#32 Sacramento State 2018 FCS Football Preview

Sacramento State Hornets
Overall Rank: #32
#6 Big Sky
 Sacramento State Logo
Sacramento State got off to a 2-3 start in 2017, but finished the season strong as the Hornets went 5-1 down the stretch. Coach Jody Sears appears to have stabilized the program after a tough 2-9 season in 2016. The key to the strong finish in November for Sacramento State was the explosion of the offense. The Hornets scored 151 points in three wins over Northern Colorado, Cal Poly, and UC Davis. Now it will be up to the Hornets to get off to a faster start in 2018 if they are going to win seven or more games in 2018.
2017 Record: 7-4, 6-2
2017 Postseason: None
Coach: Jody Sears (18-27 at Sacramento State, 22-46 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Paul Wulff, Luke Huard
Defensive Coordinator: Samuel Lawanson
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: BJ Perkinson, RB, 591 yards
Passing: Kevin Thomson, QB, 1,828 yards
Receiving: Andre Lindsey, WR, 756 yards
Tackles: Mister Harriel, DB, 87
Sacks: George Obinna, DL, 8.5
Interceptions: Dre Terrell, DB, 5
Other Key Returnees: RB Elijah Dotson, WR Jaelin Ratliff, WR Johnnie Rucker, OL Taylor Tappin, OL Ivan Espiritu, OL Wyatt Ming, DL Dariyn Choates, DL Sepererini Togiai Aumua, K Devin Medeiros, P Blake Cuzzupoli, DB Austin Clark, DB Immanuel Anderson, DB Marcus Bruce, LB Manoah Pearson, LB Malcolm Thomas
Key Losses: WR Isiah Hennie, RB Joseph Ajeigbe, TE Stone Sander, OL Jonathan Bade, DL Ben Sorensen, DB Ernest Jenkins,
This should be a very balanced offensive attack as quarterback Kevin Thomson will be back at this season. Thomson completed 55.4 percent of his passes, which on the surface is not ideal, but he did a nice job of not making that critical mistake last season. Thomson threw 17 touchdown passes and just three interceptions. That is a strong touchdown to interception ratio that will give the Hornets a chance to win every week. BJ Perkinson and Elijah Dotson will form a nice 1-2 punch at running back to help balance out the offensive attack. Perkinson rushed for 591 yards in 2017 and averaged 7.0 yards per carry as a freshman and should only get better after another offseason. Seniors Andre Lindsey and Jaelin Ratliff will anchor the wide receiver corps in 2018. Lindsey and Ratliff combined to catch 50 passes in 2017 and should be able to combine for about 75 this season with the graduation of Isaiah Hennie.
This unit did an excellent job of rushing the passer last season, leading all of the FCS in sacks per game. George Obinna had 8.5 sacks and is back to lead an experienced defensive line. Manoah Pearson and Malcolm Thomas will solidify the linebacker group as they combined for 95 tackles and 6.0 sacks between the two of them in 2017. The secondary brings back plenty of experience and playmaking ability in 2018. Mister Harriel is the leading returning tackler from last season with 87, while Dre Terrell had five interceptions. Consistency is going to be key for Sacramento State in the secondary as they did allow 253.4 passing yards per game last season.
The Bottom Line:
The Hornets have a manageable start to the schedule with a home game against St. Francis (IL) to open the 2018 season. A trip to play San Diego State is on the schedule for week two followed by road games at Northern Colorado and Montana. The game against the Grizzlies will be a key one in Big Sky as they are in transition with the return of head coach Bobby Hauck to Missoula. The rest of the schedule is a bit more balanced with four of the final seven games taking place at home. If the defense can improve even a little bit, then it is very realistic to expect another seven-win season in 2018 for Sacramento State.
Projected Postseason: None
2017 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 225.8 (14th in nation, 3rd in conference)
Passing Offense: 216.0 (49, 10)
Total Offense: 441.8 (14, 4)
Scoring Offense: 37.6 (5, 1)
Rushing Defense: 154.6 (65, 4)
Pass Defense: 253.4 (105, 8)
Total Defense: 408.0 (89, 4)
Scoring Defense: 29.7 (94, 6)
Turnover Margin: 1.27 (6, 1)
Sacks: 3.91 (1, 1)
Sacks Allowed: 1.45 (31, 3)
HERO Sports 2018 Recruit Rankings:
#80 Jarrell Anderson
#124 Armon Bailey