Welcome to the HERO Sports FCS Mailbag. In partnership with FCS Football Fans Nation, we'll ask for questions with a post on their Facebook page and our senior staff members Brian McLaughlin and Sam Herder will provide answers.
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[divider]MORE FCS FOOTBALL:
Adam Willey – How was game day Sam?
Sam: It was an awesome experience. Definitely glad I could make it. We dove into the trip in-depth on our podcast.
Collin Sutrick – Some Delaware fans are calling for Chrissi Rawak, the Delaware AD, to fire Danny Rocco even though 5-7/6-6 was their expectation for this team during preseason. Are Delaware fans just a little too quick to jump the gun or are they making sense?
Brian: It makes ABSOLUTELY NO SENSE for Chrissi (an awesome AD by the way) to fire Danny. Do you realize the mess he inherited and what he did at Richmond? Delaware fans need to realize that Danny is hitting that "blip" where he's dealing with the end of the previous staff and his group is beginning to come to full fruition. I can assure you, as one of the rare people who truly pays attention to FCS recruiting — Delaware is going to be good soon. If you all fire Rocco, somebody else is going to get credit for it and then it may fizzle. Give the guy some room to breathe. You asked for my take? That's my take. Last thing … can we please not be as foolhardy as FBS fans are?
Sam: This is just way too dramatic of a reaction for Delaware fans. The football program, frankly, just isn't on the level of an NDSU or Montana to get rid of a coach this quickly unless there are some ugly things going on behind the scenes, which I'm not aware of. Rocco has made Delaware relevant again rather quickly. And he's a great recruiter, which will show in a couple of years. This season is going exactly how I envisioned it for the Blue Hens. Not many FCS teams can just reload after a such a talented senior class leaves.
Cody Chathams – How does the Gibbs injury affect SDSU going forward? Are they able to get through the rest of their Valley schedule unscathed with UNI and Illinois State left?
Brian: It's a big hit Cody. I'm curious too. UNI and Illinois State aren't exactly weak-sister opponents to wrap things with. But I will say this, the Jacks sure scared the hell out of NDSU, even with 2nd and 3rd string QBs in there. You do the math.
Sam: I think it's safe to say that SDSU's ultimate goal of a national title just got tougher. That's the case with any team when your starting QB goes down. But the Jacks did show how good they can still be against NDSU without Gibbs and I think they're still a Top 4 team in the FCS. Now true freshman Keaton Heide has a full week to prepare as a starter, but teams are now prepared on how to defend him and SDSU's offense. The Jacks have had tough losses in previous years that have knocked them from a high seed to a lower seed. There are some tough games remaining, but I think SDSU can win out to close the regular season.
Scott Moody – What are the likely playoff elimination games this weekend?
Brian: Honestly Scott, I appreciate the question but we still have four more weeks left. It's really hard to pin that on this weekend, but this question will be a massive question in two weeks. If I really had to reach? I'd say Monmouth probably needs to win this weekend at Kennesaw State to make the playoffs. In general? I'll say this without rattling off teams and boring the readers … if you're in a "Power 3" conference situation? I'm talking about Big Sky/CAA/MVFC … your life isn't over at 7 wins, but it's close. If you hit 8 wins? I think you're in. For the rest of the at-large hopeful conferences? I think 8 wins isn't a guarantee … and even 9 wins depending on the resume isn't a guarantee, but it's probable. I'll go more "vague" in the response, Scott. The truth is, teams around the FCS might want to pay very close attention to bubble teams around the FCS Nation and not just their own situation.
Paul Alexander Dobson – Illinois State has 4 remaining games. Do you think they'll hit a skid like the past couple of seasons? If not, what record do you predict for the final 4 games?
Brian: What a brutal road they have, right? BUT … aside from the SDSU road trip I don't think they have a game where they're necessarily deep down underdogs. I think ISU hits 8 or 9 wins at the very least this year, and depending on the SDSU injury situation? They have the potential to win 10. I have them beating UNI this weekend but still truly believe this is a 50/50 game. It's interesting to think this team could be 7-5 or 10-2 … and honestly? I don't know exactly which directly it goes.
Sam: This is a great question. I'm very curious about this Redbirds team. It sits at 6-1 versus the FCS and is ranked in the Top 10. Yet there just doesn't seem to be a whole lot of national buzz around this team. They have won three straight since losing an ugly one to NDSU. But now the true tests come with the likes of hosting No. 9 UNI this week and going to No. 4 SDSU next week. A road game at YSU to end the regular season won't be easy either. I think Illinois State loses one more game before the playoffs, most likely to SDSU.
Christopher Emil Johnson – Best defense?
Brian: Statistically? Kennesaw State and CCSU at No.1 and No. 2 …. realistically? The No. 3 and No. 4 teams in "that" ranking … NDSU and JMU. And as all of the pundits say, defense wins championships.
Sam: In no particular order and using my eyeballs more than statistics — NDSU, SDSU, Weber State and JMU. Others that are playing solid defense are Kennesaw, UNH, Sac State, Illinois State, SHSU, UNI and CCSU (and I'm sure there are plenty of others that I can't think of off the top of my head right now).
Josh VerStandig – Why is Towson still ranked and Albany not ranked?
Brian: Because the polls are jacked up. I can spend another 20 mins explaining why. But man, I'm so tired of doing it, I'm not going to. All I can say is that Albany is really the "first" team left off my ballot, the one I released this week. Towson isn't on my ballot anywhere. One more key win and Albany is in my Top 25 vote. I'm not going to tell people how to vote anymore, it's Un-American anyway. But? I'll tell you how I'll vote if Albany wins again this week … The Great Danes on my ballot and continue to head towards an at-large playoff bid, in my opinion.
Sam: I have no idea. There's really no reason for Towson to be ranked ahead of Albany and I too would be curious to hear the reason why for voters that did so.
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