#41 Albany FCS Football 2012 Preview

Albany Great Danes

Overall Rank: #41
#2 Northeast
Albany FCS College Football 2012 Team Preview
Albany Team Page


Albany made great strides for themselves and the Northeast Conference in 2011. The Great Danes made their first ever trip to the FCS Playoffs and made a game of it against Stony Brook before eventually falling 31-28. The NEC does not get much attention in the FCS, but Albany taking the Seawolves down to the wire turned a few heads. But Albany did not cruise through the NEC by any means, despite the 7-1 record, and the conference will be up for grabs again this year with the Great Danes right in the mix as usual.

2011 Record: (8-4, 7-1)
2011 Postseason: FCS Playoffs
Coach: Bob Ford (246-157 at Albany, 255-178-1 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Ryan McCarthy
Defensive Coordinator: Mike Simpson

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Andrew Smith, RB, 1,092 yards
Passing: Andrew Smith, RB, 103 yards
Receiving: Ryan Kirchner, WR, 615 yards
Tackles: Jon Morgan, LB, 106
Sacks: Kyle Jordan, LB, 3.0
Interceptions: Leon Sadler, CB, 2

Other Key Returnees: DT Ocieka Bakou, WR Cole King, P Paul Layton, LB Dave Plungas, OT Kadeem Williams

Key Losses: S Jake Ciccarello, DE Eddie Delaney, QB Dan Di Lella, DT Zach Gallo, CB Duane Harper, S Justin Hassan

With a new quarterback under center, Coach Bob Ford may have to abandon his balanced offense that kept the opposition on their toes a year ago. Relying more on Andrew Smith and Dillon Romain is not a bad option though. Smith rushed for 1,092 yards and ten touchdowns in 2011 and Romain added 371 yards and five scores. Smith is also a superb pass catcher out of the backfield and having him as an outlet for the new quarterback will be invaluable. But the quarterback will also have big tight end Paul Booker and a couple great receivers to work with as well. Ryan Kirchner caught 56 passes for 615 yards and ten touchdowns, while fellow wideout Cole King scored six touchdowns on 31 receptions. Those numbers may dip, but the opposition will have to respect the receivers. Albany usually talks about their defense first, but the offense grabbed the headlines last year. The defense has some holes to fill, but the linebackers will lead the way. Jon Morgan is a tackling machine and he will get plenty of help from Dave Plungas. Kyle Jordan is also back after starting 11 games last season and he will spend some time in the backfield.

And Albany may need all the pass rushing help they can get from Jordan. The front four lost end Eddie Delaney and tackle Zach Gallo. Those two alone combined for 12.0 sacks and 17.5 tackles-for-loss. Ocieka Bakou is a fine tackle, but the defensive line lacks depth and experience. For a team that usually relies on their defense and will likely take a step back in their offensive production, the lack of playmakers in the front four could be a huge problem. The news in the secondary is not much better. Safeties Justin Hassan and Jake Ciccarello are gone along with corner Duane Harper. The secondary does have some more experienced players ready to step up, most notably corner Leon Sadler, but this group will be tested. The offensive issues stem from the loss of record breaking quarterback Dan Di Lella. His 2,548 passing yards last year was a school record and that may stand for quite some time. The offensive line does have a fine tackle in Kadeem Williams, but the unit as a whole will likely be down compared to last season. That is not a good thing while breaking in a new signal caller.

The Bottom Line:
Albany may need some time to find their identity this year. In the past it has been the defense. Last year it was the balanced offensive attack led by Di Lella. This year it will likely be the rushing attack and the linebackers that make the most noise, but that may not be enough to win the NEC again. The weakness on both lines is a big problem, but those can be overcome if the Great Danes can get a good year out of probable starting quarterback Will Fiacchi.

Projected Postseason: None

2011 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 181.67 (32nd in nation, 4th in conference)
Passing Offense: 233.67 (38, 2)
Total Offense: 415.33 (23, 1)
Scoring Offense: 33.67 (17, 1)
Rushing Defense: 152.50 (60, 4)
Pass Defense: 201.08 (47, 5)
Total Defense: 353.58 (54, 6)
Scoring Defense: 23.17 (34, 2)
Turnover Margin: .58 (31, 2)
Sacks: 2.25 (41, 2)
Sacks Allowed: .75 (10, 2)