#14 Fordham FCS Football 2014 Preview

Fordham Rams

Overall Rank: #14
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Fordham quickly made national headlines in 2013. After beating Rhode Island, they knocked off then #8 Villanova and went to Temple and came away with a 30-29 win over the FBS team. It was not until November 16th that the Rams suffered a defeat, a 27-14 upset at Lafayette. Fordham hosted a first round playoff game and took care of business against Sacred Heart. In the second round Fordham’s season finally came to an end against eventual national runner-up Towson.

2013 Record: 12-2, 6-1
2013 Postseason: FCS Playoffs
Coach: Joe Moorhead (18-7 at Fordham, 18-7 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Andrew Breiner
Defensive Coordinator: Jon Wholley

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Mike Nebrich, QB, 513 yards
Passing: Mike Nebrich, QB, 4,380 yards
Receiving: Sam Ajala, WR, 1,646 yards
Tackles: Stephen Hodge, LB, 124
Sacks: DeAndre Slate, DL, 7.0
Interceptions: Jordan Chapman, DB, 5; Levon Williams, DB, 5

Other Key Returnees: QB Peter Maetzold, WR Brian Wetzel, WR Jorge Solano, TE Dan Light, OL Mason Halter, DB Ian Williams, LB Austin Hancock, DB Jake Dixon, DL Brett Biestek, K Michael Marando

Key Losses: RB Carlton Koonce, OL Tom Fisher, LB Jake Rodriques, DL Eli Tenuta

Coach Joe Moorhead returns eight starters to an offense that ranked seventh in the FCS with 515.3 yards per game. Quarterback Michael Nebrich threw for an amazing 4,380 yards and 35 touchdowns. He completed 73.5 percent of his passes and was intercepted just seven times in 480 pass attempts. And he added 513 yards and nine more touchdowns on the ground. Now a senior, Nebrich may even put up better numbers this year. Having three receivers back who totaled over 1,000 yards each will help. Sam Ajala is the big play receiver on a team that is full of big plays. He caught 93 passes for 1,646 yards and 14 touchdowns. Brian Wetzel added 89 catches for 1,094 yards and 14 more scores. Tebucky Jones only reached the end zone five times, but he caught 85 passes for 1,154 yards. As if that was not enough, Fordham also has one of the best tight ends in the FCS in Dan Light. When Nebrich has nothing down field, he will look for Light, who caught 66 passes in 2013. The offense does have to replace Carlton Koonce, who wrapped up his collegiate career as Fordham’s third all-time leading rusher. Kendall Pearcey showed promise in limited action as a freshman and should be able to pick up some yards when Fordham wants to mix things up and go to the ground.

The Rams defense will make plenty of big plays, but they give up a lot too. Against Towson in the playoffs, they gave up four touchdowns of over 20 yards. But with eight starters returning, Fordham should be able to reduce those big plays while still making plenty of their own. Stephen Hodge is no stranger to big plays. He led the team with 124 tackles and forced five fumbles. In the secondary, the big plays come from Ian Williams, Jordan Chapman and Levon Williams. Those three accounted for 14 of the team’s 21 interceptions in 2013.

The Bottom Line:
The defense should be better in 2014 and the offense will be just as potent. Another game against Villanova early in the year will not be easy and this group also has to travel to Lehigh and Army. That may result in more than one regular season loss this time around, yet that will not stop the Rams from returning to the playoffs. Once there, this group has the depth and experience to be a serious contender to beat a traditional power or two.

Projected Postseason: FCS Playoffs

2013 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 154.4 (70th in nation, 4th in conference)
Passing Offense: 360.9 (3, 1)
Total Offense: 515.3 (7, 1)
Scoring Offense: 37.6 (15, 1)
Rushing Defense: 202.4 (97, 7)
Pass Defense: 194.2 (29, 1)
Total Defense: 396.6 (71, 3)
Scoring Defense: 25.4 (52, 2)
Turnover Margin: 0.9 (9, 1)
Sacks: 1.79 (79, 4)
Sacks Allowed: 2.36 (80, 3)


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