#39 Colgate FCS Football 2016 Preview

Colgate Raiders
Overall Rank: #39
#2 Patriot
Colgate is coming off of a magical 2015 campaign. After losing three straight tough non-conference games to begin the year, Colgate cruised to a 6-0 mark in Patriot League play, including a very impressive 31-29 home win over Fordham. Most figured the Raiders would be happy just to get to the playoffs, but they had other plans. Colgate hit the road and beat New Hampshire in the first round and James Madison in the second round. The run ended against Sam Houston State in the quarterfinals, but that was a program building season.
2015 Record: 9-5, 6-0
2015 Postseason: FCS Playoffs
Coach: Dan Hunt (14-12 at Colgate, 14-12 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Chris Young
Defensive Coordinator: Paul Shaffner
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Jake Melville, QB, 1,073 yards
Passing: Jake Melville, QB, 2,552 yards
Receiving: John Maddaluna, WR, 910 yards
Tackles: Kyle Diener, LB, 129
Sacks: Pat Afriyie, DL, 9.5
Interceptions: Chris Morgan, LB, 2; Joe Fiqueroa, DB, 2; Tyler Castillo, DB, 2
Other Key Returnees: RB James Holland, WR Alex Greenawalt, OL Jordi Dalmau, DL Brett Field, LB Charles Cairnie, DB Christian Hardegree
Key Losses: RB Demetrius Russell, TE John Quazza, OL John Weber, DL Alex Campbell, LB Cameron Buttermore, DB Ty McCollum
Coach Dan Hunt’s formula for success was establishing a ground game and stopping other teams from doing so. It worked and that will be the plan again. Quarterback Jake Melville rushed for 1,073 yards and 11 scores last season and is one of the most dynamic quarterbacks in the FCS. On top of all of those rushing yards, he threw for 2,552 yards and 11 touchdowns, while tossing just two interceptions. It is that control of the ball that makes Colgate such a dangerous offense. And they are pretty explosive at times too. Joining Melville in the ground attack is James Holland. As a sophomore last season, the 5-9, 205 pound back rushed for 732 yards and 16 touchdowns. Senior John Wilkins will get plenty of carries now that Demetrius Russell is gone and he is an experienced and very capable backup. On the other side of the ball, the front seven will again be led by Pat Afiyie and Kyle Diener. Afiyie, a junior defensive end, led the Raiders with 9.5 sacks and 17.5 tackles-for-loss. With the help of Brett Field, the line will once again garner plenty of sacks and get into the backfield on a consistent basis. If the opposition manages to get past the line on the ground, Diener and the rest of the linebackers will be waiting. Diener led the conference with 129 tackles and Charles Cairnie is also back after tallying 79 as a junior.
Melville is a decent and efficient passer, but the passing offense ranked last in the Patriot League. With most of the receiving threats returning, there should be more success through the air…if Colgate needs to go to the air. John Maddaluna caught 62 passes for 910 yards, while Alex Greenawalt added 40 catches for 598 yards and five scores. Losing tight end John Quazza is a concern though. He was a great short target for Melville. The problems on defense come from the secondary, which allowed 248.1 yards per game. There is experience though with Joe Fiqueroa, Tyler Castillo and Christian Hardegree all returning; however, losing Ty McCollum is a big problem. He broke-up 14 passes and picked off three passes and was a great shutdown corner.
The Bottom Line:
This will be a good Colgate team again, but things will not likely go as well as they did in 2015. Once again the non-conference slate is tough with games against Syracuse, Yale, Richmond and Cornell. But, of course, it is the conference play where Colgate will need to perform well in order to get back to the playoffs. The big game will be on November 5th when the Raiders go to Fordham. This time around, with the game in New York, Colgate will find it difficult to repeat as Patriot League champions.
Projected Postseason: None
2015 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 206.4 (23rd in nation, 1st in conference)
Passing Offense: 182.3 (82, 7)
Total Offense: 388.6 (54, 4)
Scoring Offense: 25.4 (67, 4)
Rushing Defense: 150.1 (44, 2)
Pass Defense: 248.1 (107, 5)
Total Defense: 398.2 (72, 4)
Scoring Defense: 28.6 (76, 4)
Turnover Margin: 0.71 (15, 3)
Sacks: 2.57 (26, 2)
Sacks Allowed: 0.93 (10, 1)