#44 Towson FCS Football 2015 Preview

George Hammond

Towson Tigers

Overall Rank: #44
#7 Colonial

Towson Team Page#44 Towson FCS Football 2015 PreviewBuy Towson Football Tickets

One year after reaching the FCS national title game, Towson fell on hard times last season, but it wasn’t totally unexpected. After its history-making season two years ago, Towson found itself with eight new starters on offense and four on defense. The result? The Tigers struggled from beginning to end, losing their opener to Central Connecticut State. They finished 4-8 overall and 2-6 in the difficult Colonial Athletic Association. This fall should be a different story. The Tigers return much more firepower on offense and though they’ve lost key players on defense, including cornerback Tye Smith, a fifth-round draft choice of the Seattle Seahawks, there are enough veterans to help Towson have a say in the CAA race.

2014 Record: 4-8, 2-6
2014 Postseason: None
Coach: Rob Ambrose (36-37 at Towson, 39-44 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Jared Ambrose
Defensive Coordinator: Matt Hachmann

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Darius Victor, RB, 1,305 yards
Passing: Connor Frazier, QB, 1,499 yards
Receiving: Andre Desenberg, WR, 236 yards
Tackles: James Simms, LB, 99
Sacks: Eric Handy, LB, Jordan Mynatt, LB, 2.0
Interceptions: Eric Handy, LB, 2

Other Key Returnees: OT Shayne Sullivan, OG Sam Evans, C Brady Stup, OT Jesus Barrio, WR DeAngelo Stephenson, TE Tanner Vallely, DE Tungie Coker, NT Jon Desir, FS Jalil Gordon, SS Donnell Lewis, CB Alfonso Augustine, PK Sam Hurwitz, P Jake Ryder, LB Bryton Barr, WR Brian Dowling, C Shawn Flaherty

Key Losses: CB Tye Smith, DE Ryan Delaire, WR Derrick Joseph, WR Spencer Wilkins, DE Drew Cheripko

Last year’s weakness should be this year’s strength. The Tigers, who were ranked 108th out of 121 FCS programs in scoring last year (16.1 points), return nine starters, including quarterback Connor Frazier and running back Darius Victor. Frazier’s numbers weren’t great last year, but that might be due in large part to the inexperience on his part and his offense in general. Having Victor back will help, too. When Towson made its national championship run two years ago, it had an experienced offensive line and a stud running back in Terrance West. That’s the same ingredients this year’s Tigers have as the entire offensive line returns. Towson could have depth on that offensive line, too, as center Shawn Flaherty returns after sitting out last year with an injury. The kicking department should be adequate with the return of placekicker Sam Hurwitz and punter Jake Ryder. Although there are major holes to fill individually on defense, the Tigers are expected to return seven defensive starters as well.

The areas of concern are easy to spot. The Tigers must replace all-everything cornerback Tye Smith, who finished with 312 career tackles – fifth on Towson’s all-time list. The defensive front will miss ends Ryan Delaire and Drew Cheripko. The two combined for 18.5 sacks last year as Delaire was 13th nationally in FCS with 11. The Tigers also lose leading receiver Spencer Wilkins (45 receptions last year) and wideoout/return specialist Derrick Joseph, who was fourth in FCS in combined kick and punt return yardage. As mentioned, all eyes will be on Frazier, who must lead the offense if Towson is to make any noise. Frazier ranked in the bottom half of the CAA quarterbacks in passing yards, completions and passing efficiency.

The Bottom Line:
Expect 2015 to be much better. How much better likely depends on Frazier, who was expected to get serious competition for the starting job this fall from transfer quarterback Kevin Olsen. However, Olsen, a four-star recruit who was in Miami’s program, was dismissed for violations of team rules even before Towson’s spring practice started. If Frazier struggles, redshirt freshman Ellis Knudson and junior Heath Dahlgren are the backups. But Ambrose will likely take advantage of that big, experienced offensive line and just pound the ball with Victor. If Towson can do that, the Tigers could be an upper-echelon team in the CAA. Towson doesn’t meet New Hampshire or Richmond this season so that should help and after opening at East Carolina, the next three are winnable games against St. Francis, Holy Cross and Elon. October is the key stretch when the Tigers face James Madison, visit Stony Brook, and host Villanova and Delaware to close out the month.  

Projected Postseason: None

2014 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 163.4 (61st in nation, 4th in conference)
Passing Offense: 131.8 (116, 12)
Total Offense: 295.2 (116, 12)
Scoring Offense: 16.1 (108, 10)  
Rushing Defense: 160.3 (47, 8)
Pass Defense: 196.3 (40, 3)
Total Defense: 356.5 (37, 5)
Scoring Defense: 28.5 (72, 9)
Turnover Margin: -0.42 (86, 9)
Sacks: 2.25 (47, 7)
Sacks Allowed: 2.42 (82, 6)

Madness 2015 Recruit Rankings:
#30 Lyrics Klugh
#31 Shane Simpson
#113 Justice Pettus-Dixon


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