#25 Delaware FCS Football 2012 Preview

George Hammond

Delaware Blue Hens

Overall Rank: #25
#5 Colonial
Delaware FCS College Football 2012 Team Preview
Delaware Team Page


With its rich tradition, it’s difficult for Delaware to sneak up on anyone. But a smile might have emerged from coach KC Keeler when the CAA coaches’ preseason poll was released and the Hens were No. 5. Delaware missed the playoffs the last two seasons, but could have the parts to be in the CAA chase in 2012. The Hens return 14 starters – nine on defense, plus some key transfers (most noticeably from the University of Maryland). And when the Hens have been good in the past, it’s been a rock-solid defense that usually has taken the pressure off the offense.

2011 Record: (7-4, 5-3)
2011 Postseason: None
Coach: KC Keeler (81-46 at Delaware, 169-67-1 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Jim Hofher
Defensive Coordinator: Nick Rapone

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Andrew Pierce, RB, 1, 279 yards
Passing: Tim Donnelly, QB, 1,732 yards
Receiving: Nihja White, WR, 673 yards
Tackles: Paul Worrilow, LB, 97 tackles
Sacks: Paul Worrilow, LB, 1.0
Interceptions: Rick Tunstall, FS, 5

Other Key Returnees: OT Brandon Heath, CB Marcus Burley, SS Tim Breaker, LB Patrick Callaway, DE Ethan Clark, CB Travis Hawkins, DT Irv Titre, DT Laith Wallschleger, K Sean Baner, P Rauley Zaragoza

Key Losses: DE Michael Atunrase, LB Andrew Harrison, OT Shea Altland, OG Gino Gradkowski, C Rob McDowell, OG Will Nagle, TE Colin Naugle, WR Bobby Russo, WR Mark Schenauer.

Start with running back Andrew Pierce. In two seasons, the Walter Payton Award candidate has rushed for 2,934 yards and scored 30 TDs. He’s fourth on Delaware’s all-time career rushing list. He figures to get the ball a lot again in 2012. When Pierce doesn’t have the ball, wide receiver Nihja White might. The 6-foot-2, 205-pound senior had 50 receptions last year and has 131 for his career. The kicking game should be strong with first-team All-CAA placekicker Sean Baner. But as mentioned, the defense could be special. It was 37th in the nation in total defense last year and that could improve. LB Paul Worrilow (a Buck Buchanan Award nominee) leads the way along with defensive back Travis Hawkins.

The offensive line is a major concern. Delaware lost four starters from last year, and it could be a really young unit with no seniors on preseason depth chart. Even with Pierce, the Hens were only in the middle of the pack in rushing offense last year, and they were ninth in the CAA for total offense. Last year’s regular quarterback, Tim Donnelly, returns, but he might not be No. 1 this season. Bowling Green transfer Trent Hurley is onboard along with Trevor Sasek, who started the 2011 season opener at Navy before a knee injury sidelined him in the third quarter. Sasek, who was the first non-transfer to start at quarterback for Delaware since 2001, is coming off knee surgery and likely will be eased in as the season progresses.

The Bottom Line:
The defense will keep the Hens in the CAA chase. It should be that good. Delaware has a tendency to play to its level of competition and that’s hurt it i.e. Rhode Island last year, in recent seasons. Delaware should be 3-0 going into the conference opener at William & Mary followed by a road game at New Hampshire. They play at Old Dominion in Norfolk, VA and Richmond on the road, but they get Towson in Newark and JMU isn’t on the schedule. If they get decent quarterback play from Donnelly, Sasek and Hurley, the Hens should be in the playoffs.

Projected Postseason: None

2011 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 165.55 (47th in nation, 6th in conference)
Passing Offense: 179.36 (77, 9)
Total Offense: 344.91 (69, 9)
Scoring Offense: 25.82 (56, 6T)
Rushing Defense: 147.82 (53, 4)
Pass Defense: 196.91 (40, 8)
Total Defense: 344.73 (37, 3)
Scoring Defense: 20.00 (19, 2)
Turnover Margin: .64 (27, 5)
Sacks: 1.27 (104, 10)
Sacks Allowed: 1.82 (48, 6T)

Madness 2012 FCS Football Recruit Rankings:
#66 Jalen Randolph
#80 Will Lewis
#87 Connor Bozick
#159 Craig Brodsky