#34 North Carolina A&T FCS Football 2015 Preview

George Hammond

North Carolina A&T Aggies

Overall Rank: #34
#34 North Carolina A&T FCS Football 2015 Preview
North Carolina A&T Team Page


North Carolina A&T had control of first place and the automatic FCS playoff bid that goes with it last fall, but in what many called the biggest game in the series since 1975, the Aggies lost to rival North Carolina Central 21-14 in the regular season finale. The result? Five teams, including North Carolina A&T, finished at 6-2 in the MEAC with Morgan State earning the FCS playoff bid on a tiebreaker. During the offseason, MEAC officials decided to relinquish its auto bid for the playoffs to participate in the Celebration Bowl against the Southwestern Athletic Conference champion on December 19. Fifth-year coach Rod Broadway has made changes to his coaching staff in hopes of producing more offense as Chip Hester has been promoted to offensive coordinator. He was in charge of wide receivers last year in a season where the Aggies had more receptions (175) than any team in program history.
2014 Record: 9-3, 6-2
2014 Postseason: None
Coach: Rod Broadway (28-17 at North Carolina A&T, 96-40 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Chip Hester
Defensive Coordinator: Sam Washington

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Tarik Cohen, RB, 1,340 yards
Passing: None
Receiving: Denzel Keyes, WR, 361 yards
Tackles: Landis Shoffner, DL, 86
Sacks: Marquis Ragland, DL, 8
Interceptions: Tony McRae, CB, 5

Other Key Returnees: OL Brandon Parker, OL Wes Cole, LB Denzel Jones, DE Angelo Keyes, DE Ken Melton, LB Marcus Albert, RB Amos Williams, WR Xavier Griffin, WR Darren Bullock.

Key Losses: OL Ronald Canty, OL William Ray Robinson III, LB D’Vonte Grant, CB Donald Mattocks, DE Daniel Pinnix.

The Aggies possess one of the top running backs in the nation in junior Tarik Cohen, who had a 6.8 yards per carry average in 2014 (third in FCS). Cohen was named MEAC’s co-offensive player of the year and had 1,340 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns. But he’s not the only playmaker. Wide receiver Denzel Keyes, a 6-4 junior, created a lot of buzz during the spring game and is expected to be the No. 1 target for projected quarterback Lamar Raynard, who was 22-of-36 for 230 yards and two TDs in the spring game. All-conference cornerback Tony McRae returns and gives North Carolina A&T a strong threat in the return game. Coach Broadway has emphasized defense since his arrival and although there are holes to fill, three-quarters of the defensive line returns, including top tackler Landis Shoffner.

The quarterback situation is uncertain because of the absence of Kwashaun Quick. Last year’s starter was arrested in March on drug charges and ultimately dismissed from the team in April. Not only did Quick pass for 1,418 yards and 13 touchdowns, but he also rushed for 610 yards. That’s a big void to fill. Three key members from last year’s defense are gone, too. Linebacker D’Vonte Grant, one of the top tacklers in school history, is gone as is All-American cornerback Donald Mattocks and defensive end Daniel Pinnix. The Aggies also must replace two key offensive linemen: All-American Ronald Canty and William Ray Robinson III.

The Bottom Line:
Broadway hinted during the offseason that the intensity level will be ratcheted up this season on both sides of the football. The void left by Quick’s absence is hard to gauge, but the Aggies had to like what they saw from Raynard in the spring game. The Aggies meet North Carolina for the first time as Broadway is a 1977 graduate of UNC and was an assistant in 2001-02. There are several coaching changes in the conference and questions surrounding many schools so it’s difficult to predict what will happen other than to say the MEAC race could be just as tight as the one that produced a five-way tie in 2014. If the Aggies can get decent production from the quarterback spot, they should be in the hunt.

Projected Postseason: None

2014 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 217.0 (19th in nation, 1st in conference)
Passing Offense: 158.3 (101, 7)
Total Offense: 375.3 (68, 4)
Scoring Offense: 32.3 (29, 1)  
Rushing Defense: 130.3 (24, 4)
Pass Defense: 186.9 (24, 6)
Total Defense: 317.2 (16, 3)
Scoring Defense: 13.9 (2, 1)
Turnover Margin: 1.00 (3, 1)
Sacks: 3.00 (9, 2)
Sacks Allowed: 2.08 (64, 4)


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