#43 Davidson FCS Football 2022 Preview

Davidson Wildcats
Overall Rank: #43
#1 Pioneer
 Davidson Logo
For the second season in a row, Davidson reached the FCS Playoffs. Coach Scott Abell’s team had a breakthrough season in the spring of 2021 and followed it up with another great campaign in the fall. Once again the Wildcats were overmatched when it came to the playoffs, losing this time 48-21 to Kennesaw State, but the program continues to improve and this time around Davidson will look to get another opportunity to take down a top team in the playoffs.
2021 Record: 8-3, 7-1
2021 Postseason: FCS Playoffs
Coach: Scott Abell (26-15 at Davidson, 65-39 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Vince Munch
Defensive Coordinator: Jon Berlin
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Dylan Sparks, RB, 903 yards
Passing: Elijah Burrell, QB, 133 yards
Receiving: Jalen Staples, WR, 269 yards
Tackles: Jonathan Hammond, DL, 64
Sacks: Jonathan Hammond, DL, 9.5
Interceptions: Brian Jacobs, S, 2; Chris Panko, LB, 2; Yusef Thomas, LB, 2
Other Key Returnees: RB Coy Williams, WR Aris Hilliard, WR Jayden Waddell, OL Beck Kipperman, CB Kaedon Jenkins, CB Jordan Burrell
Key Losses: QB Louis Colosimo, WR Eli Tuner, TE Jackson Sherrard, OL Cole Foley, OL Khalil Miller, LB Jake Alexander, LB Miles Davis, S Dreylan Hines, LB Jalen Jefferson
Once again Davidson boasted the FCS’ best rushing offense, tallying an amazing 336.5 yards per game on the ground. That was over 55 yards better than the second best in the country, North Dakota State. Dylan Sparks and Coy Williams were the workhorses for the team in 2021, combining for 1,689 yards and 24 touchdowns. Slot Aris Hilliard is also back after rushing for 605 yards and eight more scores. Davidson will need to replace quarterback Louis Colosimo though and it is important for the ground game that they have a quarterback who can stretch the defense. Colosimo did a good job of that during his one season as the team’s starter. Junior Elijah Burrell is next in line after serving as a backup in 2021. The return of top receivers Jalen Staples and Jayden Waddell should help ease the quarterback transition.
The defense took a step forward in the fall, ranking first in the Pioneer League allowing just 336.4 yards per game. Much of that improvement came due to an effective secondary. Cornerbacks Kaedon Jenkins and Jordan Burrell are a solid duo, but losing the leadership of safety Dreylan Hines could be a major concern in the secondary. There are some big holes to fill at linebacker as well, but Chris Panko and Yusel Thomas should be ready to play larger roles in 2022. The star of the defense though is lineman Jonathan Hammond. He led the team with 64 tackles, 13.0 tackles-for-loss and 9.5 sacks. When Hammond is getting consistent pressure in the backfield, it can help cover for the spots of inexperience the Wildcats have in the rest of the defense.
The Bottom Line:
With two straight trips to the playoffs, Davidson has become the team to beat in the Pioneer League, overtaking former standout San Diego. A trip to San Diego on November 12th should, yet again, have huge title implications.
Projected Postseason:  FCS Playoffs
2021 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 336.5 (1st in nation, 1st in conference)
Passing Offense: 107.2 (121, 10)
Total Offense: 443.6 (13, 2)
Scoring Offense: 36.4 (9, 2)
Rushing Defense: 142.7 (47, 3)
Pass Defense: 193.6 (23, 2)
Total Defense: 336.4 (28, 1)
Scoring Defense: 29.3 (76, 4)
Turnover Margin: -0.18 (78, 6)
Sacks: 1.82 (73, 8)
Sacks Allowed: 0.64 (2, 1)