#18 Delaware 2018 FCS Football Preview

Delaware Blue Hens
Overall Rank: #18
#5 CAA
 Delaware Logo
Since they went to the championship game in 2010, Delaware has not been back to the playoffs. Coach Danny Rocco had a good debut season though, boosting the team’s win total to seven after back-to-back losing seasons. That could have been enough for the Blue Hens to make the playoffs and they certainly had a case with some quality CAA wins on the schedule. But year two under Coach Rocco will bring more expectations and the hope that this team will not have to rely quite as much on the committee to end their playoff drought.
2017 Record: 7-4, 5-3
2017 Postseason: None
Coach: Danny Rocco (7-4 at Delaware, 97-46 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Matt Simon
Defensive Coordinator: Chris Cosh
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Kani Kane, RB, 594 yards
Passing: J.P. Caruso, QB, 755 yards
Receiving: Jamie Jarmon, WR, 327 yards
Tackles: Troy Reeder, LB, 89
Sacks: Colby Reeder, LB, 2.0
Interceptions: Nasir Adderley, S, 5
Other Key Returnees: RB Kareem Williams, QB Joe Walker, TE Charles Scarff, DB Ray Jones, DB Nijuel Hill, DB Malcolm Brown, K Frank Raggo, P Nick Pritchard
Key Losses: WR Diante Cherry, OL Brody Kern, OL Jake Trump, DL Bilal Nichols, DL Blaine Woodson, LB Jalen Kindle
J.P. Caruso went 4-2 as the starting quarterback last year and the hope is that the senior can emerge as a consistent and efficient quarterback in 2018. Last season he threw for 614 yards and four touchdowns, but was intercepted four times and completed just 54.8 percent of his passes. Joe Walker also returns, but it is Boston College transfer Darius Wade who could be the answer under center. He has started six games for the Eagles and can do plenty of damage with his legs as well as his arm. With more consistency at quarterback, wide receiver Jamie Jarmon would be much more productive. As long as the passing game struggles, Delaware will continue to rely on the ground game. Kani Kane and Kareem Williams were the team’s top two rushers a season ago and are back to attempt to be more productive in 2018. But they will again find yards tough to come by, at least in large chunks, if the passing game cannot help out.  
It was the defense that got Delaware to the cusp of the playoffs last season. If they reach the playoffs in 2018, it will be the defense that gets them there. The front line has some rebuilding to do, but linebackers Troy Reeder and Charles Bell are two of the best in the conference. Reeder led the team with 89 tackles last year and Bell returns after missing much of 2017 with an injury. He was the team’s leading tackler in 2015 and 2016. Nasir Adderley highlights the secondary. He recorded 78 tackles and an impressive five interceptions as a junior. With Ray Jones, Nijuel Hill and Malcolm Brown joining Adderley, the secondary has plenty of experience.
The Bottom Line:
Delaware’s defense can only take this team so far. The offense must improve if the Blue Hens hope to take another step forward. The schedule starts out easy enough with home dates with Rhode Island, Lafayette and Cornell. That should give this team some time to find their offensive identity. But after those three games it gets very difficult with games against North Dakota State, Richmond, Elon and New Hampshire. Delaware must be ready for that stretch of games or the playoff hope could quickly fade away.
Projected Postseason: FCS Playoffs
2017 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 192.5 (27th in nation, 2nd in conference)
Passing Offense: 124.5 (117, 12)
Total Offense: 317.0 (90, 8)
Scoring Offense: 21.2 (81, 7)
Rushing Defense: 126.2 (29, 5)
Pass Defense: 179.3 (22, 3)
Total Defense: 305.5 (15, 3)
Scoring Defense: 16.8 (10, 3)
Turnover Margin: 1.00 (10, 2)
Sacks: 1.64 (87, 11)
Sacks Allowed: 1.82 (47, 2)
HERO Sports 2018 Recruit Rankings:
#60 Matt Palmer
#217 Stevon Brown