#43 Saint Francis FCS Football 2020 Preview

Saint Francis Red Flash
Overall Rank: #43
#2 NEC
 Saint Francis Logo
Saint Francis’ 3-4 conference record does not tell the entire story at all. Last year three of those four losses in Northeast Conference play came in overtime. Two of those overtime losses came against Robert Morris and Central Connecticut State, who combined for a 13-1 conference record in 2019. With plenty of experience returning, Saint Francis should again push the best teams in the NEC for a spot in the playoffs.
2019 Record: 6-6, 3-4
2019 Postseason: None
Coach: Chris Villarrial (46-65 at Saint Francis, 46-65 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Marco Pecora
Defensive Coordinator: Bishop Neal
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Joel Denley, RB, 299 yards
Passing: Jason Brown, QB, 3,094 yards
Receiving: EJ Jenkins, WR, 779 yards
Tackles: Brian Lee Jr, LB, 70
Sacks: Brian Lee Jr, LB, 5.0
Interceptions: Gio Vonne Sanders, DB, 4
Other Key Returnees: RB Chris Wells, RB Syaire Madden, WR Brandan Lisenby, DB Dorian Jackson, LB Jaylen Parks, DL James Watkins, DB Martin Forgy Jr, DB Christian Massie
Key Losses: WR RaShaun Henry, OL Christian Eubanks, LB Da’Jon Lee, DB Nick Rinella
Thanks to Jason Brown, Saint Francis was the best passing team in the NEC last season. The junior quarterback threw for 3,084 yards and 28 touchdowns with just five interceptions last season. There are not many more efficient quarterbacks than Brown. The bad news for the passing game is that RaShaun Henry is gone. The wide receiver easily led the Red Flash with 90 receptions for 1,119 yards. However, EJ Jenkins and Brandan Lisenby have proven that they can be big time receivers too. Jenkins averaged nearly 20 yards per reception on 39 catches and ended up in the end zone 13 times. Lisenby should see his reception total boost significantly while Jenkins stretches out the defense. The ground game was not particularly effective last season, but they should be better in 2020 with top rushers Joel Denley, Chris Wells and Syaire Madden all returning.
With the departure of Da’Jon Lee, Brian Lee will be the new main man on the defense. The junior linebacker tallied 70 tackles and 5.0 sacks and should compete for all-conference accolades as an upperclassman. Fellow linebacker Jaylen Parks and lineman James Watkins should help keep Saint Francis among the best teams in the FCS in sacks. The pass defense was the weaker unit last season, but that could change in 2020. Gio Vonne Sanders led the team with four interceptions. Unfortunately, the team as a whole only had eight all season, so players like Dorian Jackson, Martin Forgy and Christian Massie will be looking to help improve the turnover margin by making some big plays in the passing game.
The Bottom Line:
The first big conference test could come on October 3rd when the Red Flash head to Moon Township, Pennsylvania to take on Robert Morris. That will be a tough road game, but the good news is St. Francis gets Central Connecticut State at home. If all goes as planned, that October 17th match-up could decide the NEC champion.
Projected Postseason: None
2019 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 100.3 (113th in nation, 5th in conference)
Passing Offense: 260.9 (27, 1)
Total Offense: 361.2 (81, 3)
Scoring Offense: 25.2 (73, 2)
Rushing Defense: 115.8 (13, 2)
Pass Defense: 202.6 (34, 5)
Total Defense: 318.4 (13, 3)
Scoring Defense: 21.8 (21, 2)
Turnover Margin: -0.33 (82, 5)
Sacks: 2.83 (17, 1)
Sacks Allowed: 1.50 (24, 2)