#43 Robert Morris FCS Football Preview

Robert Morris Colonials

Overall Rank: #43
#2 Northeast

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Robert Morris Team Page

2010 Record: (8-3, 7-1)
2010 Postseason: FCS Playoffs
Coach: Joe Walton (130-70-1 at Robert Morris, 103-70-1 overall)

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Jeff Sinclair, QB, 180 yards
Passing: Jeff Sinclair, QB, 1,920 yards
Receiving: Shadrae King, TE, 531 yards
Tackles: Nolan Nearhoof, DE, 49
Sacks: Nolan Nearhoof, DE, 5.5
Interceptions: Eric Lowry, DB, 2; Ben Ridgeley, DB, 2

Robert Morris made their first trip to the FCS Playoffs after finishing tied with Central Connecticut State with a 7-1 conference mark. Their head-to-head victory over the Blue Devils gave RMU and Coach Joe Walton the automatic Berth. Coach Walton has some rebuilding to do on offense and at the running back position, but this is a team that should compete for another NEC title.

The offense will likely turn from a ground orientated attack to an aerial attack. Quarterback Jeff Sinclair threw for 1,920 yards and 22 touchdowns last season and is poised for a big junior season. Once again it will be tight end Shadrae King who will be the beneficiary of Sinclair’s passing ability. King easily led the Colonials with 43 receptions in 2010 and seven of them went for touchdowns. Wide receiver Anthony Coleman caught five touchdown passes and is a nice option, but Robert Morris needs to find a new receiver that can stretch the field to replace T.J. Green. The interior of the offensive line returns all three starters from a season ago, led by Brad Rodgers and they should do a fine job keeping Sinclair on his feet. Sinclair is a mobile quarterback anyway and he can make plays with his feet if the line does break down.

RMU sported the best defense in the Northeast Conference during their title run, but a ton of starters are gone. This unit needs to rebuild in a major way. However, the front four has defensive Player of the Year favorite Nolan Nearhoof to lead the way. The 6-2 junior spent most of last season in the opposing backfield and there is little reason to think anybody can stop him this season. Steve Mitchell is back too, giving RMU one of the best defensive end duos in all of the FCS. Linebacker Brad Banas will need to emerge as the leader of an otherwise inexperience group of linebackers. The experience in the secondary is even more of an issue. The pass defense was not the strong point of the RMU defense and now they have to replace all four starters. The good news is players like Eric Lowry and Ben Ridgeley at least have some experience.

The Bottom Line:
Sinclair will be the leader of this team, but last year he had running back Myles Russ to fall back on. Russ tallied 1,265 rushing yards and 11 total touchdowns. The Colonials may spend some more time in the air, but they still need a ground game to keep the defense honest. If they fail to do so, Robert Morris will struggle offensively. However, a solid offensive line should at least provide some semblance of a ground game even if a running back fails to even come close to being as productive as Russ.

Projected Postseason: none

2010 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 183.73 (29th in nation, 2nd in conference)
Passing Offense: 174.55 (77, 6)
Total Offense: 358.27 (54, 4)
Scoring Offense: 28.45 (36, 2)
Rushing Defense: 113.82 (18, 1)
Pass Defense: 198.82 (52, 6)
Total Defense: 312.64 (23, 1)
Scoring Defense: 20.55 (27, 1)
Turnover Margin: .82 (12, 1)
Sacks: 1.82 (57, 3)
Sacks Allowed: 1.36 (28, 3)