#19 Austin Peay 2018 FCS Football Preview

Austin Peay Governors
Overall Rank: #19
#2 Ohio Valley
 Austin Peay Logo
Austin Peay was one of the best stories of FCS Football in 2017 as the Governors snapped a 29 game losing streak and narrowly missed the FCS playoffs after wining eight games. Coach Will Healy and his staff bounced back from a bumpy 2016 season when Austin Peay went 0-11 and got the team to buy in to their culture. After a 69-13 win over Morehead State in week three last season, the Governors took off and now have the belief that they can win at a high level heading into this season.
2017 Record: 8-4, 7-1
2017 Postseason: None
Coach: Will Healy (8-15 at Austin Peay, 8-15 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Wesley Satterfield
Defensive Coordinator: Brandon Cooper
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Ahmaad Tanner, RB, 697 yards
Passing: Jeremiah Oatsvall, QB, 1,148 yards
Receiving: DJ Montgomery, WR, 228 yards
Tackles: Gunnar Scholato, LB, 98
Sacks: Jaison Williams, DL, 5.0
Interceptions: Keawvis Cummings, DB, 3
Other Key Returnees: RB Kentel Williams, QB Javaughn Craig, DB Kordell Jackson, DB Juntarius Bryant, DB Malik Davis, DL Corey Brown, P Devin Stuart, K Cole Phillips, K Logan Birchfield, OT Kyle Anderton, OG Ryan Rockensuess, OL Byron Glass, DL Nate Howard
Key Losses: WR Kyran Moore, WR Gorel Soumare, DB Malik Boynton, WLB Jeremiah Mitchell, DB James Tobin, DT Jule Pace
Austin Peay did an excellent job of running the football last season as they averaged 258.8 yards per game on the ground. Ahmaad Tanner rushed for 697 yards in 2017 and, along with Kentel Williams, will form a very nice 1-2 punch in the backfield. The offensive line should only continue to get better as several starters are back. Kyle Anderton and Ryan Rockensuess should be two of the top linemen in the Ohio Valley Conference and that will only help the efficiency of the offense. Jeremiah Oatsvall will be the starting quarterback in 2018 and Oatsvall will be looking to build upon a solid freshman season. The passing game will be something that has to improve a little bit as teams will stack nine in the box to stop the run. DJ Montgomery is the leading returning wide receiver as he caught 19 passes for 228 yards in 2017. Look for Montgomery to get more opportunities this fall with the departure of Kyran Moore.
Jaison Williams had a strong freshman season, racking up five sacks in eight games along with 5.5 tackles for loss. If Williams can stay healthy all season long those numbers should double, which would only elevate the Governors defense. Nate Howard is in position for another good season along the defensive line after collecting four sacks in 2017. Gunnar Scholato is the heart and soul of the Austin Peay defense at linebacker. Scholato is expected to be in the mix for Defensive Player of the Year in the Ohio Valley Conference. In the secondary, it will be up to Malik Davis and Juantarius Bryant to pick up the slack for the lost production of Malik Boynton. Davis and Bryant have a nose for the football as they were two of the top four tacklers in 2017. Devin Stuart is back at punter and he should do a solid job of flipping field position. The field goal kicking needs to be cleaned up as the Governors made only five out of nine field goals last season.
The Bottom Line:
Austin Peay will play at Georgia to kickoff the 2018 season and will have the stage of playing on ESPN. The conference schedule starts off with two straight road games at UT-Martin and Jacksonville State. The key for the Governors in those two games will be to get a split at minimum. If that happens they will be in great shape as Austin Peay finishes the season with three of their last four games at home. Bottom line, the Governors will not be able to sneak up on anyone this fall but they have enough returning experience in key spots that this team should get into the FCS Playoffs with a nine-win regular season.
Projected Postseason: FCS Playoffs
2017 Team Stats
Rushing Offense: 258.8 (6th in nation, 1st in conference)
Passing Offense: 128.4 (114, 9)
Total Offense: 387.2 (49, 1)
Scoring Offense: 27.3 (50, 2)
Rushing Defense: 123.3 (27, 3)
Pass Defense: 186.8 (27, 5)
Total Defense: 310.1 (17, 4)
Scoring Defense: 24.8 (50, 5)
Turnover Margin: 0.00 (60, 5)
Sacks: 2.00 (60, 5)
Sacks Allowed: 0.83 (9, 2)
HERO Sports 2018 Recruit Rankings:
#40 Blake Watson
#75 Authur Brantley
#85 Jalyn Shelton
#194 LaDerrick Bell