#22 Holy Cross FCS Football 2022 Preview

Holy Cross Crusaders
Overall Rank: #22
#1 Patriot
 Holy Cross Logo
Holy Cross started the 2021 season with a win at Connecticut. The magical Crusaders season kept rolling along with a perfect 6-0 record in the Patriot League and their third straight trip to the playoffs. But this time was different. Holy Cross earned a host spot in the first round and won their first ever playoff game, a 13-10 victory over Sacred Heart. They also gave fifth-seeded Villanova a run for their money in the second round, eventually falling 21-16.
2021 Record: 10-3, 6-0
2021 Postseason: FCS Playoffs
Coach: Bob Chesney (25-16 at Holy Cross, 92-41 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Chris Smith
Defensive Coordinator: Scott James
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Matthew Sluka, QB, 868 yards
Passing: Matthew Sluka, QB, 1,512 yards
Receiving: Jalen Coker, WR, 691 yards
Tackles: Jacob Dobbs, LB, 137
Sacks: Jacob Dobbs, LB, 9.5
Interceptions: John Smith, CB, 5
Other Key Returnees: RB Peter Oliver, RB Tyler Purdy, WR Ayir Asante, WR Justin Shorter, OL Luke Newman, OL Nick Olsofka, OL Pat McMurtrie, LB Liam Anderson, LB Liam Doran, S Walter Reynolds, S Terrell Prince, CB Devin Haskins, DL Jake Reichwein, DL Dan Kuznetsov, S Cristos Argys
Key Losses: QB Marco Siderman, WR Tenio Ayeni, OL John Brekke, DL Benton Whitley, DB Grant Holloman
Matthew Sluka finally got a full season under his belt and he proved that he can be a dynamic playmaker game in and game out. On the year the quarterback threw for 1,512 yards and 11 touchdowns and ran for 868 yards and 14 trips to the end zone. Coach Bob Chesney often brought in Marco Siderman under center to be a more consistent passing threat, but with Siderman moving on, this is fully Sluka’s team now. Jalen Coker, Ayir Asante and Justin Shorter will provide Sluka with plenty of passing threats. However, this team will spend a lot of time on the ground too. Of lost in the hype around Sluka’s ability to run the ball is that Holy Cross has two potent running backs in Peter Oliver and Tyler Purdy.
Holy Cross can chew up a lot of clock with their ground game, but their defense still did a lot of amazing work. They ranked first in the FCS allowing just 254.5 yards per game. And with nearly everybody returning, the defense should only be better. Linebacker Jacob Dobbs is everywhere. He tallied 137 tackles with 9.5 sacks and six quarterback hurries. Liam Anderson, Dan Kuznetsov and Jake Reichwein are superb pass rushers as well and the Crusaders should again be one of the top teams in the country when it comes to getting sacks. All of that pressure leads to opportunities for the secondary to make big plays of their own and John Smith leads an experienced group who will pick off plenty of passes.
The Bottom Line:
Holy Cross will get a couple early tests on the road against Merrimack and Buffalo. A trip to Harvard a few weeks later will be another good test for this group to see where they stand against solid FCS programs. The assumption is that Holy Cross will cruise through the Patriot League so those non-conference games could be their toughest tests until the playoffs.
Projected Postseason:  FCS Playoffs
2021 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 205.2 (18th in nation, 1st in conference)
Passing Offense: 201.8 (68, 3)
Total Offense: 407.0 (30, 2)
Scoring Offense: 32.2 (25, 2)
Rushing Defense: 88.4 (7, 1)
Pass Defense: 166.1 (7, 1)
Total Defense: 254.5 (1, 1)
Scoring Defense: 18.5 (14, 1)
Turnover Margin: 0.85 (8, 1)
Sacks: 3.38 (5, 1)
Sacks Allowed: 2.31 (80, 4)