#33 Houston Baptist FCS Football 2020 Preview

Houston Baptist Huskies
Overall Rank: #33
#5 Southland
 Houston Baptist Logo
Houston Baptist nearly started last season with a bang. The Huskies went to UTEP and nearly beat an FBS team, eventually falling 36-34. Houston Baptist kept going with that momentum and won their next four games against Texas Wesleyan, South Dakota, Northwestern State and Texas Southern. That is impressive for a team that had won just two games in the previous two seasons. It all fell apart after that with the Huskies losing six of their next seven contests, but the program still seemed to turn a corner in 2019 and they will look to be even more competitive in 2020 and beyond.
2019 Record: 5-7, 2-6
2019 Postseason: None
Coach: Vic Shealy (18-56 at Houston Baptist, 45-79-1 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Zach Kittley
Defensive Coordinator: Jeff Mills
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Dreshawn Minnieweather, RB, 723 yards
Passing: Bailey Zappe, QB, 3,811 yards
Receiving: Ben Ratzlaff, WR, 1,139 yards
Tackles: Brennan Young, LB, 124
Sacks: Caleb Johnson, LB, 6.0
Interceptions: 3 Tied with 2
Other Key Returnees: RB Ean Beek, WR Jerreth Sterns, S Tra Fluellen, S Colton Manning, S Patrick Wolfe, CB Delon Smith, P Blake Patterson
Key Losses: WR Gamar Girdy Brito, WR Trevor Larkin, DL Andre Walker, CB Alfred King
HBU boasted the third most prolific passing attack in the FCS last season and they could be even better in 2020. Bailey Zappe is back for his senior season after throwing for 3,811 yards and 35 touchdowns a season ago. Zappe does need to cut down on his 15 interceptions, but he has a nice arm and a ton of experience. Zappe also has two great wide receivers returning. Jerreth Sterns was his favorite target in 2019. Sterns caught 105 passes for 833 yards and nine touchdowns. Ben Ratzlaff is the big play option. He tallied 87 receptions for 1,139 yards and a dozen scores. The Huskies obviously are going to look to throw the ball a lot, but that almost always leaves some big holes for the ground game. And with Dreshawn Minnieweather and Ean Beek, Coach Vic Shealy has a couple backs who can take advantage of that space. Minnieweather led the team with 723 yards and seven scores despite missing four games. Beek added 660 yards and is also a very good pass catcher out of the backfield.
The poor play of the defense often forced the offense to keep chucking the ball around the field. The team won all four games in which the defense kept the opposition below 36 points. The good news is that the top four tacklers are back. Brennan Young and Caleb Johnson ranked first and second in the Southland in tackles per game. Young tallied 124 on the year along with two interceptions and four pass breakups, while Johnson tallied 104 tackles with 6.0 sacks and a couple fumble recoveries. Safety Tra Fluellen had a great freshman campaign, tallying 101 tackles, a couple interceptions and three fumble recoveries. Colton Manning, Patrick Wolfe and Delon Smith will add some experience to one of the worst pass defenses in the country a season ago. It really does not bode well that HBU had to make so many tackles last season, but this is a more experienced group who should be able to make a few more key stops this time around. And sometimes one big stop is all it takes to win a shootout.
The Bottom Line:
Once again Houston Baptist should get off to a decent start. The bigger games start in late October when Nicholls comes to town on the 24th followed by a Halloween trip to Southeastern Louisiana. The season concludes on November 21st at home against Sam Houston State. If the Huskies can win a game or two against the more tradition Southland powers, they will not be too far off from playing for a spot in the playoffs.
Projected Postseason: None
2019 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 128.3 (89th in nation, 8th in conference)
Passing Offense: 334.3 (3, 2)
Total Offense: 462.6 (12, 2)
Scoring Offense: 35.8 (14, 2)
Rushing Defense: 179.4 (85, 10)
Pass Defense: 316.6 (123, 11)
Total Defense: 496.0 (121, 11)
Scoring Defense: 36.8 (113, 10)
Turnover Margin: 0.00 (58, 6)
Sacks: 2.92 (13, 4)
Sacks Allowed: 2.42 (76, 4)
Madness 2020 Recruit Rankings:
#37 Kendal Septs
#103 R.J. Smith
#205 Tyson Thompson