#15 Austin Peay FCS Football 2020 Preview

Austin Peay Governors
Overall Rank: #15
#1 Ohio Valley
 Austin Peay Logo
The surprise resignation of Coach Mark Hudspeth after just one season was a bit of a blow to Austin Peay. However, this is still a program coming off their first conference title in 43 years and their first ever trip to the playoffs. The Governors rolled over Furman and Sacramento State to reach the quarterfinals as well. They lost to Montana State at that point and now new interim coach Marquase Lovings will look to keep that momentum going.
2019 Record: 11-4, 7-1
2019 Postseason: FCS Playoffs
Coach: Marquase Lovings (0-0 at Austin Peay, 0-0 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Tim Zetts
Defensive Coordinator: Mark Powell
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Ahmaad Tanner, RB, 408 yards
Passing: Jeremiah Oatsvall, QB, 237 yards
Receiving: DeAngelo Wilson, WR, 1,564 yards
Tackles: Jack McDonald, LB, 118
Sacks: Josephus Smith, DT, 7.5
Interceptions: Kordell Jackson, DB, 7
Other Key Returnees: WR Baniko Harley, OL Blake Mitchell, S Isaiah Norman, DT John Whiteside, S Johnathon Edwards
Key Losses: RB Kentel Williams, QB JaVaughn Craig, RB Prince Momodu, OL Kyle Anderton, LB Pat Walker, DB Juantarius Bryant, DL Shaun Whittinghill, DB Trent Taylor, DB Erskine Francis
Austin Peay’s offense will revolve around a couple great wide receivers. DeAngelo Wilson crushed school records last year by catching 89 passes for 1,564 yards and 15 touchdowns. Baniko Harley added 53 receptions for 839 yards and seven scores. Now all the Governors need to do is find somebody who can get them the ball. JaVaughn Craig is gone after throwing for 3,208 yards and 28 touchdowns, but Austin Peay does have a couple proven options. Jeremiah Oatsvall was the number one quarterback after very good seasons in 2017 and 2018. An injury ended his 2019 campaign early and that is when Craig got his chance. Oatsvall figures to pick up right where he left off, but APSU has brought in Vito Priore, who has starting experience at Rhode Island, to at least provide a little competition. APSU did have a very good ground game last season in part due to Craig rushing for 714 yards. Top running back Kentel Williams is also gone, leaving senior Ahmaad Tanner as the likely top back this season.
It was the stellar defense that led to much of Austin Peay’s success in 2019. The team ranked first in the conference in every major statistical category. There are enough key players coming back to keep up that pace. Jack McDonald is the heart and soul of the defense after recording 118 tackles last season. Kordell Jackson is the big time playmaker. He recorded seven interceptions and should earn plenty of All-OVC accolades again this time around. Add in safeties Isaiah Norman and Johnathon Edwards and this is an experienced group who will make a ton of big plays. The secondary making those big plays is much easier when the front line gets consistent pressure on the quarterback. Tackles Josephus Smith and John Whiteside are a great place to start.
The Bottom Line:
Austin Peay was no fluke last year. They lost their starting quarterback in the second game of the season and still managed to win a share of the conference title and make a great playoff run. On paper, this season they could be even better and that should worry the rest of the OVC.
Projected Postseason: FCS Playoffs
2019 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 179.6 (34th in nation, 2nd in conference)
Passing Offense: 239.6 (42, 4)
Total Offense: 419.2 (30, 2)
Scoring Offense: 34.5 (19, 1)
Rushing Defense: 104.1 (8, 1)
Pass Defense: 203.5 (37, 1)
Total Defense: 307.5 (12, 1)
Scoring Defense: 20.6 (15, 1)
Turnover Margin: 0.33 (34, 2)
Sacks: 2.07 (66, 4)
Sacks Allowed: 1.00 (8, 1)
Madness 2020 Recruit Rankings:
#234 Nick Carozza