#31 Monmouth 2018 FCS Football Preview

Monmouth Hawks
Overall Rank: #31
#2 Big South
 Monmouth Logo
Monmouth reached their first ever playoff appearance in 2017 and hope to build off that success this season. The Hawks did not find much success in the playoffs last year though, falling 46-7 at Northern Iowa in the first round. But Monmouth does return enough talent to push Kennesaw State for a Big South title and a return trip to the playoffs.
2017 Record: 9-3, 4-1
2017 Postseason: FCS Playoffs
Coach: Kevin Callahan (144-118 at Monmouth, 144-118 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Kevin Morris
Defensive Coordinator: Andy Bobik
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Pete Guerriero, RB, 1,061 yards
Passing: Kenji Bahar, QB, 2,368 yards
Receiving: Reggie White, WR, 874 yards
Tackles: Diego Zubieta, LB, 62
Sacks: Kurt Aumer, DL, 2.5
Interceptions: Tymere Berry, DB, 2
Other Key Returnees: RB Eric Zokouri, WR Lonnie Moore, WR Vinny Grasso, TE Jake Powell
Key Losses: RB Michael Jolly, OL Alex Thompson, OL Matt Stoneberg, DB Mike Basile, DL Manny Maragoto, DB Teddie Martinez, DB Kamau Dumas, DB Agbai Iroha
Monmouth returns ten offensive players with significant starting experience so there are high hopes that this will again be a very potent offense. Quarterback Kenji Bahar threw for 2,368 yards and 16 touchdowns as a sophomore and now has 15 starts under his belt. If he can avoid throwing as many interceptions, this will be a much more efficient offense. With every player back who caught at least ten passes last year, the passing game should be in good shape. Reggie White, Jr. is the top pass catcher after tallying 74 catches for 874 yards and eight scores. Vinny Grasso, Lonnie Moore and tight end Jake Powell are all consistent pass catchers too. Pete Guerriero was a pleasant surprise as a freshman, rushing for 1,061 yards and nine touchdowns. Devell Jones is the big, bruising back who scored 11 times on just 62 rushes. The potential problem is on the offensive line where Matt Stoneberg and Alex Thompson need to be replaced. Russ Clayton, Pete Righi and Ryan Wetzel are all talented seniors though so there should not be too much of a drop off on the line, if any.
The defense lost much more than the offense. Most notable is Mike Basile, who again led the team with 126 tackles during his senior season. The secondary also lost Teddie Martinez, Kamau Dumas and Agbai Iroha and that leaves very little experience in a unit that allowed over 250 yards per game through the air in 2017. Diego Zubieta, who ranked second on the team with 62 tackles, will be the new leader of the linebackers. The front line will miss Manny Maragoto and his 5.0 sacks and now it will be up to Kurt Aumer to lead the pass rush.
The Bottom Line:
Kennesaw State is the clear favorite in the Big South, but the conference has now set a precedent for getting multiple teams into the playoffs. The best news for Monmouth when it comes to their shot at winning the Big South title is that both Charleston Southern and Kennesaw State come to West Long Branch, New Jersey. Those two back-to-back games on November 3rd and November 10th will likely decide the regular season Big South champion.
Projected Postseason: None
2017 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 198.3 (22nd in nation, 2nd in conference)
Passing Offense: 197.3 (72, 1)
Total Offense: 395.7 (45, 2)
Scoring Offense: 32.8 (21, 1)
Rushing Defense: 140.6 (43, 3)
Pass Defense: 251.2 (102, 5)
Total Defense: 391.8 (78, 3)
Scoring Defense: 27.6 (76, 3)
Turnover Margin: -0.42 (88, 4)
Sacks: 1.92 (64, 3)
Sacks Allowed: 1.58 (36, 3)