#41 Colgate FCS Football 2017 Preview

Colgate Raiders
Overall Rank: #41
#3 Patriot
Colgate was very close to having another great season. Of their four losses against FCS opponents, only the 45-31 loss to eventual Patriot League champion Lehigh was by more than one touchdown. The Raiders were right in every game. Coach Dan Hunt will look to turn those close losses into close wins in 2017, but he needs to find a new quarterback and replace eight starters on defense.
2016 Record: 5-5, 4-2
2016 Postseason: None
Coach: Dan Hunt (19-17 at Colgate, 19-17 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Chris Young
Defensive Coordinator: Paul Shaffner
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Keyon Washington, RB, 765 yards
Passing: Sage Atwood, QB, 16 yards
Receiving: Alex Greenawalt, WR, 411 yards
Tackles: Pat Afriyie, DL, 51
Sacks: Pat Afriyie, DL, 10.0
Interceptions: Tyler Castillo, DB, 3
Other Key Returnees: RB James Holland, TE Nick Martinsen, OL Ryan Paulish, LB Trent Williams
Key Losses: QB Jake Melville, WR John Maddaluna, OL Jordi Dalmau, LB Kyle Diener, DB Chris Morgan, LB Charles Cairnie, DL Brett Field, DB Joe Figueroa, DL Alex Campbell
Jake Melville is gone after throwing for 2,028 yards and rushing for 830 more. He was the catalyst of the offense and replacing him will not be easy. However, there is a lot of experience on the rest of the unit so that will help the new quarterback settle into a starting role. Sage Attwood was Melville’s backup last year, but only attempted two passes. Carmine Scarfone is another quarterback who can make plays with his feet as well as his arm and his athleticism will keep him in the starting quarterback hunt. Whoever is at quarterback will have plenty of talented receivers to work with, even with the loss of leading receiver John Maddaluna. Alex Greenawalt, Thomas Ives and Owen Rockett are all capable of emerging as go-to targets. The situation at running back is even better. Keyon Washington returns after rushing for 765 yards last season, but James Holland is back and healthy too. Holland was a second-team All-Patriot selection in 2015 after rushing for 732 yards and 16 touchdowns. He missed most of last season and suddenly the Colgate backfield has two experienced and talented rushers.
There is a lot of work to do on defense, but there are a few leaders who Coach Hunt can build around. Pat Afriyie is a superstar on the line, recording 10.0 sacks and 21.0 tackles-for-loss in 2016. He is ready for another All-American season as a senior. Some inexperienced players will have to fill in around him, but players like Caleb Fell are ready for a bigger role. Trent Williams is the most experienced returning linebacker, but others like T.J. Holl, Nick Ionelli and Dillon Deluliis gained some experience last season. Deluliis, a 5-10 junior, is one to watch. The secondary is where most of the returning starters are located. Ty Castillo, who picked off a team high three passes, highlights an experienced group in the secondary. Colgate may not have the best rush defense in the FCS again in 2017, but as long as some pieces can be found to fill in around Afriyie on the line, the pass rush will continue to be strong and the secondary will use their experience to make it far less easy for the opposition to throw against the Raiders.
The Bottom Line:
Just like last year, Colgate should be able to beat the teams they should beat within Patriot League action. However, by the time Colgate reaches those teams on the schedule, they could be 0-2. They start conference play against Lehigh and Fordham on October 7th and 14th, respectively. The good news is those two games are at home. The bad news is those are two very good teams and Colgate could be beaten down by a non-conference slate that includes Cal Poly, Richmond and Buffalo.
Projected Postseason: None
2016 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 206.6 (23rd in nation, 2nd in conference)
Passing Offense: 204.4 (69, 5)
Total Offense: 411.0 (31, 3)
Scoring Offense: 31.1 (30, 3)
Rushing Defense: 69.4 (1, 1)
Pass Defense: 274.7 (115, 7)
Total Defense: 344.1 (29, 1)
Scoring Defense: 23.4 (31, 2)
Turnover Margin: 0.60 (21, 3)
Sacks: 3.40 (2, 1)
Sacks Allowed: 0.90 (7, 1)
HERO Sports 2017 Recruit Rankings:
#134 Charles Caine