My rants and insight into Colgate athletics and Patriot League sports

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

2006 Patriot League Preview: #5 Georgetown

A couple of days late, but here is the next installment....

#5 Georgetown

Recent History

The venture into the Patriot League as an associate football member has not been a great success so far for the Georgetown Hoyas as they have yet to see a winning record since joining, either overall or within the league. While they did manage to finish fifth in the League last year by virtue of wins over Bucknell and Fordham, against the top four teams in the League Georgetown was outscored by an average of 35-9. In many ways, the gap that was there in 2001 still exists today.

To be fair, it should be noted though that in reality Georgetown is fighting an uphill battle to be competitive. While they did join the Patriot League several years ago, their football budget apparently didn't get that memo and hasn't left the MAAC conference from which it came. In simplistic terms, it appears Georgetown is spending 10-15% of what the rest of the league is spending on their football programs. More than any other league member, the Hoyas have to rely on their brand name status and attractive location to lure players to their school and hope for some diamonds in the rough to compliment the players that they do spend their money on.

Off-Season Developments

Despite the funding inequities, apparently the sub-par on the field performance was too much for new Athletic Director Bernard Muir as long time coach Bob Benson was let go (technically resigned, but come on now), even after signing a five year contract extension in 2004. With Muir apparently willing to buy out 4 years of a contract that probably cost close to if not more than the amount spent on the entire program, maybe the wind is starting to change directions in D.C.

Another sign of possible change on the horizon was the hiring of Kevin Kelly as the new head coach. Kelly comes from Navy, as well as having spent significant time at Marshall. He's also had stints at Dartmouth, Tulane, Bowdoin and Syracuse among other stops. This will be his first time at the reigns of a program and it looks like his specialty is on the defensive side of the ball.

Kelly kept one member of the prior staff in place, with former Hoya and long time coach Rob Sgarlata taking the role of Assistant Head Coach. However the remaining staff is all new, hailing from institutions like Harvard, Dartmouth, Columbia and Syracuse. While the change might be welcome and positive, these players have seen plenty of new faces in and out of their program over the past few years. That is generally never good.

The Multi-Sport Facility (MSF) has got a field on it now, with the remaining work holding out on the funds needed to complete it. This is a great step in the right direction for the Hoyas.

Available information on Georgetown's recruits is fairly thin. Two fairly solid names that I've heard of are: James Cherundolo, a 6'4" 265 lbs. offensive lineman from outside Syracuse. There was I-A interest in him at some point, but I have no idea how it ultimately played out. Dave Chillura, a defensive back from Delbarton in N.J. also rises to the top. He appears to have chosen the Hoyas over the Ivy League (good choice Dave!). Finally, Joey Tavarez is a linebacker out of Mater Dei in California. Based on what I can scrounge online, he might be one to remember for the future.

2006 Schedule

New coach Kelly has no time to waste this season as he welcomes league foe Holy Cross to the MSF for the first time to kickoff the season. After being embarrassed by the Crusaders last year, I will venture that the Hoyas will be plenty pumped to make a statement against a potentially rebuilding Sader squad. They follow up this contest by welcoming newly declared I-AA independent and scholarship squad Stony Brook to town. I'm sure plenty of eyes will be watching to see if the scholarships have an immediate impact against a team that Stony Brook lost to last year.

The Hoyas then hit the road for the final three Saturdays in September, heading north to Brown and Columbia before picking up another league contest against Colgate and the start of a key group of Patriot League games. After that trip to Hamilton, Lehigh comes to town followed by Bucknell. Colgate and Lehigh back to back will not be easy.

Georgetown gets a bit of a 'breather' with an away game at Charleston Southern of the Big South and then by welcoming Marist for Senior Day in D.C. They then close out the season and the rest of the league games on the road against Lafayette and Fordham.

This schedule is very doable for Georgetown. Six wins and, dare I even say it, seven wins are definitely in play. Based on last year alone, Stony Brook, Columbia, Bucknell, Charleston Southern, Marist and Fordham are all potential 'W's' for the Hoyas, at least in the preseason.

Season Outlook

There was plenty of potential last fall that just didn't pan out, and this year has some of that same feeling: A somewhat favorable schedule, thirteen starters returning, and their best league finish ever last year. Throw in a new coach and it could be just what the Hoyas need to break above .500 both in the league and for the season. If I was a Georgetown fan, I'd be pretty excited for this fall as things could go pretty right this time around. To break through that .500 barrier, Georgetown will have to maintain the respectable defense that Benson developed and (this is a bit deja vu), find an offense.

On the defensive side, the name you will hear most often will be senior Alex Buzbee. Buzbee was the other defensive line anchor to Mr. Everthing Ononibaku, who was lost to graduation. Buzbee will need the help of classmates Roosevelt Donat, Julius Griauzde and Shaun Johnson to hold down on the line and probably Nicholas Umar as well. This line will be fairly formidable in league play. In addtion to senior Chris Paulus, there will likely be some new young faces at the linebacker position who will be asked to get up to speed quite quickly if there is to be any success on the Hilltop. The two players with the inside track for the task at hand will likely be Mike Greene, a junior, and Robert Helt, a sophomore. The youth at the linebacker position will be assisted by a more veteran secondary led by Derek Franks. Franks will be starting in the defensive backfield for the third straight season.

For the offense, the good news is there is actually some solid experience coming back on the line, with 6'7" co-captain Liam Grubb leading the way. Grubb has 2 starting years under his belt and will be joined by others with experience like Robert Browning, Andrew Rehwinkel and Dan Osterhout. The real question will be: who can produce behind this line?

There is some experience coming back in running back Emir Davis and quarterback Nick Cangelosi. Davis rushed for a little over 200 yards last season and scored a touchdown. Cangelosi rushed for a little over 300 yards in his quarterback position and threw for over 1,000 yards and seven touchdowns. Given last year's production, the jury is definitely out on whether this pair can provide the offensive spark needed for the Hoyas to overcome that hump. If the Hoyas do decide to air it out more this year, Cangelosi will enjoy 4 of his top 5 receivers from last year returning; but honestly, having run the option who knows what talent might be there? If I were to place any bets, it looks like junior Kyle Van Fleet might be the deep option for the Hoyas that opposing teams will have to keep in mind. Sophomore Brent Tomlinson might also make some noise at the reciever position.

Predicted Finish

Fifth. This prediction is partially a nod to Georgetown's potential, and partially an honest assessment of the bottom of the Patriot League. Georgetown, often the cellar dweller, did finish fifth last year. And they return a heck of a defensive line with a fairly good defense that looks worse that it was because of an anemic offense. The offensive line is stable so in my humble opinion this season really rests on the ability of the offensive skill players. Hoya fans will have to hope that new offensive coordinator Jim Miceli will be the right guy for the job. Miceli has an interesting background in starting and turning programs around; maybe Georgetown will be the latest he can add to his list of accomplishments.

As I gaze into my crystal football, here's how I see 2006 playing out: Big win to start the season over Holy Cross, who finds out that life after Silva is pretty tough. The Hoyas go 2-0 with a win over Stony Brook before falling to Brown. Columbia could be tougher than anticipated, but it's still Columbia. I'll be optimistic and say they can go 3-1 here before coming back down to reality against Colgate and Lehigh. Evened up at 3-3, I think Georgetown wins at least 2 out of their next three against Bucknell, Chuck South and Marist before dropping the final two games against Lafayette and Fordham.

When it is all said and done the Hoyas sit at 5-6 and in fifth place, but like I said earlier, it's not so far fetched to imagine that they could also achieve even more. I would almost go so far as to say Georgetown is the Patriot League sleeper team this year, but that honor goes to a team yet to be analyzed...

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Welcome to the Family

Looks like the men's soccer team has landed a recruit with a bit of a Colgate pedigree: Alex Weekes. Weekes is a 5'11" 160 pound Strousburg, PA native who chose Colgate over Lehigh. Welcome aboard Alex! You won't regret your decision.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Softball's New Slinger

Amanda Eccleston appears to be one serious pitching recruit for Coach Sax. The Sacramento area senior appears in this newspaper piece about her three time Player of the Year award.

The highlights: she's a pitcher with a 20-1 record, 147 strikeouts in 146 1/3 innings pitched and she's got a 0.77 ERA. She's also a potent hitter, leading her team with a .389 batting average, 35 hits, 28 RBI's and a .455 on-base percentage.

She seems to be a tad nervous about the cross-country move to college. Don't worry Amanda, I'm sure you'll love Colgate! Good luck in college!

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

2006 Patriot League Preview: #6 Holy Cross

Next on the list for your reading pleasure:

#6 Holy Cross

Recent History

In a similar theme as Bucknell's preview, what a difference a year makes for the College of the Holy Cross. Last year's 6-5 record marked head coach Tom Gilmore's first winning season (his second overall), Holy Cross's first winning season since 2000's 7-4 effort and just their second winning record since the end of the glory years in 1992. Plain and simple, that is good news for the Crusaders. Throw in a win against at the time nationally ranked conference mate Lehigh and it's great news! The boys from Worcester might be heading in a new direction with this program.

Given the lack of consistent winning over the past 15 years, there will be a lot riding on this season. Another winning record and it might be safe to say that Holy Cross has turned a corner under Gilmore. Back to a losing record and maybe not a lot has changed. Only time will tell.

Off-Season Developments

For the third season in a row, the Holy Cross players will have some new coaches to get used to, starting close to the top. Both coordinators are gone for the Crusaders as former offensive coordinator Bob Griffin retired and former defensive coordinator David Kotulski has gone on to coach for his third Patriot League school, this time as the defensive coordinator at Lehigh.

Gilmore must be happy with the crew that he had last year though, because both positions have been filled with internal promotions. Chris Pincince takes over the reigns as offensive coordinator from his wide receivers coach position and Richard Rodgers gets the promotion to defensive coordinator from secondary coach. Finally, three new coaches round out the ranks taking over the duties for tight ends, running backs and defensive ends. The consistency within the program helps at the coordinator positions, but Holy Cross fans might want to take note of all of the turnover that seems to be happening each year. Lack of stability here could be a problem down the road.

Gilmore added 31 new players to the 2006 roster, apparently focusing on gaining some defensive depth, particularly at linebacker and in the secondary. In addition to the usual Catholic school flavor to the recruits, Holy Cross appears to have made some solid gains in Ohio Valley/Mid-West area by evidence of 11 players coming from Ohio, Michigan and Illinois. Some highlights: Mike Argillander, an all-state quarterback from Michigan who looks to be 6'3" and 225 lbs. and threw for 4,800 yards and 55 touchdowns in his career; Anthony Campbell, an All-Ohio linebacker; Aaron Jones, a beefy 6'4" 305 lbs. lineman with honors out of Ohio; and Randy Wright, a do-everything linebacker who did a post-graduate year at Hotchkiss.

If some of those boys from Ohio and Michigan pan out, this could be a very respectable class for Holy Cross - full of some 'grunt-type' talent.

2006 Schedule

Holy Cross's schedule this year is a fairly balanced one that has a nice New England flavor to its out of conference section certainly good news for traveling fans and for home attendance. The Crusaders kick off Patriot League play right away down in D.C. against the Hoyas of Georgetown. This game could have large implications down the stretch in determining which of the 'second-tier' teams in the Patriot rise to the top. A win here is fairly important to the Saders.

Next weekend sees Fitton Field spring to life with some neighbors down in Boston, Northeastern of the A-10, making the guest appearance. This could be a winnable Patriot/A-10 contest for Holy Cross. Then, keeping the out of conference matchups in state, a trip to Cambridge and the Crimson of Harvard is in order. This is perhaps a more difficult Patriot/Ivy contest for the Crusaders. The bus will then be packed for one more road trip down to Marist for a night game and hopefully the continued Patriot League dominance over this MAAC program.

A short homestand ensues the follow weekend against league foe Fordham and then defending Ivy League champ Brown. One more Ivy team is left on the schedule with next week's trip to Dartmouth.

At this point the remaining bulk of the Patriot League schedule comes into play, as Holy Cross tries to knock off Lafayette in Easton having lost four straight to the Leopards. Then, the Crusaders will welcome a Lehigh club looking to get back on top after last season's upset loss in Bethlehem. This game is followed by senior day at Fitton when the Bucknell Bison roll into town.

Much to dismay of the Holy Cross faithful, the season ends most likely on a cold, blustery mid-November day in central New York where the boys in purple will try to break a five game losing streak to Colgate.

Season Outlook

By now I'm sure some Holy Cross fans are looking for an explanation of why I'm picking the Crusaders to finish in the same position as last year, sixth, when such important strides were made last season. Well, it comes down to two important factors that cannot be overlooked when trying to assess preseason potential:

1 - there was a huge vacuum created with the graduation of last year's seniors on offense
2 - the returning defense that Holy Cross does enjoy ranked dead last in more than one category, particularly in total defense

On offense, the vacuum that exists is two-fold. First, in sheer numbers eight of eleven starters graduate. There will be plenty of new faces trying to score points for the Crusaders. Secondly, and maybe more importantly, in raw talent alone Holy Cross will have to try to find a way to put up points without the benefit of Patriot League Offensive Player of the Year Steve Silva. Silva, who averaged 91 yards per game rushing, scored 15 touchdowns, caught a little over five passes a game and averaged over 213 all purpose yards per game was the legs that Holy Cross won games on. You just don't recover from that easily.

In addition to the loss of Silva, three year starting quarterback John O'Neil, who threw for over 2,000 yards and 17 touchdowns last season, and his three top targets, wide receivers Bob Turkovich, Sean Gruber and tight end Luke Dugan, are all gone as well. In fact, Holy Cross only returns to the roster three rushing touchdowns at the hands of rising sophomores Terrance Gass and Mike Kielt and one receiving touchdown by a receiver, credited to Thomas Harrison. Those three players, along with Frank Herlihy at fullback and probably Brian McSharry at quarterback, are the talent that Crusader fans have to rest their hopes on.

While the offensive line does fair a bit better being able to be built around a pair of returning guards in Andrew Schoepfer and Eric Gendron and a returning left tackle Hall McMillan, there are some serious questions in Worcester about offensive production next season. Without some unknown talent there waiting to step up, it could be a long season for first year coordinator Pincince. Maybe he has better answers, but I just don't know who is going to score some points for the Saders.

On the other side of the ball, the opposite is true: eight starters return for Holy Cross, with the three losses occurring at each level of play. New coordinator Rodgers will be looking for a new defensive end, linebacker and cornerback to take the field on Saturdays this fall. Generally, this is good news for a program as last year when I wrote this preview the key questions for the Crusaders were on defense. Unfortunately though, the answers to those questions weren't so great. As a team, Holy Cross was horrible defending the rush, giving up over 200 yards on the ground per game. They were middle of the pack on passing defense, giving up almost 200 yards per game. Put them both together, and the Crusaders gave up just about a hundred more yards per game as league co-champs Colgate and Lafayette did. Without the offensive production of Silva and O'Neil last year, Holy Cross could have easily joined Fordham and Bucknell at the bottom of the league standings.

So for this campaign, if there is to be any success for the team it will be up to linebackers Dan Adams and Chris Nielsen, along with defensive end John Markus Pinard and cornerback Casey Gough to completely change the tone for the defense. This core of players has multiple years of experience and will have played together for many games. It is up to them to establish a defense that I'm sure Gilmore, a defensive guy at heart, is dying to get for himself. As mentioned earlier though, the constant change in defensive leadership doesn't help the situation.

The news is split on special teams, as the previously mentioned Silva was one of the biggest return threats in I-AA. His loss will be noticed. Maybe Casey Gough can pick up where Silva left off. The odds are not in favor though as not many people can. The good news is: all the kickers are back.

Predicted Finish

Sixth. Last year's fourth place finish was quite a surprise, but then again, the bottom of the Patriot League was nothing to write home about last season. In particular, last year's late season loss to Fordham was telling, as Silva and two other important starters were out of the game with injuries. Take away O'Neil at quarterback, and that game might not be a four point contest. Unfortunately for Holy Cross, the 2006 season basically repeats the Fordham game scenario. I don't know if the offensive replacements will be able to duplicate the efforts of those graduating seniors.

The opening Georgetown game will be important (for both squads, but more on Georgetown in a future week), as a win puts off for four weeks the next Patriot League contest against against a Fordham squad that struggled last year. If Holy cross has a win to open the season, followed by back to back losses to Northeastern and Harvard, and then a hopeful 'gimmie' against Marist - they stand at 2-2 and 1-0 in the league facing Fordham.

If they can pull that out they have two more games before they run the gauntlet of Lafayette, Lehigh and Colgate - with Bucknell thrown in the middle for fun. If they can get to Lafayette at 2-0 in the league, then my prediction of sixth will be wrong. Wrong or right, for Holy Cross to have any shot at these last four games there will be a need for at least several games of experience for this new offense.

Holy Cross fans lucked out a bit with the senior class that graduated last year, as without them they would have probably still been 'rebuilding' in a losing season under Gilmore. Next year's juniors are his first class and it still remains to be seen if the talent he has recruited is up to the task of continuing to restore the glory that once was. It is this writer's opinion that another winning season would be a huge step in that direction, because in the preseason, the tea leaves don't look so hot that they can repeat the success of 2005.

Friday, June 09, 2006

2006 Patriot League Preview: #7 Bucknell

First on the chopping block for 2006 is:

#7 Bucknell

Recent History

What a difference a year makes. The beginning of 2005 felt like the Bison might be on the verge of challenging for the Patriot League title and maybe even making their first trip to the NCAAs. However instead of looking for ways to scratch their way to the very top in 2006, Bucknell now finds itself trying to turn around what ended up being a horrific 1-10 campaign.

Decimated by injuries and limited by their depth at quarterback in an spread option offense that relies heavily on that position, last season was one that couldn't end quick enough.

The 2006 season is head coach Tim Landis' fourth and because of the poor season his overall record at the helm of the Bison has sunk to 14-20. Before 2005 there were plenty of games that showed glimmers of potential for Bucknell teams with some close losses to quality programs. But to illustrate just how far down the Bison fell last year, they averaged only 14 points per game and gave up 32. I believe you could only categorize four games as being close last season, and from my personal experience in one of them against Colgate, the outcome wasn't really in doubt for long.

So while in last year's preseason Bucknell appeared to be just one step away from being able to make a championship run, this year they have to be seen as the doormat. How long they will stay there is up for debate. Landis is a good coach who may just have run into some bad luck but we may be witnessing the beginning of a long slide in Lewisburg.

Off Season Developments

The biggest change for Bucknell is the departure of Tim Camp as offensive coordinator. Ashley Ingram comes from Rhode Island, another option school, to hopefully bring some pointmaking ability back to Lewisburg. He does have experience winning some games though, having spent his playing days winning three national championships at the Division II level at North Alabama. That background helps immensely in this writer's opinion. Rounding out the staff changes is Pat Kingman coaching the defensive line (Jim Reid's tenure at Bucknell was a short one) and Steve Vashel tutoring the safeties.

The Class of 2010 brings in 33 eager young bucks to don the Orange and Blue, and if for some crazy reason the coaching staff was actually reading this blog, they appear to have reacted to my comment last year about the number of local players on their incoming roster. This year sees a significant drop in the number of Pennsylvania recruits coming in and appears much more national in nature. Players from Ohio, Michigan, Florida, Louisiana, Alabama and North Carolina join kids from expected states like New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts. It will be interesting to see how some of these players pan out in the future to see if old 13 was on to something or not with my hunch!

Some standouts for me include: Andrew Bottone, a highly decorated offensive lineman out of New Jersey; Rashod Bumpers, a running back who put up some pretty impressive numbers down in Alabama; Brigham Farrand, a solid defensive back also from New Jersey; and quarterback transfer from Navy Andrew Lair of Louisiana, whose father and brother played for LSU.

2006 Schedule

Bucknell continues to have a fairly respectable schedule that mimics last year's in many ways but does give the Bison one advantage that may come in handy: they start off with three game homestand. By game three, I do believe we'll have a good idea of what to expect in Lewisburg.

The homestand starts with perennial Patriot League non-conference opponent Duquesne. The Dukes are no mid-major pushover and probably even deserve to be the favorite in this one. Then comes along two time defending Patriot League champs Lafayette to town. The Pards have plenty of talent but will be doing some adjusting of their own, so if there was ever a time for Bucknell to play them, it could be now. They end the homestand with the Big Red of Cornell, who should be able to contend for the Ivy title this year. Folks, this stretch will not be easy, but it helps that it is in Lewisburg.

It doesn't get any easier when Bucknell hits the road either, as they take a trip down south to visit the Spiders of Richmond. Ouch. They then head on over to a surprising away game at Marist - the sole win of their season last year. Maybe then the Bison will be able to take a breather. They will need it to once they get home as they will welcome an always tough Penn squad to town for Homecoming.

At this point it is time to get the rest of the league schedule done and Bucknell starts against the team where it probably all started to go wrong last year: Georgetown. Depending on how the Bison have fared, an unwelcome trip to Lehigh follows. The Bison haven't beat Lehigh since 1997, and for the past four years the games haven't been close.

Fordham comes to Lewisburg for Parents' Weekend before it's off to Holy Cross and then back to Christy Mathewson-Memorial Stadium to host the Raiders of Colgate. Depending on how the season has gone up until now, these games could be very important to the outcome of the league, or they could be footnotes to another long season.

Season Outlook

Well, the one good thing about a season like 2005 is a lot of players get a lot of playing time. First and foremost, for any Bison success to occur on the gridiron this fall, they must find themselves a quarterback. Running the spread option like they do, without a quarterback to lead the offense it will be dead in the water. The job is still in many ways up for grabs. Bucknell's QB troubles began when Terrance "That's Right,Not Daris" Wilson went down in the opener. Consequently, we never got a chance to see just what this Wilson was capable of. So while he's still in the mix, you can also add newcomer Andrew Lair to the recipe. Lair is a transfer from Navy (remember - they run this offense too) and supposedly has impressed during spring camp. Rounding out the QB competition is Ryan Ahern and Ben Bouffard, but one has to imagine this is a two horse race between Wilson and Lair. If either are any good, Bucknell just might be in business again.

The main threat after whatever quarterback emerges will be returning fullback Josh DeStefano. DeStefano was third on the team in rushing last year with 297 yards. Apparently a former linebacker named Kevin Mullen is challenging DeStefano for playing time at the fullback position, but I have to believe this position is DeStefano's to lose. The slotback positions will be held by a pair of support players last year, Kadero Watson and Peter Kaufman. Watson was a freshman last year and ended up gaining 299 yards for the season. He could be the biggest unknown of this group so watch for him.

For a team that runs the option like Bucknell does, wide receivers are often just glorified down field blockers, and the Bison are no exception. Case in point: Bucknell does return its leading receiver in Daniel Zvara, however he led the team with 15 catches and 292 yards for the entire season! That's 2-3 games for some of the Patriot League's best! Needless to say, the Bison will not be winning any games in the air next year.

On a bright note though, a good portion of the offensive line does return for the Bison, along with backups who have seen time. The trio of Chad Glasser, Stefan Niemczyk and Jonathan Grainger will have to take the lead in turning the offensive production around. Joel Hoffer, who also started a few games last year, is back as well. Michael Anthony looks to be the final piece to the puzzle. This line does have potential so all is not lost here.

On the other side of the ball, the orange and blue faithful can also say goodbye to one of the league's better defensive lines. Four very influential seniors are lost to graduation and they will not be easy to replace. Junior Ryan Walsh looks to be the only player with significant playing time last year. After that, it's a laundry list of who might emerge where: Brandon Friday (who saw some time last year), Stephen Edwards, Kurt Schneider, Craig Kostelic and Michael Hardman could all end up seeing time on the field this fall. If some of those players can keep the defensive line play at the level of the past two years, again, Bucknell could be in business.

The linebacking corps does boast a pretty good player in Dorian Petersen to lead this defense in 2006. Petersen is an athletic talent that could take a step up to the next level in the Patriot League and become a force. He's fast, with good hands and good instincts, evidenced by virtue of ranking second on the team in tackles, grabbing three interceptions and having a very good day
against eventual league champ Colgate. It will be up to his support staff of Matt Palermo and probably Julius Hopson to help him raise his game.

In somewhat good news, both corners due return for another season, but one can't overlook that 32 points per game that the Bison gave up. As an example, this secondary gave up 240 yards in the air to Marist - and 358 to Lafayette! They return a safety was well in Stephen Collage, but I'm not too high on this group of returnees in general. I think teams might be able to put up points in large chunks against this secondary, especially with an inexperienced defensive line being asked to provide the rush.

Special teams seems to be pretty solid on the kicking side of things, but Bucknell will surely have its hands full trying to find someone to replace Mr. Everything Dante Ross at the return position. While Ross went on to eventually be the signal caller for the Bison, he first made his name in the league as a huge return threat. It will be up to two players who've seen time, Zvara and Nolan Applegate, to provide the spark that will surely be needed in this dimension of the game.

Predicted Finish

Seventh. While you might say there is no where to go but up for Bucknell, their hopes for any upward movement fully reside in finding a quarterback and establishing another good defensive line. I'm sure the off season work and spring ball have been intense for this group of players; many of whom will remember their freshman or sophomore years when they were a team with much more swagger than they had in 2006. The question is, is that enough? Did Bucknell really just get into a nosedive with injuries and bad luck or are there bigger issues at play?

As mentioned earlier, I don't think the schedule helps much. While the Bison open at home, Duquesne is always hungry to knock off a Patriot League opponent, and they've done it several times in the past. There will be a lot of pressure on whomever is taking those snaps to get Bucknell that first win. Without it, I don't believe there is much of a chance for them to knock of Lafayette next week and Cornell the week after. It really has to get to the middle of the schedule before one starts to think Bucknell has a good chance to win games, but they are also interspersed with potential blowouts from teams like Lehigh. I said it last year, but it will really take a good start to get this team headed in the right direction. They didn't get it last year, and it was all downhill from there. If Duquesne was on schedule last season instead of Marist, it could have been an Ed Sweeney-esque 0-11 year.

Ultimately, I think Bucknell will get on track next year - eventually. However I think it will be too little, too late. At best, I think fans in Lewisburg better prepare themselves for a true 'rebuilding' season. A season to get a quarterback some quality time; a season to find some defensive stars and a season to restore the confidence that may have been lost in 2005. Some wins here and there are not far fetched. At worst though, fans can prepare to have a lot of room to stretch out on those stadium stands.

Now, of course I could be wrong about the fate of the Bison as my #7 last year, Georgetown, didn't finish last when it was all said and done. But, they did finish tied for 6th. 2006 won't be easy, Bucknell. It won't be easy.

#6 coming sometime next week!

Monday, June 05, 2006

New Blog Link

I've just linked up with a writer from way down south - Louisiana. Nick Deriso has a blog that covers Grambling State. Here's the direct link (that is now also listed on the right hand side of this blog):

I encourage all of my readers to stroll on over to other areas of the I-AA country. The SWAC is a conference that Colgate has never faced, but if you learn a little about them they have a great brand of football taking place down there in an atmosphere that is second to none in I-AA.

Yours truly is still hard at work on his Patriot League preview. I still intend on having #7 out by the end of this week.

Friday, June 02, 2006

2006 Patriot League Preview Coming Soon!

I have just started work on my preview, so look for my #7 Pick sometime next week.