr. (18 of 37 for 230 yards, 2 TDs and 2 INTs)
QB Tirrell Rennie, Jr. (Ellsworth CC transfer)
RB Matt Strathman, Sr. (39 carries, 264 yards, 2 TDs)
FB/TE Ryan Mahaffey, Jr. (7 receptions, 50 yards, 3 TDs)
WR/RS Jarred Herring, Jr. (27 receptions, 516 yards, 3 TDs; 22.7-yard KO return average)
WR Maurice Turner, Jr. (20 receptions, 266 yards, 1 TD)
WR Josh Collins, Jr. (32 receptions, 502 yards, 1 TD in 2008; missed last season)
WR Terrell Sinkfield, R-Fr.
TE Schuylar Oordt, Sr. (18 receptions, 358 yards, 5 TDs)
TE Darion Howard, R-Fr.
C Brian Palangi, So. (Northeastern transfer)
DE Darren Branch, Jr (27 TT, 3 TFL)
DE Ben Boothby, Jr. (27 TT, 5 TFL, 2.5 sacks, 1 FR, 1 FF) LB L.J. Fort, Jr. (70 TT, 4.5 TFL, 2 INT, 1 FF)
LB Shawn Gerard, Jr. (18 TT, 2 TFL)
LB Sam Tim, R-Fr.
CB Andre Martin, So. (44 TT, 3 PBU, 2 INTs)
CB Terrell McBride, So. (41 TT, 2.5 TFL, 3 PBU)
S Tre' Canady, Jr. (27 TT, 1 PBU)
DB James Conley, Jr. (26 TT, 1 INT, 1 PBU)
FS Garrett Scott, So. (25 TT, 2 PBU)
PK Billy Hallgren, Sr. (13 of 17 FG, 42 long; 43 of 43 PAT)
P Kyle Bernard, So. (36.8-yard punt average)

OUTLOOK: The defense will have to carry the MVFC's most storied program (14 conference titles, including nine outright). Only three offensive starters return, and none reside on the offensive line. The good news is 5-foot-8 RB Anderson is ready to step into a starting job and be a dominant player in the MVFC. Collins, Turner and Oordt are reliable receiving threats who will help Davis try to replace Pat Grace, the All-MVFC first-team quarterback last season. The defense may be more experienced, but it suffered big losses as well, including DE James Ruffin, the MVFC Co-Defensive Player of the Year; LB Josh Mahoney, the leading tackler; and SS Quentin Scott, another first-team all-conference selection. Thompson, who split time between safety and linebacker last season, returns to lead the defense, which is tough against the run. The Panthers will have to get it done with balance. If they can weather a difficult first half of the season, a big second-half run could carry them back to the FCS playoffs after they missed them last season.

4. ILLINOIS STATE REDBIRDS (6-5 overall; 5-3 MVFC)

COACH: Brock Spack (6-5 in one season at Illinois State)

STARTERS RETURNING: 18 (9 offense/9 defense)

OFFENSIVE STAR: QB Matt Brown, So. (226 of 352 for 2,369 yards, 11 TDs and 6 INTs)

DEFENSIVE STAR: S Kelvyn Hemphill, Sr. (71 TT, 7.5 TFL, 2 sacks, 1 INT, 3 PBU, 1 FF)

OTHER KEY PLAYERS:
QB Drew Kiel, Jr. (20 of 22 for 140 yards and 1 TD; injured last season)
RB Clifton Gordon, Jr. (150 carries, 542 yards, 7 TDs; 21 receptions, 169 yards, 1 TD)
RB Ashton Leggett, Jr. (Michigan State transfer)
WR Tyrone Walker, So. (37 yards, 485 yards, 3 TDs)
WR Marcus King, Jr. (9 receptions, 72 yards)
WR Marvon Sanders, Jr. (Eastern Michigan transfer) WR Matt Younger, Fr.
WR James Shaughnessy, Fr. TE Casey Cline, Jr. (16 receptions, 195 yards)
LT Chris Riley, Sr.
LG Nick Bledsoe, Jr.
LG Charles Dennis, Jr.
C Cal McCarthy, Jr.
RG Keenan Wimbley, Jr.
RT Dane Zumbahlen, Sr.
DE Nick Broome, So. (28 TT, 1.5 TFL, 6 QBH, 1 FF)
DT Eric Brunner, Jr. (47 TT, 7 TFL, 2 PBU, 7 QBH, 1 blocked kick)
DT Mike Piton, Sr. (23 TT, 2 sacks, 1 FR)
DL Shelby Harris, R-Fr. (Wisconsin transfer)
OLB Austin Davis, So. (60 TT, 5.5 TFL, 1 PBU)
MLB Josh Howe, Jr. (51 TT, 4 TFL, 1 PBU)
OLB Mike Zimmer, So. (48 TT, 4 TFL, 1 INT, 1 PBU)
MLB Leonard Hubbard, So. (Wisconsin transfer)
S Casey Kociuba, Sr. (33 TT, 3 PBU, 1 FF)
S Jermaine Malcolm, Sr. (34 TT, 1 INT, 3 PBU)
CB E.J. Jones, Sr. (36 TT, 3.5 TFL, 6 INTs, 3 PBU)
PK Steven Fetzer, Sr.
PK/P Mike Wood, R-Fr.

OUTLOOK: After making a three-game improvement in Spack's first season, the Redbirds are eyeing the next step, including the FCS playoffs. There are 12 transfers from FBS schools on the roster. QB Kiel suffered a season-ending wrist injury in the first game last season, but Brown came on strong and earned MVFC Freshman of the Year honors, leading the conference's top-ranked passing offense. Brown remains the starter this season. The offense will be strong, including the return of all five starting linemen and productive RB Gordon, who is challenged by the newcomer Leggett. The question is, how do the Redbirds replace Eyad Salem, who set a school single-season record with 92 receptions last season? The 4-3 defense was more active last season, gaining as many sacks (25) as it had in the two prior seasons combined. The standouts are Brunner in the middle of the D-line and SS Hemphill making plays across the field. With a bunch of key players in their junior and sophomore seasons, the Redbirds are building toward a title run next season, but they're anxious to break through this season. They fell by 21 points to South Dakota State and 20 to Southern Illinois last season.

5. MISSOURI STATE BEARS (6-5 overall; 4-4 MVFC)

COACH: Terry Allen (18-26 in four seasons at Missouri State; 113-85 in 17 overall seasons)

STARTERS RETURNING: 17 (8 offense/9 defense)

OFFENSIVE STAR: LT David Arkin, Sr.

DEFENSIVE STAR: ILB Antoine Wilkinson, Sr. (113 TT, 5 TFL, 1 INT, 8 PBU, 1 FF, 2 FF)

OTHER KEY PLAYERS:
QB Cody Kirby, Sr. (181 of 293 for 2,120 yards, 11 TDs and 16 INTs; 3 rushing TDs)
RB Stephen Johnston, Jr. (injured last season)
RB Chris Douglas, Jr. (72 carries, 325 yards, 4 TDs)
RB Makael Cooper-Falls, So. (92 carries, 424 yards, 2 TDs)
WR Cadarrius Dotson, So. (28 receptions, 244 yards, 2 TDs)
WR Jermaine Saffold, Jr. (25 receptions, 439 yards, 3 TDs)
WR Adrian Williams, So. (10 receptions, 90 yards)
WR/KR Julian Burton, Fr.
WR/QB Trevor Wooden, R-Fr.
LG Travis Simmons, Jr.
C Erik Dahl, Sr.
RG Bob Shapel, Sr.
RT Jake Duron, Sr.
DE Waylon Richardet, Sr. (43 TT, 6 TFL, 2.5 sacks, 1 INT, 2 FR)
NT Mikel Ruder, Jr. (46 TT, 4 TFL, 3 sacks, 2 PBU)
NT Tevan Ferguson, So. (19 TT, 1 blocked kick)
OLB Michael Keck, Jr. (65 TT, 6.5 TFL, 2.5 sacks, 2 FR, 2 FF)
OLB Terian Washington, Sr. (49 TT, 7 TFL, 2 sacks, 5 PBU, 1 FF)
ILB Adam Beauchamp, Sr. (80 TT, 3 PBU, 1 FF)
ILB David Ingram, Jr. (13 TT)
FS Derek Miller, Sr. (70 TT, 4 INTs, 1 FR)
SS Skylar Smith, Sr. (94 TT, 3.5 TFL, 5 PBU, 1 FR)
CB Jimmie Strong, Jr. (42 TT, 1 INT, 4 PBU)
CB Howard Scarborough, R-Fr.
P Jordan Chiles, Jr. (40.1-yard punt average)

OUTLOOK: The Bears get the MVFC's lower-tier teams to open their conference schedule, so they could be in the title race at midseason. That's when they will have to take the next step after they enjoyed their best season under Allen in 2009. The defense improved immensely last season and returns its top nine tacklers, led by Wilkinson, the MVFC Newcomer of the Year who was third in the conference with 113 stops. Kirby is looking to cut down on his conference-high 16 interceptions. It won't be a bad idea to hand off the ball more because Johnston, who averaged 5.6 yards per carry in 2008, is healthy again and joining last year's rushing leader, Cooper-Falls. The backs will work behind a veteran line which is anchored by Arkin, one of the better offensive linemen in the FCS. The next step for the Bears is to beat the better teams in the MVFC. With a veteran squad, this could be the season.

6. YOUNGSTOWN STATE PENGUINS (6-5 overall; 4-4 MVFC)

COACH: Eric Wolford (first season)

STARTERS RETURNING: 13 (6 offense/7 defense)

OFFENSIVE STAR: WR/KR Dominique Barnes, Sr. (60 receptions, 762 yards, 8 TDs; 19.5-yard KO return average)

DEFENSIVE STAR: FS Andre Elliott, Sr. (63 TT, 3 TFL, 2 sacks, 1 INT, 3 PBU, 1 blocked kick)

OTHER KEY PLAYERS:
QB Kurt Hess, R-Fr.
QB Najee Tyler, R-Fr. (Purdue transfer)
QB Mark Kanetsky, Jr. (3 of 4 for 30 yards and 1 TD)
TB/KR Jamaine Cook, So. (20 carries, 111 yards; 21.2-yard KO return average)
TB Torrian Pace, R-Fr. TB Adaris Bellamy, Fr.
FB Kyle Banna, Sr.
LT Andrew Radakovich, So.
LG Erik Rodemoyer, Sr.
LG Zach Larson, Fr.
C Justin Rechichar, Sr.
RG Bobby Coates, Sr.
RG Marc Stevens, So. (Bowling Green transfer)
RT D.J. Main, So.
DT Torrance Nicholson, Sr. (26 TT, 1 PBU, 1 blocked kick)
DE Stephen Meadows, Jr. (26 TT)
DE Luke Matelan, Sr. (11 TT, 1.5 TFL, 1 PBU)
OLB David Rach, Jr. (23 TT, 1.5 TFL, 2 INTs, 1 FF)
MLB John Sasson, Jr. (50 TT, 3 TFL)
OLB Deonta Tate, Jr. (35 TT, 2.5 TFL)
CB Brandon Ross, Sr. (47 TT, 2 INTs, 2 PBU, 1 FR, 1 FF)
CB Jamarious Boatwright, Fr.
SS Nick Gooden, Sr. (20 TT, 1 blocked kick)
SS Donald D'Aleiso, Fr.
PK Stephen Blose, Sr. (9 of 16 FG, 48 long)

OUTLOOK: Wolford, a Youngstown native, arrives from the University of South Carolina to try to jump-start a program that has struggled the last two seasons and really hasn't been the same since Jim Tressel departed for Ohio State in 2001. The skills positions were hurt by graduation. Replacing QB Brandon Summers and top TB Kevin Smith will be difficult. Hess enters the season as the starting QB, but Tyler is a touted quarterback who transferred in from Purdue. The offensive line is experienced and Barnes is a superb wide receiver. The defense was better than the offense last season and the return of experienced linebackers and defensive backs help cushion concerns upfront. Outside Barnes, there isn't a lot of star power with the Penguins, but a lunch-pail attitude may be best as the team tries to climb some rungs in the MVFC ladder.

7. NORTH DAKOTA STATE BISON (3-8 overall; 2-6 MVFC)

COACH: Craig Bohl (52-25 in seven seasons at North Dakota State)

STARTERS RETURNING: 12 (6 offense/6 defense)

OFFENSIVE STAR: RB/RS D.J. McNorton, Jr. (64 carries, 282 yards, 2 TDs; 10 receptions, 115 yards, 2 TDs; 22.5-yard KO return average; 14-yard punt return average)

DEFENSIVE STAR: DT Matthew Gratzek, Sr. (50 TT, 10.5 TFL, 3 sacks, 2 FR)

OTHER KEY PLAYERS:
QB Jose Mohler, So. (43 of 72 for 635 yards for 6 TDs and 2 INTs)
QB Brock Jensen, R-Fr.
RB/WR Matt Voigtlander, Jr. (15 carries, 152 yards, 1 TD; 6 receptions, 132 yards, 2 TDs)
RB Mike Sigers, R-Fr. (injured last season)
FB Lee Vandal, Sr.
WR Warren Holloway, Jr. (33 receptions, 514 yards, 1 TD)
WR Gary Williams, Sr. (12 receptions, 271 yards, 2 TDs)
TE Matt Veldman, Jr. (15 receptions, 191 yards, 3 TDs)
TE Landon Smith, Sr.
LT Michael Arndt, Sr.
C Austin Richard, Jr.
OT Billy Turner, Fr.
DE Coulter Boyer, Jr. (45 TT, 10.5 TFL, 6.5 sacks, 2 PBU, 1 FR, 4 FF)
NG Matt Phillips, Sr. (28 TT, 2.5 sacks, 1 FF)
NG Leevon Perry, R-Fr.
ILB Preston Evans, Jr. (96 TT, 6 TFL, 1 FF, 1 blocked kick)
OLB Brandon Jemison, So. (61 TT, 1 FR, 1 FF)
OLB Chad Wilson, Jr. (Snow JC transfer)
LB Matt Anderson, Sr. (22 TT, 2 TFL, 2 FR; injured last season)
LB Grant Olson, Fr.
SS Cyrus Lemon, Sr. (24 TT, 1 INT, 2 FF)
FS Daniel Eaves, Jr. (45 TT, 4 PBU)
CB Derrius Colvin, Sr. (21 TT, 2 PBU)
CB Brendin Pierce, So. (27 TT, 3 PBU)
CB Josh Gatlin, Sr. (12 TT)
PK Ryan Jastram, Jr. (1 of 4 FG, 35 long; 6 of 6 PAT)
P John Prelvitz, Sr. (39.3-yard punt average)

OUTLOOK: Bohl has been successful at North Dakota State, but the Bison's transition into the MVFC has been a learning process - 9-13 overall and 6-10 in conference play over the last two seasons. Last year's 1-7 start was the worst since 1962 (0-10). An improved defense gives the Bison hope, but they will have to weather trips to Kansas (Sept. 4) and Northern Iowa (Sept. 11) to open the season. The defensive line is particularly strong with Boyer and Gratzek prone to get into opposing backfields. Evans and Jemison are excellent young linebackers. The Bison have run the ball well in recent seasons, but have lost star RB Pat Paschall (1,397 yards, 16 TDs last season). McNorton racks up all-purpose yards and hopes to become the featured back. The Bison return leaders on the line in Arndt and Richard. Mohler was the starting quarterback the last four games a year ago, and the Bison scored 91 points over the final two games. As the team matures, it will be interesting to see if the Bison can knock over top-tier teams in November.

8. WESTERN ILLINOIS FIGHTING LEATHERNECKS (1-10 overall; 0-8 MVFC)

COACH: Mark Hendrickson (first season, but 5-10 as WIU's acting head coach)

STARTERS RETURNING: 11 (6 offense/5 defense)

OFFENSIVE STAR: WR Lito Senatus, Sr. (65 receptions, 819 yards, 5 TDs)

DEFENSIVE STAR: LB Kyle Glazier, Sr. (120 TT, 7 TFL, 2 sacks, 2 INTs, 2 PBU, 1 FR, 1 FF)

OTHER KEY PLAYERS:
QB Matt Barr, Sr. (59 of 104 for 914 yards, 5 TDs and 3 INTs)
QB Wil Lunt, So. (104 of 196 for 994 yards, 4 TDs and 12 INTs)
RB Caulton Ray, So.
RB Marva Carley, So. (24 carries, 84 yards, 1 TD)
FB Josh Gabelman, Jr. (22 carries, 83 yards, 1 TD)
WR Terrien Crump, Jr. (18 receptions, 235 yards)
LT Matt Hulbert, Sr.
LT Enock Presendieu, Jr.
LG Max Dancer, So.
C Jordan Valle, Jr.
RT Mike Lamphear, Sr.
DE Mike Stieren, Sr. (32 TT, 8 TFL, 4 sacks, 1 FF)
DE Victor Visoky, Sr. (25 TT, 3 QBH, 2 FR)
NT Alex Martinez, Jr. (Los Angeles Pierce College transfer)
NT Brent Turner, Jr. (Chabot College transfer)
LB Brandon Kreczmer, Sr. (88 TT, 9 TFL, 7 sacks, 4 PBU, 2 FR, 2 FF)
LB Mike Garoppolo, Jr. (12 TT, 2 sacks)
Rover Kevin Palermo, Jr. (28 TT, 2.5 TFL, 1 FR, 1 blocked kick)
CB Kieron James, So. (32 TT, 5 PBU, 1 FF)
FS Terry Barney, Sr. (35 TT, 5 PBU, 2 QBH, 1 FR)
FS Keith Enderlein, Jr. (Delta College transfer)
SS Tim Franken, Jr. (34 TT, 2 TFL)
SS Raynard Pamilton, Jr. (Delta College transfer)
PK Charlie Jouett, Sr.
P Chris Fuchs, Sr. (38.2-yard punt average)
RS Todd Speight, Sr. (20.9-yard KO return average, 1 TD; 11.2-yard punt return average, 1 TD)

OUTLOOK: The bottom fell out on the Leathernecks, who won their opener against Sam Houston and lost their final 10 games to wind up in the MVFC basement. Hendrickson, the longtime offensive coordinator, knows the program well as he has served as acting head coach in each of the last two seasons because of Don Patterson's health concerns. The Barr-to-Senatus combination could be electric. Barr threw for a school record 437 yards in last year's opener, only to be hurt after four games. The Leathernecks might not struggle to replace RB Dre Gibbs, who rushed for 1,110 yards, as they have a balanced unit, including Ray. LB Glazier's 120 tackles led the MVFC. The special teams feature Speight, one of the better returnmen in the FCS. Expect a more aggressive style this season and perhaps some transfers factoring into important roles.

9. INDIANA STATE SYCAMORES (1-10 overall; 1-7 MVFC)

COACH: Trent Miles (1-22 in two seasons at Indiana State)

STARTERS RETURNING: 18 (10 offense/8 defense)

OFFENSIVE STAR: LT Josh Jellison, Sr.

DEFENSIVE STAR: OLB Aaron Archie, So. (117 TT, 10 TFL, 2 sacks, 1 FR)

OTHER KEY PLAYERS:
QB Ronnie Fouch, Jr. (Washington transfer)
QB Travis Johnson, So. (22 of 48 for 152 yards and 3 TDs)
RB/KR Darrius Gates, Sr. (74 carries, 266 yards; 27.1-yard KO return average)
RB Shakir Bell, Fr.
FB Brock Lough, Jr.
WR Larry Lacotti, Jr. (18 receptions, 101 yards)
WR Bryant Kent, Sr. (20 receptions, 326 yards, 2 TDs)
WR Demory Lawshe, Fr.
TE Michael Mardis, So. (12 receptions, 105 yards)
TE Alex Jones, Jr. (5 receptions, 54 yards)
LT Justin Wood, So.
LG Mike Smith, Jr.
C FN Lutz, So.
RG Ben Geffert, Jr.
RT Evan Borchers, Jr.
DT Rod Hardy, Jr. (42 TT, 11 TFL, 3 sacks, 2 FF)
DT Lawrence Young, Jr. (12 TT, 3 TFL)
DE Ben Obaseki, Fr. (32 TT, 6 TFL, 2 sacks, 1 blocked kick)
OLB Dillon Painter, So. (20 TT, 1 INT, 1 FR)
MLB Austen Wozniak, So. (29 TT, 3 sacks, 2 FF)
LB Jacolby Washington, So. (66 TT, 7 TFL)
CB Larry Carter, Jr. (55 TT, 1 INT)
CB Andrew Blackmon, So. (32 TT, 2 INT, 1 blocked kick)
S Alex Sewall, Jr. (84 TT, 2 TFL)
DB Ryan Roberts, Jr.
PK Braulio Martinez, Jr. (5 of 12 FG, 40 long; 12 of 12 PAT)
P/QB Matt Seliger, Jr.

OUTLOOK: Youth abounds with the Sycamores, who return 41 letter-winners after Miles seemingly threw every freshman and sophomore into the mix last season. The experience should pay off with an improved season. There isn't any room to fall farther, either, considering the Sycamores are 2-60 over their last 62 games, including a 32-game losing streak that they snapped versus Western Illinois last season. The Sycamores were outscored 390-99, so both sides of the ball need considerable improvement. After playing musical chairs at quarterback last season, help has arrived in transfer Fouch, who started eight games for Washington in 2008. Roberts, last year's top QB, was moved to the secondary. Gates and Bell will handle the rushing. OLB Archie emerged as a standout as a freshman, finishing second in the MVFC with 117 tackles. The Sycamores only beat Western Illinois last season and will visit the Fighting Leathernecks on Sept. 25.

By Craig Haley, FCS Executive Director


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