#44 Drake FCS Football 2012 Preview

Drake Bulldogs

2012 Overall Rank: #44
#2 Pioneer
Drake FCS College Football 2012 Team Preview
Drake Team Page


Drake has one of the best quarterbacks that nobody is talking about. Once he is done, Mike Piatkowski will be the Bulldogs all-time leading passer. He already holds the record for completions and completion percentage and will be eyeing the touchdown passing record as well. Piatkowski is a very efficient passer and the only bad things to say about him are about his lack of mobility and his knack for throwing a few too many interceptions. But those are small concerns.

2011 Record: (9-2, 7-1)
2011 Postseason: None
Coach: Chris Creighton (30-14 at Drake, 125-38 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Chris Creighton
Defensive Coordinator: Brad McCaslin

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Trey Morse, RB, 292 yards
Passing: Mike Piatkowski, QB, 2,934 yards
Receiving: Nick Rosa, WR, 402 yards
Tackles: Tyler Moorehead, LB, 78
Sacks: Brandon Coleman, DE, 12.0
Interceptions: Seth Hedman, LB, 2; Jake Underwood, LB, 2

Other Key Returnees: OT Avery Fuhs, DE Anthony Gianaras, TE Kevin Marshall, LB Travis Merritt, WR Joey Orlando, OT Matt Purdom, S Michael Ratelle

Key Losses: WR Brew Blackmon, RB Patrick Cashmore, S Nick Chenier, G Dan Clinton, CB Lyndon Crawford, G Stephen Flynn, LB Jeff Grovak, CB Michael Lahart, OT Evan Lawrence, WR Nathan Paddock, DT John Sawhill, C Chris Wilson, DT David Witkiewicz

Even though Drake had a fine passing attack in 2011 it was their defense that got them a share of the Pioneer League title. They ranked second in the nation in rush defense, tenth in total defense and seventh in scoring defense. With the return of the team’s top three tacklers, there are high hopes that the Bulldogs defense can again be among the best in the nation. Linebackers Tyler Moorehead and Travis Merritt are a formidable duo in the middle of the defense. Moorehead tallied an amazing 21.0 tackles-for-loss, including 10.5 sacks. He also picked off two passes and forced three fumbles. With him in the middle, the defense will be just fine. And with Brandon Coleman back on the line, the Bulldogs will spend a whole lot of time in the opposing backfield. Coleman led the team with 12.0 sacks in 2011. The secondary was the weak point of the defense and there are holes that need to be filled, although safety Michael Ratelle is a nice piece to build around.

Piatkowski does lose his top two receivers from a year ago in Drew Blackmon and Nathan Paddock. Those two combined for 100 catches for 1,431 yards and 12 touchdown receptions. While that sounds bad, and is certainly not good, Drake has plenty of options ready to step up. Joey Orlando caught six touchdown passes as a junior and should be ready to turn into the senior leader of the unit. Nick Rosa is the team’s returning leader at the position after tallying 402 yards on 34 receptions. Throw big tight end Kevin Marshall into the mix and Piatkowski should have plenty of weapons.

A bigger problem will be the run game and keeping Piatkowski off of his back. The offensive line lost four starters from a unit that allowed three sacks per game and paved the way for less than 100 rushing yards per contest. However, the return of left tackle Matt Purdom is huge and Avery Fuhs and Zach Bosch at least have some starting experience. So as bad as it is, the turnover on the line should not be quite as bad as it sounds. Finding a running game to help compliment the passing attack would be helpful too. Patrick Cashmore was easily the most efficient rusher last year, tallying 4.3 yards per carry and reaching the end zone seven times. Trey Morse proved to be a decent short yardage back and he can be the workhorse for the Bulldogs. However, he is not much of a breakaway threat.

The Bottom Line:
A year from now Drake will be thinking about a trip to the FCS Playoffs. When the tournament expands to 24 teams for the 2013 season, the Pioneer League will finally get an automatic bid. But for now the Bulldogs are playing for a Pioneer title, an honor they shared in 2011. But it will not be that simple this season. San Diego, the co-champs last season, have another strong squad, Jacksonville should be much improved after a disappointing 2011 campaign and Dayton is always a contender.

Projected Postseason: None

2011 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 98.91 (99th in nation, 7th in conference)
Passing Offense: 272.45 (17, 4)
Total Offense: 371.36 (51, 6)
Scoring Offense: 28.73 (37, 5)
Rushing Defense: 77.18 (2, 1)
Pass Defense: 218.55 (79, 3)
Total Defense: 295.73 (10, 2)
Scoring Defense: 17.82 (7, 1)
Turnover Margin: .36 (38, 4)
Sacks: 3.55 (5, 3)
Sacks Allowed: 3.00 (93, 7)