#43 Dayton FCS Football 2017 Preview

Dayton Flyers
Overall Rank: #43
#2 Pioneer
Dayton’s 2016 season came down to one game in September. The Flyers lost at San Diego 34-22 on September 24th. The Flyers did not lose again, but San Diego went on to win the conference’s automatic bid to the playoffs and win the Pioneer League’s first ever playoff game. Meanwhile, Dayton had to sit at home and watch. There are certainly other teams that Dayton cannot overlook, but once again the showdown with San Diego should have massive implications.
2016 Record: 9-2, 7-1
2016 Postseason: None
Coach: Rick Chamberlin (74-27 at Dayton, 74-27 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Austin King
Defensive Coordinator: Landon Fox
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Alex Jeske, QB, 676 yards
Passing: Alex Jeske, QB, 1,936 yards
Receiving: Jack Euritt, WR, 540 yards
Tackles: Jack Crain, LB, 79
Sacks: Nick Surges, DE, 8.5
Interceptions: Christian Searles, CB, 5; David Leisring, S, 5
Other Key Returnees: RB Tucker Yinger, WR Ryan Skibinski, P Sean Smith
Key Losses: RB Jared Ruffing, OL Shane Toub, OL Jim Vogel, DE Mike Gray, LB Christopher Beaschler, CB Cameron Stubbs, S Chris Hagan, K William Will
The Flyers are not a prolific passing team, but junior quarterback Alex Jeske can make plays. Last season he threw for 1,936 yards and 15 touchdowns. He completed a decent 56.2 percent of his passes and was intercepted just six times. Jeske could be more efficient in the passing game though. With the return of top receivers Jack Euritt and Ryan Skibinski, the passing game should at least be serviceable. However, Euritt needs to stay healthy or a player like J.P. Forcucci will be asked to step up and provide a consistent deep threat. It is on the ground where Dayton does most of their damage. Jeske spearheads that effort as well and led the team with 676 rushing yards and 14 rushing touchdowns. Tucker Yinger added 598 yards as the team’s most prolific running back. Sean Prophit showed some potential as a freshman and will likely replace the departed Jared Ruffing as the second back behind Yinger.
Dayton has relied heavily on their defense, but the unit will look much different without Christopher Beaschler and Chris Hagan. Beaschler was the leader in the middle of the defense and led the Flyers with 88 tackles in 2016. Hagan was close behind with 80. Jack Crain figures to step into a starring role after posting 79 tackles last season, but younger players like Andrew McCormick will have to step up their production as well. On the line, Nick Surges will continue the dangerous Dayton pass rush with some help from Nate Marotta. The secondary will again be led by Christian Searles. The cornerback picked off five passes last year and is one of the best in the Pioneer League. With Reagan Malas and David Leisring manning the safety spots, this should be a Dayton team that once again creates a ton of turnovers.
The Bottom Line:
And it is those turnovers that make it so difficult to beat Dayton. The Flyers will put their offense in a good position to score and they have enough firepower to take advantage of that. The conference slate begins with a trip to Morehead State, but right after that, on September 30th, is the big game against San Diego. This time though it is in Dayton and the Flyers will want a little revenge. With a trip to Drake the following week, the Flyers will have to be careful not to overlook a talented Bulldogs team. But those two games will likely, eventually, decide the PFL champion.
Projected Postseason: None
2016 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 208.8 (20th in nation, 3rd in conference)
Passing Offense: 176.0 (94, 10)
Total Offense: 384.8 (57, 6)
Scoring Offense: 32.4 (24, 3)
Rushing Defense: 133.5 (33, 4)
Pass Defense: 226.0 (73, 8)
Total Defense: 359.5 (42, 3)
Scoring Defense: 19.8 (10, 2)
Turnover Margin: 1.27 (6, 1)
Sacks: 2.55 (22, 2)
Sacks Allowed: 1.55 (36, 6)