#5 Delaware FCS Football 2021 Preview

Delaware Fightin’ Blue Hens
Overall Rank: #5
#2 CAA
 Delaware Logo
Following a disappointing 5-7 mark in 2019, Delaware had a great spring. They ended up playing four CAA games, but won them all relatively easily, with the exception of a 27-20 victory over then #10 Villanova. The offense took a step back in the playoffs, but the Fightin’ Blue Hens managed to squeak past Sacred Heart 19-10 and Jacksonville State 20-14 to reach the semifinals, where they lost 33-3 at South Dakota State. With just about everybody back, this is a Delaware team that will be looking for another trip to the semifinals and beyond.
2020-21 Record: 7-1, 4-0
2020-21 Postseason: FCS Playoffs
Coach: Danny Rocco (26-17 at Delaware, 116-59 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Jared Ambrose
Defensive Coordinator: Manny Rojas
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Dejoun Lee, RB, 564 yards
Passing: Nolan Henderson, QB, 1,482
Receiving: Thyrick Pitts, WR, 451 yards
Tackles: Noah Plack, DB, 45
Sacks: Chase McGowan, DE, 5.0
Interceptions: Nijuel Hill, DB, 3
Other Key Returnees: RB Khory Spruill, WR Gene Coleman, TE Bryce De Maille, OL David Kroll, OL Mickey Henrey, LB Johnny Buchanan, DB Kedrick Whitehead, K Ryan Coe
Key Losses: None
Dejoun Lee is the workhorse in the backfield. In eight games in the spring, he carried the ball 120 times for 564 yards and six touchdowns. Khory Spruill has been a quality secondary rushing option for the last four seasons and he will surely do it again. The passing offense was just as good in 2020-2021. Nolan Henderson completed an impressive 70.7 percent of his passes for 1,482 yards and ten touchdowns. That was his first season as a full-time starter and he did not disappoint. With receivers Thyrick Pitts and Gene Coleman and tight end Bryce De Maille back, the passing game will be very dangerous. Pitts is the big play threat, catching 29 passes for 451 yards and three touchdowns, while Coleman led the team with 44 receptions.
The Delaware defense ranked in the top in the FCS in pass defense, total defense and scoring defense. They were also a big reason the team ranked third in turnover margin. Chase McGowan spends most of his time in the opposing backfield and tallied 5.0 sacks and 7.5 tackles-for-loss. Johnny Buchanan is the top linebacker and earned preseason All-CAA honors from the conference. The pass defense that was so superb in the spring has all the tools to repeat that success. Noah Plack led the team with 45 tackles in the spring and added a couple interceptions. Dedrick Whitehead added 31 tackles, but was an All-CAA honoree following the 2019 campaign and the spring numbers do not do him justice. Cornerback Nijuel Hill intercepted a team high three passes.
The Bottom Line:
Delaware starts off the season with a conference game at Maine. A couple weeks later they return to the road to play Rutgers. This is not a terrible Rutgers team, but do not be surprised if Delaware puts up a good fight. The conference game of the year, and perhaps the regular season game of the year in the FCS, comes on October 23rd when the Blue Hens host James Madison. That game will have CAA title and playoff seeding implications.
Projected Postseason:  FCS Playoffs
2020-21 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 149.2 (44th in nation, 5th in conference)
Passing Offense: 193.1 (54, 3)
Total Offense: 342.4 (46, 3)
Scoring Offense: 25.8 (39, 4)
Rushing Defense: 121.0 (26, 4)
Pass Defense: 118.4 (4, 1)
Total Defense: 239.4 (4, 2)
Scoring Defense: 14.4 (3, 1)
Turnover Margin: 1.38 (3, 1)
Sacks: 2.12 (49, 6)
Sacks Allowed: 2.75 (73, 9)