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FCS Season Preview: Patriot League

Greg Sullivan is coming off a season in which he totaled 2,740 yards.
Bethlehem, PA (Sports Network) - Colgate's free-spirited offensive lineman can be more "The Gong Show" than "Dancing with the Stars."

While the Raiders have their eye on making the FCS playoffs this season, junior Kevin Morgan doesn't always wear dancing shoes.

"He likes to dance in the locker room," quarterback Greg Sullivan said about the 6-foot, 285-pound center, before delivering the punch line, "without a lot of clothing on.

"He thinks he's good, but he's not good."

Indeed, Morgan and his Colgate teammates have everybody's attention in the Patriot League. Even during the times when people have to wince.

In a league which has been offense-oriented in recent seasons, Colgate returns a powerful running game that could fuel a seventh playoff bid under 15th-year head coach Dick Biddle. His Raiders were 9-2 last season, but tied for second place behind champion Holy Cross, which featured quarterback and three-time Patriot League Offensive Player of the Year Dominic Randolph.

Randolph has graduated, leaving Sullivan as the league's top quarterback. Sullivan is coming off a season in which he totaled 2,740 yards on the ground and in the air - the sixth-highest single-season total in Colgate history - while tailback Nate Eachus rushed for 114.9 yards per game and 16 touchdowns. The Raiders return four starters on their offensive line.

"We have a lot of guys playing key positions that never played before," Biddle said. "But I think we have enough guys that are experienced players and are all-league players that those kids can look up and they relate pretty well. I think our chemistry is fine."

In the seven-team league, Fordham is ineligible for both the Patriot championship and the league's automatic FCS playoff bid because it has decided to award athletic scholarships in football, starting with 15 this season. The rest of the league offers need-based scholarships, and will decide in the future, likely in December, whether to join Fordham's move to athletic scholarships, which are offered in other sports across the league.

Following is a team-by-team breakdown of the 2010 Patriot League race.

The Sports Network's predicted order of finish:

1. Colgate
2. Lehigh
3. Holy Cross
4. Lafayette
5. Bucknell
6. Georgetown
7. Fordham (ineligible)

Offensive Player of the Year: Greg Sullivan, QB, Colgate

Defensive Player of the Year: Anthony DiMichele, S, Holy Cross

1. COLGATE RAIDERS (9-2 overall; 4-2 Patriot)

COACH: Dick Biddle (113-51 in 14 seasons at Colgate)

STARTERS RETURNING: 15 (9 offense/6 defense)

OFFENSIVE STAR: QB Greg Sullivan, Sr. (135 of 230 for 1,952 yards, 18 TDs and 5 INTs; 159 carries, 788 yards, 7 TDs)

DEFENSIVE STAR: DE Zach Smith, Sr. (43 TT, 5 TFL, 2.5 sacks, 1 INT, 3 PBU)

OTHER KEY PLAYERS:
RB Nate Eachus, Jr. (194 carries, 919 yards, 16 TDs)
WR Doug Rosnick, Sr. (29 receptions, 396 yards)
WR Chris Looney, So.
WR Jon Mputu, So.
TE Nick Cvetic, Sr. (5 receptions, 57 yards, 2 TDs)
C Kevin Morgan, Jr.
LG Will Elmore, Jr.
FB Gigi Cadet, Sr.
FB Sam Spitz, So. (Wisconsin transfer)
OT Brian Merrifield, Jr.
OT Vittorio Ottanelli, Jr.
DE Lamont Sonds, Sr. (32 TT, 5 TFL, 2.5 sacks, 1 FR, 1 FF)
LB Mike Carbone, Jr. (5 TT; injured last season)
LB Chris DiMassa, Jr. (13 TT, 1 FR)
CB Coree Moses, Sr. (34 TT, 3 INTs, 4 PBU)
CB Demitri Diamond, So. (35 TT, 1 INT, 5 PBU
FS Vinnie Nicosia, Jr. (29 TT, 1 INT, 4 PBU, 1 FF)
FS Mike Barry, Sr. (34 TT, 1 INT, 3 PBU
PK/P Evan Cobourne, So. (4 of 6 FG, 34 long)

OUTLOOK: Despite being the Patriot League favorite, the Raiders have some holes. They have to replace All-America WR Pat Simonds, who caught 14 touchdowns passes, and their defensive front seven has to show it can play on the high level of the team's past defenses. Sullivan, who enters his third season as a starter, and Eachus will compensate for the still-developing receiving corps. Sullivan has rushed for 1,686 yards in the past two seasons, while Eachus has totaled 1,851 yards. He averaged two touchdowns per game last season, which would have led the FCS if he had not missed three games. The starting offensive line is one of the largest of the Biddle era. To get pressure on opposing QBs, Smith has moved up from outside linebacker to defensive end. The secondary is experienced, led by Diamond, the 2009 Patriot Rookie of the Year. The Raiders are only 12-10 in road games the last four seasons and have difficult non-league trips to Furman (Sept. 11) and Syracuse (Sept. 25).

2. LEHIGH MOUNTAIN HAWKS (4-7 overall; 4-2 Patriot)

COACH: Andy Coen (20-24 in four seasons at Lehigh)

STARTERS RETURNING: 17 (9 offense/8 defense)

OFFENSIVE STAR: LT Will Rackley, Sr.

DEFENSIVE STAR: CB/PR Jarard Cribbs, Sr. (45 TT, 2 INTs, 9 PBU; 8.2-yard punt return average)

OTHER KEY PLAYERS:
QB Chris Lum, Jr. (52 of 107 for 564 yards, 5 TDs and 8 INTs; 2 rushing TDs)
QB Michael Colvin, So. (38 carries, 227 yards, 1 TD)
RB Jay Campbell, Sr. (139 rushes, 659 yards)
RB Jaren Walker, Sr. (46 carries, 135 yards, 3 TDs)
WR Jake Drwal, Jr. (47 receptions, 641 yards, 4 TDs)
WR De'Vaughn Gordon, Jr. (34 receptions, 504 yards, 4 TDs)
WR Craig Zurn, Sr. (33 receptions, 371 yards, 2 TDs)
TE Alex Wojdowski, Sr. (18 receptions, 190 yards, 7 TDs)
RG Ricky Clerge, Sr.
LG Troy McKenna, Jr.
OL R.J. McNamara, Sr.
OL Keith Schauder, Sr.
DE Cody Connare, Jr. (35 TT, 4.5 TFL, 3 sacks)
DE Andrew Knapp, Jr. (26 TT, 6 TFL, 3.5 sacks)
DT Phil Winnett, Sr. (injured last two seasons)
LB Troy Taylor, Sr. (69 TT, 8 TFL, 2 sacks, 1 FF)
LB Al Pierce, Sr. (35 TT, 5.5 TFL, 2.5 sacks, 1 INT)
LB Devin Greene, Jr. (45 TT, 8 TFL, 2.5 sacks, 1 INT)
LB Colin Newton, Jr. (44 TT, 4.5 TFL, 2.5 sacks, 2 PBU)
CB/KR John Kennedy, Sr. (34 TT, 1 INT, 3 PBU, 1 FR, 1 blocked kick; 25-yard KO return average, 1 TD)
SS Casey Eldemire, Sr. (29 TT, 4.5 TFL, 2 INTs, 2 PBU, 1 FF)
FS John Veniero, Sr. (62 TT, 3 INTs, 2 FR)
PK Jake Peery, So. (4 of 7 FG, 38 long)
P Alex Smith, Jr. (34.8-yard punt average)

OUTLOOK: Behind a league-high 17 starters and a strong senior class, the Mountain Hawks are well-positioned to win the league title. That would give a boost to Coen, who has a disappointing 20-24 record through four seasons. The All-America Rackley leads a superb offensive line and the Mountain Hawks have plenty of returning skill-position players. It would help if Lum solidifies the quarterback position. Two-year starter J.B. Clark fell to No. 3 on the depth chart during preseason camp and left the team. Campbell and a healthier Walker are excellent runners and the top four receivers return. Defensively, nobody can replace 2009 Patriot Defensive Player of the Year Matt Cohen, but the Taylor-led linebackers still form a strong unit. Cribbs, Kennedy and Veneiro are returning starters in the secondary. The Mountain Hawks are 1-9 in non- conference games over the last two seasons and have home dates against defending FCS champion Villanova (Sept. 11) and Harvard (Oct. 16), and a road game at New Hampshire (Sept. 25). Nonetheless, this should be a solid season in Bethlehem, Pa.

3. HOLY CROSS CRUSADERS (9-3 overall; 5-1 Patriot)

COACH: Tom Gilmore (39-28 in six seasons at Holy Cross)

STARTERS RETURNING: 10 (5 offense/5 defense)

OFFENSIVE STAR: WR Luke Chmielinski, Sr. (63 receptions, 807 yards, 4 TDs)

DEFENSIVE STAR: SS Anthony DiMichele, Sr. (82 TT, 5 TFL, 2 INTs, 5 PBU, 1 FR)

OTHER KEY PLAYERS:
QB Ryan Taggart, Sr. (2 of 2 for 3 yards)
QB Kevin Watson, Jr.
TB Matt Bellomo, Jr. (91 carries, 442 yards, 4 TDs)
TB Eddie Houghton, So. (68 carries, 389 yards, 5 TDs)
WR Bill Edger, Sr. (49 receptions, 818 yards, 5 TDs)
WR/PR Freddie Santana, Sr. (46 receptions, 601 yards, 8 TDs; 7.5-yard punt return average)
WR Charles McCall, Jr. (14 receptions, 124 yards, 1 TD)
WR Mike Fess, Fr.
TE Alex Schneider, Jr. (33 receptions, 275 yards, 6 TDs)
LT Mike McCabe, Sr.
LG Mike Bernazzani, Sr.
DE Mude Ohimor, Sr. (34 TT, 9 TFL, 7 sacks, 3 PBU)
DL Matthew Boyd, Fr.
ILB C.J. Martin, Jr. (31 TT, 1 FR)
ILB Ricky Otis, Jr. (20 TT)
ILB Perry Townsend, Sr. (26 TT, 1 FR)
OLB Jimmy Thomas, Jr. (67 TT, 9 TFL, 4 sacks, 1 FR, 1 FF)
OLB Sean Lampkin, Sr. (12 TT, 2.5 TFL, 1 INT; injured last season)
FS/KR Alex Johnson, Sr. (55 TT, 1 INT, 5 PBU, 1 FF; 22.1-yard KO return average)
FS Pat Haidon, Sr. (22 TT)
CB Chandler Fenner, Jr. (24 TT, 1 FF)
DB Irvin Scott, Fr.
PK Rob Dornfield, Sr. (7 of 9 FG, 34 long; 40-41 PAT)
P Don Lemieux, Sr. (38.4-yard punt average)

OUTLOOK: Perhaps the focus should not be on the Crusaders losing Dominic Randolph, their record-setting quarterback and starter for the last four seasons. The many big-play receivers could make the new QB (Taggart or Watson) look pretty good. The loss of seven defensive starters is worthy of the spotlight, too. Two of the returnees, however, are among the league's best: SS DiMichele was named to The Sports Network All-America third team last season and DE Ohimor was selected as the Patriot League Preseason Defensive Player of the Year by league coaches. Offensively, Edger, Chmielinski and Santana combined to catch 148 passes for 2,226 yards and 17 TDs last season, and Schneider is a top-notch tight end. McCabe is the only returning starter on the offensive line, making that unit a concern. Dornfield was the All-Patriot first-team place-kicker last season. The Crusaders should post a sixth straight winning season under Gilmore. It just won't be on the same level as last season's championship squad, which reached the FCS playoffs for the first time since 1983 (losing to Villanova, 38-28, in the first round).

4. LAFAYETTE LEOPARDS (8-3 overall; 4-2 Patriot)

COACH: Frank Tavani (60-53 in 10 seasons at Lafayette)

STARTERS RETURNING: 8 (4 offense/4 defense)

OFFENSIVE STAR: WR Mark Layton, Sr. (65 receptions, 838 yards, 11 TDs)

DEFENSIVE STAR: OLB Mike Schmidlein, Sr. (100 TT, 7 TFL, 2 sacks, 1 INT, 1 FF)

OTHER KEY PLAYERS:
QB Ryan O'Neil, Jr. (4 of 8 for 5 yards)
TB/KR Jerome Rudolph, Jr. (42 carries, 215 yards, 1 TD; 17 receptions, 259 yards, 1 TD; 27.9-yard KO return average)
RB Pat Mputu, Fr.
TE/H-back Kevin Doty, Jr. (8 receptions, 79 yards, 1 TD)
WR Mitchell Bennett, Sr. (40 receptions, 596 yards, 4 TDs)
WR/PR Greg Stripe, Jr. (20 receptions, 280 yards)
Slot/RS Jet Kollie, Fr.
LT Anthony Buffolino, Jr.
LG Scott Biel, Jr.
C Mike Eck, Sr.
DE Doug Gerowski, Sr. (25 TT, 2 sacks, 2 PBU)
DT Mike Phillips, Sr. (20 TT, 2.5 TFL, 1 FR, 2 FF)
OLB Nate Dixon, Sr. (13 TT, 1 FF)
OLB Leroy Butler, Jr. (25 TT, 5 PBU)
SS Donald Ellis, Sr. (26 TT, 1 INT, 1 FR, 1 FF)
FS Evan McGovern, Jr. (26 TT, 1 INT, 5 PBU)
FS Kyle Simmons, Jr. (32 TT, 3 PBU)
CB Brandon Ellis, Jr. (53 TT, 2 INTs, 3 PBU, 1 FR)
PK Davis Rodriguez, Sr. (8 of 16 FG, 42 long)
P Tom Kondash, Sr. (36-yard punt average)

OUTLOOK: The Leopards have become one of the Patriot League's more consistent teams, but this season they return only eight starters (a league low) and figure to slip in the standings. They lost a league-high eight players who earned first-or second-team all-league honors last season. QB O'Neil took hold of the starting job during spring practices and has running skills that fit into the Leopards' scheme. The Layton-Bennett receiving combination is outstanding, so O'Neil's job will be made easier by them. Rudolph is a versatile player who will move into the starting tailback spot. By rotating between 3-4 and 4-3 alignments, the Leopards usually have a solid defense. Schmidlein, their best defensive player, had offseason shoulder surgery and is part of a linebackers corps that has injury issues. The Leopards play six of their 11 games on the road, but over the past six seasons have a better record away from Fisher Stadium.

5. BUCKNELL BISON (4-7 overall; 2-4 Patriot)

COACH: Joe Susan (first season at Bucknell; 10-0 in one overall season)

STARTERS RETURNING: 13 (7 offense/6 defense)

OFFENSIVE STAR: QB C.J. Hopson, Jr. (35 of 94 for 341 yards and 5 INTs; 135 yards, 633 yards, 5 TDs)

DEFENSIVE STAR: DT Robert De La Rosa, Jr. (43 TT, 9.5 TFL, 3 sacks, 2 PBU, 1 FR)

OTHER KEY PLAYERS:
QB Burke Batton, Jr.
TB Robert Owoyele, So.
FB Ryan Smith, Sr. (69 carries, 283 yards; 13 receptions, 74 yards)
WR/RS Marlon Woods, Sr. (18 receptions, 178 yards, 1 TD)
WR Shaun Pasternak, Sr. (11 receptions, 169 yards, 1 TD; injured last season)
LT Carson Rohrbaugh, Jr.
LG Ian Dal Bello, Jr.
RG Anthony Carter, Jr.
C Jason Vollmar, Sr.
DE Tyler Anderson, Sr. (52 TT, 7 TFL, 3.5 sacks, 2 FR)
NG Kyle Boline, Sr. (29 TT, 3.5 TFL, 1 FR)
DE Josh Eden, Jr. (returning from two-year mission)
DE John von Paris, Sr. (33 TT, 11 TFL, 3 sacks, 3 PBU)
OLB Travis Nissley, Sr. (93 TT, 3 PBU)
CB Bryce Robertson, Jr. (53 TT, 1 INT, 2 PBU, 1 FR)
CB Jamal Briggs, Sr. (34 TT, 1 INT)
SS Ahkiel White, Sr. (60 TT, 4 INTs, 4 PBU, 1 FF)
FS Joseph Francis, So. (34 TT, 5 PBU, 1 FF)
PK Drew Orth, Jr. (5 of 6 FG, 33 long)

OUTLOOK: Bucknell alum Susan, who was an assistant in Lewisburg from 1981-90, returns to rebuild a floundering program. He was 10-0 at Davidson in 2000 - his only season as a head coach. He has scrapped the double-slot option for a pro- style approach. That doesn't play to Hopson's strength as a running quarterback. If he doesn't win the starting job, the Bison need to find a way to get him on the field. Pasternak, who set the Bison's single-season record with 1,083 receiving yards in 2008, hopes to rebound after an injury-plagued 2009. While the offense undergoes the biggest changes, the defense will have to carry the Bison. Seven defensive linemen who have seen regular game action are back, with De La Rosa the biggest difference-maker out of the group. Nissley (OLB) and White (SS) lead their respective units. The Bison handed Holy Cross its only loss in the league last season and should be energized in Susan's debut.

6. GEORGETOWN HOYAS (0-11 overall; 0-6 Patriot)

COACH: Kevin Kelly (5-38 in four seasons at Georgetown)

STARTERS RETURNING: 12 (5 offense/7 defense)

OFFENSIVE STAR: RB Philip Oladeji, Sr. (76 carries, 308 yards, 1 TD; 20 receptions, 121 yards, 1 TD)

DEFENSIVE STAR: LB Nick Parrish, Sr. (110 TT, 4.5 TFL, 2 sacks)

OTHER KEY PLAYERS:
QB Scott Darby, Jr. (72 of 154 for 672 yards, 4 TDs and 4 INTs; 32 carries, 66 yards)
QB Isaiah Kempf, So. (129 of 256 for 1,231 yards, 2 TDs and 9 INTs)
RB Dalen Claytor, Fr.
Slot Keerome Lawrence, Sr. (33 receptions, 344 yards, 1 TD; 15 carries, 53 yards)
Slot Jeremiah Kayal, Jr. (17 receptions, 92 yards)
Slot Zack Wilke, Fr.
LT Dan Semler, Sr.
RT Rob Bates, Sr.
RG/C Erik Antico, Sr.
DE Andrew Schaetzke, Jr. (52 TT, 9.5 TFL, 5.5 sacks, 2 PBU)
DT George Cullen, Sr. (24 TT, 1.5 TFL)
NT Dan Lenihan, Sr. (23 TT, 5 TFL)
OL Don Rhodes, So.
LB Patrick O'Donnell, Sr. (69 TT, 5 TFL, 1 FR, 1 FF)
LB Paul Sant'Ambrogio, Jr. (60 TT, 2.5 TFL, 1 INT, 1 FR)
LB Robert McCabe, So. (30 TT)
S David Quintero, Jr. (79 TT, 5 PBU)
Rover Wayne Heimuli, Jr. (19 TT, 4.5 TFL)
CB/PR Jayah Kaisamba, Jr. (48 TT, 1 INT, 3 PBU, 1 FR; 6.5-yard punt return average)
CB Stephen Atwater, Fr.
PK Brett Weiss. Jr. (Maryland transfer)

OUTLOOK: Parrish, the linebacker who led the Patriot League with 110 tackles last season, likes that Georgetown isn't on anybody's radar. He believes the Hoyas can sneak up on opponents after going winless last season and 5-38 in Kelly's first four seasons. Kelly has brought in Dave Patenaude from Hofstra's dropped program to be the new offensive coordinator. The Hoyas need a jump- start after they averaged only 9.6 points per game in each of the past two seasons. QBs Kempf and Darby both saw considerable action last season. Kempf passed for 332 yards against Yale; Darby threw for 289 yards and three touchdowns against Marist. Their main weapons are RB Oladeji (fellow running back Charlie Houghton is no longer with the program) and slot receiver Lawrence. The defense will switch from a 3-4 to 4-3, with hopes of improving against the run. The linemen and linebackers are experienced. The Hoyas open with three straight road games, but should get back into the win column this season.

FORDHAM RAMS (5-6 overall; 2-4 Patriot)

COACH: Tom Masella (21-24 in four seasons at Fordham; 38-50 in eight seasons overall)

STARTERS RETURNING: 14 (7 offense/7 defense)

OFFENSIVE STAR: WR Jason Caldwell, Sr. (79 receptions, 1,252 yards, 9 TDs)

DEFENSIVE STAR: ILB Nick Magiera, Sr. (80 TT, 8 TFL, 2 sacks, 2 PBU)

OTHER KEY PLAYERS:
QB Ryan Higgins, So.
QB Doug Papy, Jr.
QB Blake Wayne, So. (Diablo Valley CC transfer)
RB Darryl Whiting, Jr. (132 carries, 681 yards, 5 TDs)
RB Xavier Martin, Sr. 129 carries, 666 yards, 6 TDs)
RB Carlton Koonce, R-Fr. (Hofstra transfer)
WR David Moore, Sr. (51 receptions, 670 yards, 7 TDs)
TE Stephen Skelton, Sr.
LT Adnan Vandyck, Sr.
RG Lloyd Morrison, Jr.
C Jonathan Sheridan, Jr.
RT John Hohlt, So.
OT Robert Kubacki, So.
OL Kai Brusch, Fr.
NG Jordan Bledsoe, Sr. (39 TT, 9 TFL, 4.5 sacks)
NG Thomas Lloyd, Jr. (17 TT, 1 FF)
DT Andy Okonkwo, Jr. (27 TT, 3 TFL)
ILB Mike Martin, So. (44 TT, 6.5 TFL, 5 sacks, 1 INT, 1 FF)
ILB Isaiah Leake, Jr. (32 TT, 1 FR, 1 FF)
ILB Cliff Stuckey, So. (56 TT, 5.5 TFL, 2 sacks, 1 FR, 1 FF)
OLB Bryan Wilson, Sr. (50 TT, 3 TFL, 1 INT, 6 PBU)
LB Andre Delaire, Sr. (25 TT, 2 sacks; injured last season)
CB Jamal Haruna, Sr. (25 TT, 3 PBU)
SS Isa Abdul-Quddus, Sr. (58 TT, 4 TFL, 3 INT, 5 PBU, 2 FF)
PK/P Patrick Murray, So. (6 of 9 PAT; 41.9-yard punt average)

OUTLOOK: The Rams have rallied around their sense of being outcasted by their ineligibility in the conference race. They are eligible for an at-large berth to the FCS playoffs, but securing one is unlikely. They will find it hard to replace QB John Skelton, now a rookie with the Arizona Cardinals. The new QB will have excellent receivers in Caldwell, who made The Sports Network All- America Second Team last season (he was third in the FCS with 113.8 receiving yards per game), and Stephen Skelton, John's younger brother and the top tight end in the FCS. RBs Whiting and Martin provided nearly identical production last season. The Rams are deeper defensively, but need to lower the 26.1 points per game surrendered last season. The gritty Magiera leads an excellent linebackers unit and Bledsoe is a top interior linemen. With a soft non- conference schedule, the Rams should post a winning record, which they have done only once over the last five seasons.

By Craig Haley, FCS Executive Director


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