HERO Sports welcomes you to "Two-a-Days", where we will preview every single one of the 125 FCS programs, with two being released each day from June 18 to August 18 (with the final day having three in one day). Today we give you … Northern Colorado.
NORTHERN COLORADO (3-7 IN 2017)
Big Sky (UNC was 10th in 2017)
COACH: Earnest Collins Jr. – 8th year (24-53 record)
2017 OFFENSE: 27.8 ppg. (45th in FCS)
2017 DEFENSE: 34.1 ppg. (105th in FCS)
SUM IT UP: After back-to-back winning seasons in 2015 and 2016, the Bears slipped back down to 3-7 last year. But there are a lot of positives heading into 2018. The big key is if quarterback Jacob Knipp can stay healthy. He had a terrific freshman season in 2015 with 1,969 yards passing and 13 touchdowns. But he injured his shoulder early in 2016 and missed the season. Then last year, he played in just 4.5 games before hurting the same shoulder. In those 4.5 games, Knipp threw for 1,352 yards and nine touchdowns. He'll have a big-time playmaker back in receiver Alex Wesley, a preseason All-Big Sky selection who went over 1,000 yards receiving last year. Top rusher Trae Riek also returns with the offensive line intact. The defense did struggle last season, but returns four of its top five tacklers.
BEST-CASE SCENARIO: There are probably 6-7 teams in the preseason who look to compete for a playoff spot out of the Big Sky. UNC hasn't really been a part of that discussion. While making the postseason isn't out of the question, the goal should be to add more wins on the board and get back to a winning record and let the rest fall as it may.
TOP RETURNEE: WR Alex Wesley (Preseason All-Big Sky)
THE NEXT BEST: QB Jacob Knipp (starter who's been injured the last two years); RB Trae Riek (523 yards, 6 TDs); DE Keifer Morris (All-Big Sky Third Team); CB Marshaun Cameron (All-Conference Honorable Mention); S Sherand Boyd (top returning tackler, 84 total)
DID YOU KNOW?: Before the school adopted the bear mascot in 1923, athletes used the nickname "the Teachers."
THE QUOTE: "It's about commitment, Dave Meyers one of our awesome alumni that has been through with us in the thick and thin challenged us today at the captains meeting to challenge each other to just commit on what is going to get us to the top. Right now it is just about the commitment to getting through these next 45 days before we get to summer workouts and roll into fall camp. It is about what you are willing to do to get yourself to the top of the Big Sky." — Head Coach Earnest Collins Jr. said after spring ball
SOCIAL MEDIA SPOTLIGHT
THE HASHTAG: #GoUNCBears
FOOTBALL TWITTER: @UNCBearsFB