New Hampshire Football Report

UNH seventh in FCS Top 25

CAA Football led all FCS conferences with six ranked teams in the 2018 STATS FCS Preseason Top 25 poll, which was released on Monday afternoon.

James Madison, which has advanced to the FCS national championship game for the past two seasons, received six first-place votes and is ranked No. 2 to start the season. New Hampshire opens the year at No. 7 in the poll, followed by No. 12 Elon, No. 15 Delaware, No. 19 Villanova and No. 20 Stony BrookRichmond was among other teams receiving votes.

JMU returns 12 starters from last year’s 14-1 squad that captured its third straight CAA Football crown with an 8-0 mark. Offensively, the Dukes bring back their top three rushers and two of their three leading receivers. Five starters are back from a JMU defense that allowed 11.1 points per game, which was the best in the nation. Preseason All-America cornerbacks Rashad Robinson and Jimmy Moreland anchor a secondary that recorded an FCS-best 31 interceptions in 2017.

New Hampshire has nine starters back on both offense and defense from last year’s 9-5 squad that earned a FCS playoff berth for a record 14th-straight season and advanced to the quarterfinals. Quarterback Trevor Knight guides the Wildcats’ offense after passing for 3,433 yards and 26 TDs a year ago, and he welcomes back his top target, All-America receiver Neil O’Connor (97 rec., 1,396 yds, 10 TD’s). Linebacker Quinlen Dean made a team-high 124 tackles and spearheads the UNH defense.

Coming off its first FCS playoff berth since 2009, Elon has nine starters back on both offense and defense from an 8-4 team. Quarterback Davis Cheek threw for 2,431 yards and 15 TDs in his rookie campaign and the Phoenix feature three backs who combined to rush for nearly 1,900 yards. All-America linebacker Warren Messer (114 tackles) and safety Tyler Campbell are Elon’s leaders defensively.

Delaware posted a 7-4 overall mark in 2017 and has eight starters returning on offense and seven on defense. All-America defensive back Nasir Adderley (78 tackles, five interceptions) and veteran linebackers Troy Reeder and Charles Bell anchor a defense that surrendered only 16.8 points per game last season. Leading rusher Kani Kane (594 yds, seven TDs) and top receiver Jamie Jarmon pace the UD offense.

Villanova is expected to bounce back after suffering through an injury-plagued season a year ago. Quarterback Zach Bednarczyk, running back Aaron Forbes and tight end Ryan Bell are experienced playmakers offensively. The Wildcats’ nationally ranked defense returns seven starters, including All-America safety Rob Rolle and linebacker Jeff Steeb (90 tackles, five sacks).

Stony Brook advanced to the second round of the FCS playoffs in 2017 after tying a school record for overall wins (10-3) and posting a best-ever 7-1 mark in CAA play. Senior quarterback Joe Carbone passed for 2,470 yards and 23 TDs last season and leads a group of six returning starters on offense. The Seawolves’ defense, which was among the best in FCS, features senior linebacker Shayne Lawless (93 tackles).

CAA Football’s six ranked teams was one better than the Missouri Valley Football Conference, which had five ranked squads, led by No. 1 North Dakota State. The Southland Conference was next with four ranked teams, followed by the Big Sky and Southern conferences with three apiece.

2018 STATS FCS Preseason Top 25 Poll

  1. North Dakota State (151 first-place votes)
  2. James Madison (6 first-place votes)
  3. South Dakota State
  4. Sam Houston State
  5. Kennesaw State
  6. Jacksonville State
  7. New Hampshire
  8. Weber State
  9. Eastern Washington
  10. Wofford
  11. Samford
  12. Elon
  13. UNI
  14. North Carolina A&T
  15. Delaware
  16. Central Arkansas
  17. McNeese
  18. Nicholls
  19. Villanova
  20. Stony Brook
  21. Illinois State
  22. Austin Peay
  23. Furman
  24. Montana
  25. Youngtown State

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