#17 Maine FCS Football 2019 Preview

Maine Black Bears
Overall Rank: #17
#4 CAA
 Maine Logo
Maine returned to the playoffs for the first time since 2013 and made a nice playoff run too. The reigning CAA champions knocked off Jacksonville State and Weber State before falling to Eastern Washington in the semifinals. The Black Bears had to deal with their coach leaving for an assistant job at Minnesota, but they promoted offensive coordinator Nick Charlton to take over the program and it should be a very smooth transition.
2018 Record: 10-4, 7-1
2018 Postseason: FCS Playoffs
Coach: Nick Charlton (0-0 at Maine, 0-0 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Andrew Dresner
Defensive Coordinator: Michael Ryan
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Joe Fitzpatrick, RB, 476 yards
Passing: Chris Ferguson, QB, 2,372 yards
Receiving: Earnest Edwards, WR, 839 yards
Tackles: Deshawn Stevens, LB, 120
Sacks: Kayon Whitaker, DL, 9.5
Interceptions: Manny Patterson, DB, 3; Richard Carr, DB, 3
Other Key Returnees: WR Jaquan Blair, LB Taji Lowe, OL Liam Dobson, DB Katley Joseph, DL Charles Mitchell
Key Losses: RB Ramon Jefferson, WR Micah Wright, TE Drew Belcher, LB Sterling Sheffield, DB Jeffery DeVaughn, DB Darrius Hart
Chris Ferguson is a steady, experienced quarterback who enters his junior campaign after throwing for 2,372 yards and 22 touchdowns. Earnest Edwards and Jaquan Blair will again be Ferguson’s top target. Those two combined to catch 96 passes for 1,411 yards and 15 touchdowns. The ground game lost 1,000 yard rusher Ramon Jefferson, but Emmanuel Reed and Joe Fitzpatrick are more than ready to lead the ground attack behind a very talented offensive line. Reed comes from Buffalo where he rushed for 1,244 yards over three seasons. Fitzpatrick tallied 476 yards and four scores as Jefferson’s backup.
Maine led the FCS in rush defense, allowing a mere 79.2 yards per game. This program is known for their great defense and this could be their best group in quite some time. Maine ranked fourth in the nation with 3.36 sacks per game. Defensive end Kayon Whitaker tallied 9.5 sacks on the year and Charles Mitchell is also back on the front line. Deshawn Stevens is the star of the defense. The linebacker tallied 120 tackles and 9.0 sacks. He will again team up with fellow linebacker Taji Lowe who added 85 tackles. Katley Joseph, Manny Patterson and Richard Carr form the heart of an experienced secondary.
The Bottom Line:
This is an experienced and talented team, but there are some questions. But after last year’s surprisingly brilliant campaign, do not be surprised if Maine ends up back at the top of the CAA. The Black Bears will be tested early. After a home date against Sacred Heart, Maine heads to Georgia Southern, hosts Towson and then travels to Colgate. There are also trips to Liberty and Elon. The Black Bears may lose a few games along the way, but this is a group that can make another deep playoff run.
Projected Postseason: FCS Playoffs
2018 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 134.4 (86th in nation, 6th in conference)
Passing Offense: 214.6 (61, 7)
Total Offense: 349.0 (85, 8)
Scoring Offense: 26.5 (70, 5)
Rushing Defense: 79.2 (1, 1)
Pass Defense: 233.9 (89, 12)
Total Defense: 313.1 (17, 4)
Scoring Defense: 23.4 (30, 5)
Turnover Margin: 0.36 (32, 4)
Sacks: 3.36 (4, 1)
Sacks Allowed: 2.00 (62, 4)
HERO Sports 2019 Recruit Rankings:
#2 Kolin Demens
#137 Gereme Spraggins