Ivy League FCS Football 2015 Conference Preview

Ivy League FCS Football 2015 Conference Preview

Ivy League FCS Football 2015 Conference Preview

Ivy League FCS Football 2015 Preseason All-Conference Teams


If Harvard can live up to expectations, the Ivy League would crown the Crimson champions for the third straight season. A perfect 7-0 in 2014, the Crimson have the target on their back. Harvard managed to beat Dartmouth and Yale late in the season to not only win the Ivy League, but also finish a perfect 10-0 on the year. Those three teams should once again be on top of the Ivy League in 2015.


1. Harvard

Quarterback Scott Hosch returns after starting much of the 2014 season for oft-injured signal caller Conner Hempel. With Hempel gone, this is Hosch’s team now and his experience last year has certainly made the transition much easier. Hosch, a 6-3 senior, threw for 1,428 yards and eight touchdowns. With Andrew Fischer at wide receiver and Paul Stanton at running back, the Crimson’s offense will be among the best in the Ivy League. The defense allowed just 12.3 points per game, the best in the FCS. Much of that unit is back, but that does not include reigning Ivy Defensive Player of the Year Zack Hodges. Without Hodges and his 8.5 sacks, the entire defense could take a small step back. But that may not be enough for Dartmouth or Yale to catch Harvard.


2. Dartmouth

However, Dartmouth can certainly make an argument that they boast the best defense in the league. It starts up front with defensive tackle A.J. Zuttah. He may not be the biggest tackle around, but he is always effective. Will McNamara is the superstar at linebacker and the secondary boasts Troy Donahue and Vernon Harris, who combined to pick off seven passes. Dalyn Williams is a dynamic quarterback who threw for 2,119 yards and 21 touchdowns and added 606 yards and six more scores on the ground. He will get plenty of help from running back Kyle Bramble, who rushed for 655 yards and caught 31 passes for 307 yards.


3. Yale

Yale has some work to do in order to replace running back Tyler Varga and receivers Grant Wallace and Deon Randall. But Coach Tony Reno has experience at quarterback and options at the other skill positions. Morgan Roberts threw for 3,230 yards and 22 touchdowns and is poised for a big senior season. He has a big arm and, at 6-3, looks like an NFL quarterback. He will need his receivers to step up, most notably Robert Clemons and North Carolina State transfer Bo Hines. Hines led the Wolfpack with 45 receptions for 616 yards last season.


4. Princeton

Princeton struggled last year, going just 3-4 in Ivy League action. Any improvement this season will likely come from a strong and experienced defensive unit. Rohan Hylton and RJ Paige lead the linebacker corps, while Tyler Desire and Kurt Holuba will get pressure on the opposing quarterback from the front four. But it may be in the secondary where the Tigers have the most talent thanks to Dorian Williams and Anthony Gaffney. The questions are on offense where running back DiAndre Atwater will be asked to carry the load.


5. Brown

Brown is a team that will look quite different this year. In 2014 it was the defense that led to Brown going 5-5 overall and 3-4 in Ivy League play. This time around, the offense will have to pull their weight to help cover for a depleted defense. Quarterback Marcus Fuller threw for 2,618 yards and he will have Brian Strachan back to throw the ball to again. On the ground, Andrew Coke is another experienced senior. With that much experience returning, this offense could make a significant turnaround from a team that scored just 24.7 points per game.


6. Penn

New head coach Ray Priore has a lot of rebuilding to do at Penn. Coach Priore has been at Penn for 29 years, most recently as defensive coordinator and the secondary’s coach. Penn has been built around defense and that has been largely because of Priore. However, this defense has a lot of holes to fill. The front four has experience, led by Tyler Drake, but there is a lot of work to do everywhere else. Quarterback Alek Torgersen had a solid sophomore season, completing 61.8 percent of his passes for 2,689 yards and 14 touchdowns. He will have to lead a young offense.


7. Cornell

Cornell has some talent. That talent only led to one win in 2014 though. Running back Luke Hagy rushed for 734 yards and four touchdowns during his junior season. Those may not be great numbers, but he is a very good running back in a bad offense. Quarterback Robert Somborn and receiver Collin Shaw should be better with another year of experience under their belts, but there is still a long way to go before the Big Red can compete with the best in the Ivy League.


8. Columbia

Columbia went out and grabbed long time Penn coach Al Bagnoli to lead their team in 2015. After going 0-10 in 2014, a change was necessary and Coach Bagnoli certainly has proven that he can be successful in this conference. Columbia was pretty much blown out by everybody last year with the exception of Cornell, who they lost to at home 30-27. Running back Cameron Molina rushed for 460 yards and added 395 yards on a team high 44 catches, but he can only do so much.


Conference Game To Watch:

Dartmouth at Harvard, October 31 - Yale will be in the mix too and perhaps The Game to close the season will have title implications as well, but first Harvard has to deal with Dartmouth. The Big Green suffered their only conference loss of 2014 at home against Harvard and will be looking for revenge. Turnovers doomed Dartmouth in that contest and that could be the key to what should be a close game in 2015.  


Non-Conference Game To Watch:

Yale at Maine, October 17 – If the Ivy League is going to get a marquee non-conference win, it will come in Orono, Maine. The Black Bears boast a very good team, but this is a Yale team brimming with potential. For the Bulldogs, this game comes during a four game stretch of road games, which includes a trip to Dartmouth the previous week. Yale will certainly want to play their best in conference play, but they cannot look past Maine. It would not only give the Bulldogs respect, but it will also add a much needed boost to the conference.


Top NFL Prospect:

Morgan Roberts, QB, Yale – Roberts began his collegiate career at Clemson before heading to Yale. He passed for 3,230 yards and 22 touchdowns as a junior and could have another big year in 2015. However, he will have some new faces at receiver. Gone are Grant Wallace and Deon Randle, but in comes Bo Hines, a transfer from North Carolina State. Roberts will need help from his receivers to get the attention of the NFL.


Freshman To Watch: (Complete FCS Recruit Rankings)

Justin Shelton-Mosely spurned offers from California, Duke and Northwestern, among others, to play football and get an education at Harvard. The 5-10, 170 pound Sacramento, California native does not look like a dominate wide receiver, but that changes quickly after he starts moving. He has a great burst of speed and the strength to fight off tackles. The Crimson can use him in a variety of ways and Shelton-Mosely has the talent to be utilized right away.


Most Underrated:

Cornell’s Luke Hagy has not gotten quite as much attention as he deserves. That is mostly due to the fact that Cornell went 1-9 last year. During the Big Red’s one win, against Columbia on November 15th, Hagy rushed for 148 yards and two touchdowns and caught a 19-yard touchdown pass. The previous week he eclipsed the 100-yard rushing mark as well. And the following week, in the season finale, Hagy rushed for 111 yards and added 50 receiving yards. He ended the 2014 campaign on a high note and Cornell will once again rely on him to carry as much of the load as possible in 2015.


FCS All-Conference Teams

FCS Conference Previews