Cortland State enters 2014 at number 19 in our rankings. Check out our Top 25 Season Preview for more on the top college teams to watch this fall. Can’t find your team in the Top 25? View our full rankings to see where every team stands.
Last Season: 6-5 (5-2) New Jersey Athletic Conference
The Red Dragons played some tough out-of-conference games last season against three schools from the conference they’ll be a part of starting in the 2015 season – the Empire 8. They lost to Buffalo State 41-28 week one and at St. John Fisher 33-25 in week three, but won their regular season finale at Ithaca 28-24. A 1-2 record against one of the toughest conferences in D3 is promising, and should serve as a good introduction to the Empire 8 style of play. During their New Jersey Athletic Conference schedule, Cortland went 5-2 with home-wins over William Paterson, Kean, the College of New Jersey, and Morrisville State, as well as a win on the road at Montclair State.
Cortland State’s only two conference-losses were to the top two teams in the conference: Rowan and Brockport State, both on the road, and both by narrow margins. The Red Dragons jumped out to a 10-point lead over Brockport thanks to some trickery on the opening kickoff return but ultimately fell 49-32 after a 21-point fourth quarter by Brockport. The Rowan game was a low-scoring affair (as most Rowan Games were last season) in which no team scored in the second half. It ended in a 10-9 defeat for Cortland. The Red Dragons finished third in the NJAC behind the two schools they lost to, and missed the playoffs.
– Justin Autera RB – Captain, Second team All-NJAC, 123 carries, 400 yards, 4 TDs
– Joe Kirchner DL – Captain, Second team All-NJAC, 34 tackles, 9 TFL, 6 sacks, 1 FF
– Nick Daley K – First team All-NJAC, 10/12 FGs (83.3%), long of 39, 45 punts, 36.2 yard average, 59 kickoffs, 61.6 yard average
What to Watch For
The Lowest Turnover – The biggest loss for the Red Dragons, production wise, was undoubtedly kicker Nick Daley – the only first team all-conference Red Dragon to graduate. Just to be clear, the “Dearly Departed” section normally lists the five to ten players who contributed the most to the team, not just the biggest single loss on offense, defense, and special teams. The three players listed above are ALL the losses. Cortland State lost fewer contributors than any team in our top 25, and it’s not really close.
Justin Autera was a captain last season, but his 3.3 ypc average was far lower than his platoon-mate Dylan Peebles and quarterback Tyler Hughes, who both finished the season with a 5.2 ypc averages on a similar number of carries. Joe Kirchner was a captain on the defense, but wasn’t one of the top 11 tacklers on the team. Two players had more sacks than the defensive lineman, and four had more quarterback hurries. I don’t want to diminish the contributions of Autera and Kirchner, who were definitely important players in terms of leadership and production, but they were only two players!
Just about everyone is back, the senior class is as strong as any in the conference, and they’ll add talented youngsters to the mix as well – guys who will compete for starting spots. It’s an exciting time in Cortland.
In their final season as a member of the New Jersey Athletic Conference, the [tooltip text=”Red Dragons” gravity=”n”]coolest mascot in D3?[/tooltip] are primed for success. They’ll return 10 of 11 starters on both sides of the ball, and their biggest challenger from last season, Brockport, isn’t a member of the conference anymore. The Golden Eagles moved over to the Empire 8 one season earlier than Cortland and Morrisville. Cortland has had this every-other-year title streak happening for the past few years; even numbered years are kind of their thing. Expect them to take the NJAC title with them when they leave for the Empire 8 next season.