Stony Brook never got the message that if a team has two running backs, then it really has none.
That notion couldn't be more wrong than with the Seawolves.
Running backs Miguel Maysonet and Brock Jackolski rotated series and still went over the 1,000-yard marks in each of the last two seasons, with Maysonet setting the Big South single-season record a year ago when the Seawolves won their first outright conference title and advanced to the FCS playoff second round.
Jackolski has completed his eligibility, but Maysonet, a Walter Payton Award nominee, has a new tag-team partner this year who might be even better. Iowa transfer Marcus Coker, who finished second in the Big Ten in rushing last season before being dismissed from the team, has joined Stony Brook's surging program and will keep the backfield a two-headed monster.
"It makes it harder to try to game-plan," Liberty cornerback Kevin Fogg said of Stony Brook's unique system.
The results were particularly staggering for Stony Brook last season as it finished with a 9-4 record. The 5-foot-10, 205-pound Maysonet rushed for 1,633 yards and 15 touchdowns as a junior, ranking eighth in the FCS in rushing yards per game (125.6). Jackolski churned out 1,418 yards and 16 touchdowns on the ground, ranking 17th with 109.1 yards per game.
Coker, who's 6 feet, 230 pounds, and will run through defenders as much as around them, rushed for 1,384 yards and 15 touchdowns and was No. 15 on the FBS level with 115.3 rushing yards per game. He is considered a better NFL prospect than Maysonet and could enter the NFL Draft as a junior-eligible prospect next spring.
The draft's a long way off, however. The Maysonet-Coker running duo, the best in the FCS, is focused on carrying Stony Brook to another Big South title and then to a deep run in the playoffs.
"It's been something that's been unique to us. It's what we do," said Jeff Behrman, Stony Brook offensive coordinator. "We're a two-back tailback system and those guys rotate every two plays whether they ran the ball or not, they know they're in and they're out. It's just a rhythm that they get into. Certainly if one guys is hotter or the other we tend to veer their way a little bit more. But, at the same time, there's plenty of touches in our style of offense to get both guys the ball."
Following is a team-by-team breakdown of the 2012 Big South Conference race.
The Sports Network's predicted order of finish:
1. Stony Brook
4. Coastal Carolina
6. Charleston Southern
1. STONY BROOK SEAWOLVES (9-4 overall, 6-0 Big South)
COACH: Chuck Priore (37-31 in six seasons at Stony Brook; 76-40 overall)
STARTERS RETURNING: 15 (9 offense/6 defense)
OFFENSIVE STAR: RB/KR Miguel Maysonet, Sr. (252 carries, 1,633 yards, 15 TD)
DEFENSIVE STAR: SLB Jawara Dudley, Jr. (71 TT, 8 TFL, 4 sacks, 2 PBU, 2 FF)
OTHER KEY PLAYERS: QB Kyle Essington, Sr. (111-of-203, 1,919 yards, 20 TD, 4 INT)
RB Marcus Coker, Jr. (Iowa transfer)
FB Chris Fenelon, Sr.
LT Scott Hernandez, Jr.
LG Fernando Diaz, Jr.
C Mike Lisi, So.
RG Cody Precht, So.
RT Michael Barniro, Jr.
WR/PR Jordan Gush, Sr. (41 receptions, 541 yards, 4 TD; 6.8-yard punt return average)
WR Kevin Norrell, Sr. (41 receptions, 673 yards, 5 TD)
WR Myles Campbell, Jr. (injured last season)
WR Adrian Coxson, So. (Maryland transfer)
TE Brett Arce, Sr.
DE Junior Solice, Jr. (25 TT, 10.5 TFL, 2 QBH)
NT Masengo Kabongo, Sr.
DT Jonathan Coats, Sr. (27 TT, 5 TFL, 2 sacks, 2 PBU, 1 FR, 1 BK)
DE Victor Ochi, R-Fr.
DE Andres Trujillo, Jr. (40 TT, 2 sacks, 1 FF)
DE Leston Simpson, Jr. (Minnesota transfer)
MLB Reggie Francklin, Jr. (52 TT, 6.5 TFL, 1 FF)
MLB Grant Nakwaasah, Jr. (64 TT, 8 TFL, 2.5 sacks, 1 INT, 1 FR, 1 FF, 1 BK)
Rover Dan Mulrooney, Sr. (75 TT, 7 TFL, 1 INT, 2 PBU, 3 FR, 2 FF)
Rover Christian Ricard, So.
CB Cedrick Moore, Sr.
CB Avery Graham, Jr.
CB Davonte Anderson, Sr. (21 TT, 2 INT, 2 PBU, 1 FR)
FS Domick Reyes, Sr. (68 TT, 4.5 TFL, 1 INT, 5 PBU, 2 FT, 2 FF)
WS Greg Melendez, Sr. (Idaho State transfer)
PK/P Wesley Skifflington, Sr. (11-of-15 FG, 60-of-62 PAT)
BIGGEST LOSS: RB/KR Brock Jackolski (215 carries, 1,418 yards, 16 TD; 29.4- yard KO return average, 1 TD)
OUTLOOK: Before joining CAA Football next year, the fast-rising Seawolves expect to hoist another Big South championship. The Seawolves cruised through the conference last year, blistering opponents for 48.8 points per game. In doing so, they overcame an 0-3 start with a nine-game win streak, including their first FCS playoff win. As usual, Priore has fortified this year's team with transfers. Incredibly, his offense has the potential to be even better than last season. QB Essington replaced injured starter Michael Coulter during the season and became a reliable leader. Maysonet, a Walter Payton Award candidate who rushed for 1,633 yards, has shared carries with Jackolski for two years and now will do it with Coker, a transfer who rushed for 1,384 yards and 15 touchdowns at Iowa last season. The wide receivers unit is stocked, led by Gush and Norrell. Plus the offensive line returns four starters. Yes, it will be points, points and more points. Conversely, the defense suffered more important losses than the offense and some players will shuffle into new positions. The Seawolves are replacing three starters on defensive line and are looking for senior DT Coats to settle the unit and mount some pressure on opposing backfields. The linebackers, led by Dudley, and the secondary, featuring a four-year starter in Reyes, are deeper units. The Seawolves have to travel to Big South power Liberty, but expect to win there for the first time. After giving national runner-up Sam Houston State a scare in last year's playoffs, the Seawolves have their sights on a deep playoff run.
Sept. 1 - vs. Cent Connecticut State
Sept. 8 - vs. Pace
Sept. 15 - at Syracuse
Sept. 22 - vs. Colgate
Sept. 29 - at Army
Oct. 6 - vs. Charleston Southern
Oct. 13 - at Coastal Carolina
Oct. 20 - vs. Gardner-Webb
Oct. 27 - at Presbyterian
Nov. 3 - vs. VMI
Nov. 10 - at Liberty
2. LIBERTY FLAMES (7-4 overall, 5-1 Big South)
COACH: Turner Gill (first season at Liberty; 25-49 overall)
STARTERS RETURNING: 13 (6 offense/7 defense)
OFFENSIVE STAR: LG Malcolm Boyd, Sr.
DEFENSIVE STAR: CB/KR Kevin Fogg, Sr. (45 TT, 2 TFL, 3 INT, 4 PBU, 1 FR, 2 FF, 1 BK; 33.5-yard KO return average, 3 TD)
OTHER KEY PLAYERS: QB Brian Hudson, Jr. (14-of-21, 145 yards, 2 TD)
QB Josh Woodrum, R-Fr.
TB Sir Chauncey Holloway, Sr. (108 carries, 524 yards, 10 TD; 13 receptions, 77 yards, 1 TD)
TB Aldreakis Allen, Jr. (120 carries, 612 yards, 8 TD)
TB Desmond Rice, So.
FB Matthew Baptiste, So.
WR Pat Kelly, Sr. (39 receptions, 635 yards, 4 TD)
WR Ryan Ferguson, Sr.
TE Justin Gunn, Sr.
TE Peter Gagliardi, Jr.
LT Hunter Stewart, Jr.
C Jay Weatherington, Sr.
RG Stan Herring, Sr.
RT Mitch Hanson, So.
OL Aaron Lundy, Sr.
DE Cory Freeman, Jr. (29 TT, 3 TFL, 3 PBU, 5 QBH, 1 FF)
DT Greg Schuster, Sr. (28 TT, 2 TFL)
DT Francis Bah, Jr. (33 TT, 11.5 TFL, 4 sacks, 8 QBH, 1 FR)
NG Bryant Lewellyn, Sr.
DE Demetrius Ward, Sr. (28 TT, 2 TFL)
WLB Scott Hyland, Jr. (46 TT, 5 TFL, 2.5 sacks, 1 INT, 2 PBU)
MLB Nick Sigmon, So. (60 TT, 7.5 TFL, 1 INT, 4 QBH)
SLB Bobby Partilla, So. (16 TT, 1 BK)
CB Walt Aikens, Jr. (49 TT, 2 sacks, 3 INT, 1 PBU, 3 FF)
CB Ryan Ayers, So. (19 TT, 4 PBU,
SS Chris Mayo, Jr. (64 TT, 4 TFL, 2 PBU, 1 FR, 2 FF)
SS Brent Winson, Sr. (46 TT, 6 TFL, 2.5 sacks, 1 INT, 2 PBU, 3 QBH)
FS Jacob Hagen, So. (30 TT, 4 PBU)
PK Aaron Sassaman, So.
P Grant Bowden, Jr.
LS Richard Wright, Jr.
BIGGEST LOSS: QB Mike Brown (223-of-351, 2,956 yards, 23 TD, 11 INT; 160 carries, 854 yards, 9 TD)
OUTLOOK: After Danny Rocco's successful run at Liberty earned him the Richmond head coaching job this offseason, Gill, the former Buffalo and Kansas head coach, was hired to help take the Flames program to an even higher level, specifically the FBS in the future. The transition under Gill has been smooth, but the Flames might take a step back on the field this season after they lost a dominant senior class, including QB Brown, WR Chris Summers and NG Asa Chapman. The quarterback job will be turned over to either Hudson or Woodrum. The new signal-caller will rely heavily on the run game because Holloway and Allen return in the backfield and All-America Boyd anchors the offensive line. Gill is taking the Flames back to being a 4-3 defense even though the line is fairly inexperienced. The linebackers unit and secondary feature influential juniors and sophomores, so the speedy Flames are building to something big next season (when Stony Brook is off to the CAA). Included are DT Bah, LB Sigmon and CB Aikens. CB Fogg, a senior, is a playmaker, as evidenced by his FCS-leading kickoff return average a year ago. The Flames face a difficult September schedule as they open the Gill era.
Sept. 1 - at Wake Forest
Sept. 8 - vs. Norfolk State
Sept. 15 - at Montana
Sept. 22 - vs. Lehigh
Oct. 6 - vs. Gardner-Webb
Oct. 13 - at Presbyterian
Oct. 20 - vs. Concord
Oct. 27 - at Coastal Carolina
Nov. 3 - vs. Charleston Southern
Nov. 10 - vs. Stony Brook
Nov. 17 - at VMI
3. GARDNER-WEBB RUNNIN' BULLDOGS (4-7 overall, 2-4 Big South)
COACH: Ron Dickerson (4-7 in one season at Gardner-Webb)
STARTERS RETURNING: 20 (11 offense/9 defense)
OFFENSIVE STAR: RB Kenny Little, Sr. (200 carries, 1,042 yards, 7 TD; 12 receptions, 121 yards)
DEFENSIVE STAR: DE Preston Pemasa, Jr. (46 TT, 13.5 TFL, 4 sacks, 2 PBU, 7 QBH, 1 FF)
OTHER KEY PLAYERS: QB Jordan Paul, So. (2-of-11, 11 yards, 1 INT)
QB Chandler Browning, Jr. (67-of-134, 871 yards, 3 TD, 6 INT)
QB Exavier Johnson, Sr. (10-of-23, 80 yards, 1 TD)
WR Marquis Sanders, GS (injured most of last season)
WR Richard Jules, Jr.
WR Carlton Heard, R-Fr.
WR/RB/RS Ricky Rhodes, Sr. (118 carries, 553 yards, 3 TD; 12 receptions, 73 yards; 19.2-yard KO return average; 11-yard punt return average)
FB Earnest Harmon, So.
TE Hudson Smith, Jr.
TE Seth Cranfill, So.
LT Harrison Martin, Sr.
LG Jamie Dunaway, Sr.
C Austin Sargeant, Sr.
RG Jeff Harris, Jr.
RG Aaron Huck, Sr.
RT Steve Demilio, Sr.
DE Maurice Dickson, Jr. (29 TT, 10.5 TFL, 4.5 sacks, 4 QBH, 1 FF)
DE Shaquille Riddick, So.
DT Matt Goods, Jr. (34 TT, 7 TFL, 2 sacks, 5 QBH, 1 FF)
DT Dylan Taylor, Sr. (21 TT, 5 TFL, 2.5 sacks, 2 PBU)
DT Tyler Hough-Jenkins, So. (16 TT, 5 TFL, 2.5 sacks)
LB Brian Wittenberger, Jr.
LB Tanner Burch, So. (17 TT, 1.5 TFL)
LB Bradley Taylor, So. (19 TT)
CB Keon Williams, Jr. (35 TT, 1 INT, 2 PBU, 1 FR)
CB Ivan Toomer, So. (30 TT, 2 INT, 3 PBU)
CB Kamar Morrison, Sr.
SS Gianni Olivas, Jr. (48 TT, 2.5 TFL, 3 INT, 3 PBU, 1 FR, 2 FF)
FS Bobby Clark, So.
PK Trevor Austin, So. (12-of-15 FG, 21-of-22 PAT)
P Bo Lindsey, Sr.
BIGGEST LOSSES: WR James Perry III (42 receptions, 590 yards, 1 TD) and LB Marty Patterson (102 TT, 10 TFL, 3 QBH, 1 FR, 1 FF, 1 BK)
OUTLOOK: The dark horse in the Big South race is Gardner-Webb, which returns all but two starters - both on defense. Dickerson feels much more settled in as a second-year head coach. His two lines could be difference makers, with Demilio, Dunaway and Martin anchoring the O-line and Goods, Pemasa and Dickson creating havoc for opponents from the D-line. Browning is the returning starter among the quarterbacks - with seven starts last year - but the position has been open in preseason camp. The 6-3 Browning had a strong spring game. When the position is settled, the QB can get the ball to RB Little, who is coming off a 1,000-yard season, and the versatile Rhodes, a running back and return specialist who will take his talents to wide receiver. The defense lost two starting linebackers, including all-conference standout Patterson. Otherwise, the Runnin' Bulldogs should keep getting after quarterbacks. Picked fifth in the Big South preseason poll, this team should do better than that in conference play. The non-conference schedule, though, is quite taxing.
Sept. 1 - vs. Wofford
Sept. 8 - at Richmond
Sept. 15 - vs. Samford
Sept. 22 - at Pittsburgh
Oct. 6 - at Liberty
Oct. 13 - vs. MidAmerica Nazarene
Oct. 20 - at Stony Brook
Oct. 27 - vs. VMI
Nov. 3 - vs. Coastal Carolina
Nov. 10 - at Char Southern
Nov. 17 - vs. Presbyterian
4. COASTAL CAROLINA CHANTICLEERS (7-4 overall, 3-3 Big South)
COACH: Joe Moglia (first season at Coastal Carolina)
STARTERS RETURNING: 15 (8 offense/7 defense)
OFFENSIVE STAR: LG Jamey Cheatwood, Jr.
DEFENSIVE STAR: SLB Andrae Jacobs, Sr. (46 TT, 10 TFL, 2 sacks)
OTHER KEY PLAYERS: QB Aramis Hillary, Sr. (148-of-226, 1,749 yards, 14 TD, 5 INT; 81 carries, 268 yards, 7 TD)
RB Jeremy Height, Sr. (57 carries, 197 yards; 15 receptions, 105 yards)
RB Travis Small, Jr. (92 carries, 432 yards, 4 TD)
RB Marcus Whitener, Sr. (60 carries, 318 yards)
Slot/RS Niccolo Mastromatteo, Jr. (8.8-yard punt return average; 19-yard KO return average)
WR DeMario Bennett, Jr. (14 receptions, 164 yards, 2 TD)
WR Matt Hazel, Jr. (32 receptions, 488 yards, 6 TD)
TE David Duran, Sr. (34 receptions, 472 yards, 2 TDs in 2010; injured last season)
LT Chad Hamilton, So.
C Pat Williams, Sr.
RG Mo Ashley, So.
RT Drew Herring, Jr.
DE Chris Thomas, Sr. (30 TT, 8.5 TFL, 3.5 sacks, 4 QBH, 1 FR)
DE Jamel Davis, Sr. (20 TT, 3 TFL, 1 FF)
NT Jeffrey Salley, Jr.
DT Johnny Hartsfield, Jr. (22 TT, 3.5 TFL)
Anchor Quinton Davis, Sr. (39 TT, 5.5 TFL, 2 sacks, 1 FR)
MLB Mike McClure, Jr. (36 TT, 2 TFL, 1 FR, 1 FF)
MLB Quinn Backus, So. (31 TT, 1.5 TFL, 1 FR)
CB Denzel Rice, So.
CB Dontavais Johnson, Sr.
CB Tre Henderson, Sr. (20 TT, 2 TFL, 3 PBU)
Whip Pernell Williams, So. (22 TT, 2 PBU)
SS Johnnie Houston, Jr. (49 TT, 2 TFL, 2 INT, 1 PBU)
FS Philip George, Jr. (40 TT, 2 TFL, 1 INT, 2 PBU, 1 FR, 1 FF)
S Akeem Wesley, Sr.
PK Grant Clayton, So. (9-of-16 FG, 32-of-34 PAT)
P Austin Cain, So. (50 punts, 34.5 ypp)
BIGGEST LOSS: CB Josh Norman (62 TT, 2 TFL, 2 INT, 12 PBU, 2 FF, 1 BK)
OUTLOOK: There isn't a more curious new coaching hire than Moglia, who was in executive roles at Merrill Lynch and TD Ameritrade and out of football for 26 years until 2009. But this season is Moglia's 20th as a coach, so university officials saw fit to let popular head coach David Bennett go after last season to pave the way for Moglia's hiring. The Chanticleers have a particularly tough non-conference schedule, which they hope will set them up for home games against the Big South powers, Stony Brook and Liberty. Moglia is going with an up-team spread offense and mobile QB Hillary, whose play has been up and down for two seasons, needs to play like a redshirt senior and former South Carolina transfer. He gets help from the depth at running back and wide receiver. Plus safety valve Duran, an All-America tight end, is back as an injury-prone six-year senior. Moglia decided to keep last year's 4-2-5 base defense and the unit should do well. The veteran front, featuring Thomas and the two Davises, will be excellent, which will allow LB Jacobs, the 2010 Big South defensive player of the year, to roam around the field and collect tackles. Considering the schedule, it might be hard for the Chanticleers to have a winning season, but there's no reason they won't be competitive in the Big South.
Sept. 1 - vs. North Carolina A&T
Sept. 8 - at Furman
Sept. 15 - vs. Eastern Kentucky
Sept. 22 - at Toledo
Sept. 29 - at Appalachian State
Oct. 13 - vs. Stony Brook
Oct. 20 - at VMI
Oct. 27 - vs. Liberty
Nov. 3 - at Gardner-Webb
Nov. 10 - at Presbyterian
Nov. 17 - vs. Charleston Southern
5. PRESBYTERIAN BLUE HOSE (4-7 overall, 3-3 Big South)
COACH: Harold Nichols (6-27 in three seasons at Presbyterian)
STARTERS RETURNING: 14 (8 offense/6 defense)
OFFENSIVE STAR: TB Lance Byrd, Sr. (173 carries, 910 yards, 8 TD)
DEFENSIVE STAR: WLB Donelle Williams, So. (83 TT, 2.5 TFL, 1 FR)
OTHER KEY PLAYERS: QB Tamyn Garrick, R-Fr.
QB Chad Sanders, So.
TB Seth Moreland, Jr. (65 carries, 326 yards, 3 TD)
FB Shawn Armstrong, Sr.
WR Anderico Bailey, Sr. (28 receptions, 209 yards, 1 TD)
WR Arthur Williams, Jr. (13 receptions, 190 yards, 2 TD)
Slot Jeremiah McKie, So. (24 receptions, 367 yards, 2 TD)
Slot/KR Michael Ruff, Sr. (38 receptions, 432 yards, 2 TD; 11 carries, 176 yards, 2 TD; 19.7-yard KO return average)
TE Joe Gilkey, Jr. (16 receptions, 161 yards, 3 TD)
LT Tim Fowler, Jr.
LG James Festa, Jr.
C Hunter Gray, So.
RG James Barnes, Fr.
RT Sterling Jenkins, Fr.
DE Logan Daughtry, R-Fr.
NT Bryan Shepherd, Jr.
DT Xavier Boatwright, Sr. (23 TT, 2 sacks, 2 QBH, 1 FF)
DE Josh Polk, So. (15 TT, 4.5 TFL, 2 sacks, 1 INT, 2 PBU, 2 QBH, 1 FR, 1 FF)
MLB Isaiah Lynn, So. (23 TT, 1.5 sacks)
LB Greg Palmer, Jr. (29 TT, 1 QBH, 1 FR)
LB Joe Wideman, Sr.
Bandit L.J. Perry, Jr. (47 TT, 7 TFL, 1 INT, 1 PBU)
CB Cedric Byrd, Jr. (50 TT, 1 INT, 5 PBU, 2 QBH)
CB Antarius Terrell, Sr.
CB Shaq Lamar, R-Fr.
FS Fred Marshall, So. (15 TT, 1 INT)
Rover Nick Newton, So. (16 TT, 2 PBU, 2 FF)
PK Aaron Mayes, Sr. (7-of-11 FG, 26-of-26 PAT)
P Patrick Morgano, Sr. (66 punts, 40.7 ypp)
BIGGEST LOSS: FS Justin Bethel (87 TT, 3.5 TFL, 4 INT, 6 PBU, 1 FF, 3 BK)
OUTLOOK: The Blue Hose are eligible for the Big South title and FCS playoffs for the first time, but are still building toward such a possibility under Nichols. A 4-1 home mark last season boosted the Blue Hose to a higher level of play. They are a mere 1-15 on the road the last three seasons, but have some winnable games on this year's schedule. Meanwhile, the Big South's top teams - Stony Brook, Liberty and Coastal Carolina - have to visit Clinton, S.C. In coming off some solid recruiting classes, Nicholson believes some redshirted players are ready to take important steps. The offense will center around its skill position players. Byrd enters his final season with 1,949 career rushing yards, while McKie and Ruff lead a strong receivers group. What's missing is an experienced quarterback to run the spread. Garrick or Sanders will take over following the departure of Ryan Singer. The playmaking Bethel is the big loss defensively. The building block is WLB Williams, who ranked fifth in the Big South in tackles per game (7.5) last season as a freshman. The Blue Hose have to improve against the run, and Boatwright and Polk factor in as the leaders up front in the 4-3.
Sept. 1 - vs. Brevard
Sept. 8 - at Georgia Tech
Sept. 15 - at Vanderbilt
Sept. 22 - vs. Furman
Sept. 29 - at Davidson
Oct. 6 - at VMI
Oct. 13 - vs. Liberty
Oct. 20 - at Charleston Southern
Oct. 27 - vs. Stony Brook
Nov. 10 - vs. Coastal Carolina
Nov. 17 - at Gardner-Webb
6. CHARLESTON SOUTHERN (0-11 overall, 0-6 Big South)
COACH: Jay Mills (43-57 in nine seasons at Charleston Southern; 46-78 overall)
STARTERS RETURNING: 14 (7 offense/7 defense)
OFFENSIVE STAR: WR Nathan Perera, Jr. (43 receptions, 709 yards, 4 TD)
DEFENSIVE STAR: CB/PR Charles James, Sr. (66 TT, 2 INT, 7 PBU; 9.7-yard punt return average, 1 TD)
OTHER KEY PLAYERS: QB Malcolm Dixon, Jr. (72-of-175, 1,145 yards, 10 TD, 9 INT; 106 carries, 281 yards, 1 TD)
QB Derek Hatcher, Jr.
RB Teddy Allen, Jr. (92 carries, 360 yards, 2 TD)
FB Zac Frazier, So.
WR Mike Davis, Sr. (23 receptions, 240 yards, 2 TD)
WR Corvaughn Archie, Sr. (19 receptions, 355 yards, 1 TD)
WR Chase Jones, Sr. (9 receptions, 125 yards, 2 TD)
WR/RS Kevin Glears, So. (16 receptions, 173 yards; 21.8-yard KO return average)
TE Tanner Rogers, So.
LT Mose Countryman, Fr.
LG Jean Bazile, So.
C Nick Kemper, Sr.
RG/C Jeff Hartung, Jr.
RT Clayton Truitt, So.
DE Cornelius Sterling, Sr. (17 TT, 4 TFL)
DT Isaac McKenzie, Sr.
DT Coril Joseph, Jr. (14 TT, 4.5 TFL)
DT James Smith, So. (28 TT, 2.5 TFL, 1 FR)
DE Will Hunt, Jr. (29 TT, 10.5 TFL, 4 sacks, 5 QBH, 2 FF)
LB Zac Johnston, So. (55 TT, 5 TFL, 1 PBU)
LB Gabe Middlebrook, So.
LB Matt Hardy, Jr. (47 TT, 3 INT, 3 PBU)
LB/LS Mike Chocholosek, Sr. (74 TT, 5.5 TFL, 3 sacks, 1 INT, 3 PBU, 1 FR)
SS Demaris Freeman, Jr. (52 TT, 1 INT, 2 PBU)
SS Austin Wald, Sr. (15 TT, 1 PBU)
FS Elijah Lee, Jr.
CB Damian Dixon, Jr.
PK Mark Deboy, Fr.
P Cameron Mitchell, Fr.
BIGGEST LOSS: CB Chris Kuzdale (72 TT, 1 INT, 2 PBU, 2 FF)
OUTLOOK: On a 12-game losing streak which is the longest in the FCS, Charleston Southern isn't a quick fix. Mills' team is young, but growing in his estimation. The Buccaneers had winning records in 2008 and '09, but it is 3-19 since then. Only one of their first five games are at home, so they face a potentially difficult start to the season. The senior setting the tone is James, the Big South's preseason defensive player of the year. The small playmaker lost a tag-team partner in Kuzdale, but the secondary has other veterans. LB Chocolousek also is back as the team's tackler leader. Of course, the undersized defense was last in the Big South in scoring defense (39.9 ppg) and total defense (442.7 ypg) and needs considerable improvement. The Bucs also ranked last in the conference in scoring offense (16.9 ppg) and total offense (284.1 ypg), so Mills needs more efficiency from Dixon if he is going to remain the starting quarterback over Hatcher. The offense has one of the better wide receivers in the conference in the 6-3 Perra. Three of last year's conference losses were by a touchdown or less, so this is a team anxious to reverse its fortunes.
Sept. 1 - at The Citadel
Sept. 8 - vs. Jacksonville
Sept. 15 - at Illinois
Sept. 22 - at Shorter
Oct. 6 - at Stony Brook
Oct. 13 - vs. VMI
Oct. 20 - vs. Presbyterian
Oct 27 - vs. Edward Waters
Nov. 3 - at Liberty
Nov. 10 - vs. Gardner-Webb
Nov. 17 - at Coastal Carolina
7. VMI KEYDETS (2-9 overall, 2-4 Big South)
COACH: Sparky Woods (11-33 in four seasons at VMI; 74-79-5 overall)
STARTERS RETURNING: 12 (6 offense/6 defense)
OFFENSIVE STAR: QB Eric Kordenbrock, Jr. (170-of-335, 1,792 yards, 10 TD, 9 INT)
DEFENSIVE STAR: SS Michael Johnson, Jr. (58 TT, 2 TFL, 1 INT, 4 PBU, 1 FF)
OTHER KEY PLAYERS: TB David Turner, Jr.
RB Jabari Turner, So. (21 carries, 87 yards, 1 TD)
FB H.L. Temoney, Jr.
WR Aaron Lewis, Sr. (19 receptions, 314 yards, 2 TD)
WR/PR Trent White, Sr. (18 receptions, 179 yards, 1 TD; 9.4-yard punt return average)
WR James Rogers, So. (17 receptions, 124 yards)
WR Stefawn Ross, Sr. (11 receptions, 139 yards, 1 TD)
WR Dexter Bridge, So. (13 receptions, 141 yards, 2 TD)
TE Mario Thompson, Jr.
LT Patrick Goulden, Jr.
LG Robert Collins, Jr.
C Dave Stradford, Sr.
RG Nate Murray, R-Fr.
RT Andy Marcotte, So.
DE Shawn Chapman, Sr. (43 TT, 8.5 TFL, 5 sacks, 2 QBH, 1 FR, 1 FF)
DE Justin Smith, Jr. (38 TT, 3 TFL, 1.5 sacks, 3 QBH)
DE Johnny Washington, So. (16 TT, 2 TFL)
NT Charlie Jones, Sr. (40 TT, 11 TFL, 4 PBU, 3 QBH, 1 FF)
OLB Chris Harper, So. (40 TT, 4 TFL, 2 PBU)
OLB Logan Staib, So. (47 TT, 2.5 TFL, 1 INT, 2 PBU, 1 FR)
ILB Weston Reber, So. (29 TT, 3.5 TFL, 1 FR, 1 FF)
ILB Ty Garvin, R-Fr.
CB James Fruehan, So.
CB Mike Smith, Jr. (29 TT, 1 PBU)
FS Adam Morgan, Jr.
DB Johnny Payne-Wimbish, So. (29 TT, 2 PBU)
PK Jeff Sexton, Sr. (3-of-4 FG; 23-of-25 PAT)
P David Eberhardt, Jr.
BIGGEST LOSSES: RB Chaz Jones (157 carries, 629 yards, 8 TD) and ILB A.J. Gross (90 TT, 6.5 TFL, 2.5 sacks, 1 INT, 2 PBU, 1 FR)
OUTLOOK: As if the struggling Keydets' program doesn't face enough problems as a military school playing in a conference with some powerful teams, it was hit hard by graduation this offseason. The Keydets were the only team without a representative on the Big South preseason team. Although they are competitive in more games than when Woods arrived, this could be a tough season. They have lost Jones, fellow RB T.J. Talley and top receiver Tracy Hairston on offense as well as four of last year's top five tacklers, including two-time All-Big South first-teamer Gross, who had a team-high 90 stops. Offensively, Woods is counting on returning QB Kordenbrock to mature into a steady force. He has plenty of capable receivers at his disposal. New defensive coordinator Jeff Farrington is keeping the 3-4 defense, but his team will play more zone coverage. SS Johnson is the team's top-returning tackler and the defensive front is experienced. Still, the Keydets don't have the talent level of other Big South teams.
Sept. 1 - at Delaware State
Sept. 8 - vs. Chowan
Sept. 15 - vs. Richmond
Sept. 22 - at Navy
Oct. 6 - vs. Presbyterian
Oct. 13 - at Charleston Southern
Oct 20 - vs. Coastal Carolina
Oct. 27 - at Gardner-Webb
Nov. 3 - at Stony Brook
Nov. 10 - vs. The Citadel
Nov. 17 - vs. Liberty