#34 Nicholls State FCS Football 2017 Preview


Nicholls State Colonels


Overall Rank: #34

#4 Southland

Nicholls State started off last season with a bang…almost. The Colonels lost their opener at Georgia 26-24. Two weeks later they nearly beat South Alabama, but fell 41-40. Even with those two near losses, Nicholls State struggled to beat the better teams in the Southland Conference. They fell to McNeese State, Sam Houston State, Central Arkansas and Southeastern Louisiana. The Colonels need to beat some of those teams if they have any shot at the playoffs.
2016 Record: 5-6, 5-4
2016 Postseason: None
Coach: Tim Rebowe (8-14 at Nicholls State, 8-14 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Rob Christophel
Defensive Coordinator: Tommy Rybacki
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Dontrell Taylor, RB, 428 yards
Passing: Chase Fourcade, QB, 2,482 yards
Receiving: Damion Jeanpiere, WR, 505 yards
Tackles: Allen Pittman, LB, 95
Sacks: Sully Laiche, DL, 9.5
Interceptions: Christian Boutte, DB, 3
Other Key Returnees: WR Jarrell Rogers, OL Chandler Arceneaux, OL Ryan Hanley, LB Hezekiah White, DB Ahmani Martin, DB Corey Abraham, DL Kenny Dotson, DB Darryl Adams
Key Losses: RB C.J. Okpalobi, WR C.J. Bates, OL Chris Bordelon, DB Jeff Hall, DB B.T. Sanders, DL Ronald Ollie
The offense has high hopes with Chase Fourcade leading the way. The quarterback had a superb freshman campaign and finished sixth in the voting for the Jerry Rice Award, given to the best freshman in the FCS. Fourcade threw for 2,482 yards and 18 touchdowns. He also ran for 324 yards and nine scores. Fourcade does need to cut down on his 14 interceptions and boost his 55.1 completion percentage, but that should come with experience. Despite the loss of receiver C.J. Bates, the Colonels return Damion Jeanpiere, Jarrell Rogers, Mason Roberts, Christian Booker and tight end Stephen LeBouef. Also back is last year’s backup running back Dontrell Taylor. As a freshman last season, in just six games, he rushed for 417 yards on 75 carries. Kyran Irvin is another promising sophomore running back. He only had 49 carries, but totaled 265 yards. This is an offense that has a lot of young talent. If that talent can continue to develop and take advantage of a strong offensive line, Nicholls State could put up a lot of points.
The defense has a few holes to fill, but there are good pieces to build around. Last season the Colonels ranked fourth in the conference in rush defense and third in pass defense. The line will build around Sully Laiche. As a freshman last season the 6-2, 255 pound defensive end amassed 60 tackles, including 9.5 sacks. Kenny Dotson and Terrell Encalade will spend some time getting after the quarterback as well. At linebacker, Allen Pittman and Hezekiah White will step back into their starting roles. Pittman led the team with 95 tackles last season, while White added 58 and a pair of interceptions. The biggest turnover is in the secondary where Jeff Hall and B.T. Sanders need to be replaced. However, there is plenty of experience with Christian Boutte, Ahmani Martin, Corey Abraham and Darryl Adams.
The Bottom Line:
Nicholls State will get another chance for a big win against an FBS team when they head to Texas A&M on September 9th. However, the more important early game is the season opener at home against McNeese State on Thursday August 31st. McNeese State is one of those teams that the Colonels need to beat if they are to make a serious run at the playoffs. With Sam Houston State looming on September 23rd, this team could very easily start 1-3 and be spend the rest of the season playing for their playoff lives.
Projected Postseason: None
2016 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 162.9 (50th in nation, 6th in conference)
Passing Offense: 226.7(48, 5)
Total Offense: 389.6 (48, 6)
Scoring Offense: 30.3 (34, 5)
Rushing Defense: 141.3 (41, 4)
Pass Defense: 244.1 (92, 3)
Total Defense: 385.4 (57, 3)
Scoring Defense: 29.8 (78, 4)
Turnover Margin: 0.00 (54, 5)
Sacks: 1.82 (66, 6)
Sacks Allowed: 1.91 (56, 5)
HERO Sports 2017 Recruit Rankings:
#245 David Mosley