#44 Dayton FCS Football Preview

Dayton Flyers

Overall Rank: #44
#2 Pioneer

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Dayton Team Page

2010 Record: (10-1, 8-0)
2010 Postseason: none
Coach: Rick Chamberlin (28-6 at Dayton, 28-6 overall)

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Brian Mack, RB, 411 yards
Passing: Zachary Splain, QB, 35 yards
Receiving: Tyler Hujik, WR, 345 yards
Tackles: Devon Langhorst, DE, 78
Sacks: Devon Langhorst, DE, 14.0
Interceptions: Matt Pfleger, DB, 4

Dayton has continued their success under Coach Rick Chamberlin by taking home a share of the Pioneer League title in 2010. Last year’s team was full of seniors, but the Flyers have continued to bring in some good young talent over the last few years. This year’s group of seniors is extremely small and new leaders will need to be found on both sides of the ball, but the Flyers are talented enough to at least be in the mix for another conference crown.

Dayton was good on the ground in 2010. While quarterback Steve Valentino helped the rushing offense by leading the team with 712 yards on the ground, the Flyers do return two fine running backs. Brian Mack rushed for 411 yards and seven touchdowns as a freshman and is full of potential. The more intriguing option is fellow sophomore Taylor Harris. He only tallied 77 carries last year, but an amazing 13 of those carries ended up in the end zone. Harris has a nice combination of speed and strength and he is tough to get a hold of and bring down. On the defensive end, Dayton ranked second in the entire FCS by allowing just 78.36 yards per game on the ground. The biggest reason for the opposition struggling to move the ball on the ground is the presence of Devon Langhorst. The 6-3 senior tallied an impressive 18.0 tackles-for-loss and 14.0 sacks last season. However, he is not simply a pass rusher. Langhorst was also second on the team with 77 total tackles and if he cannot get the rusher in the backfield, they will not make it too far before Langhorst chases them down.

Replacing Valentino will be the main issue for Dayton all season long or at least heading into the fall. Will Bardo and Zachary Splain are the two candidates who have the best shot at winning over the starting job. Splain has a little more experience in the system, but Bardo has nice size at 6-3 and a strong arm. If he is mentally ready to take over the job, it is probably his to lose. However, Splain is a more mobile quarterback and can do more of what Valentino did in 2010. Either way, the offense will be different with one of those two under center. Without wide receiver Justin Watkins, the quarterback’s job will not be as easy. Tyler Hujik and Luke Bellman are decent receivers, but Dayton will need some other receivers to step up as well. As much trouble as the Flyers will have passing, it could be even worse defending the pass. The secondary allowed 245.73 yards per game last season. That is a ton of yards, especially on a team that did so well getting pressure on the opposing quarterback. The front four will continue to get into the backfield, but the secondary has to find a way to stop somebody. Matt Pfleger is a quality corner and the Flyers are hopeful that sophomore Kyle Sebetic can emerge as big playmaker as well. Those two are a nice group to work around, but even if they improve quite a bit, the pass defense will still be pretty bad.

The Bottom Line:
There are questions and some key players to replace, but if Dayton can find a new quarterback, this is a team that can stay towards the top of the conference standings. They may take a small step backwards, especially with a trip to Jacksonville on the schedule this year, but Coach Chamberlin has this program steadily hanging around and they will not take too much of a fall this year even while transitioning to a new quarterback.

Projected Postseason: none

2010 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 173.55 (37th in nation, 3rd in conference)
Passing Offense: 207.00 (55, 7)
Total Offense: 380.55 (35, 2)
Scoring Offense: 35.45 (6, 2)
Rushing Defense: 78.36 (2, 1)
Pass Defense: 245.73 (108, 10)
Total Defense: 324.09 (33, 3)
Scoring Defense: 21.09 (31, 4)
Turnover Margin: 1.00 (8, 2)
Sacks: 3.55 (2, 1)
Sacks Allowed: 1.45 (32, 1)