HERO Sports welcomes you to "Three-a-Days", where we will preview every single one of the 126 FCS programs, with three teams being released each day from June 17 to July 28. Then, we'll preview all 13 conferences from August 1-4. Today, we present … Albany.
We'll leave no stone left unturned when it comes to giving the FCS diehards all they could ask for this offseason. Learn about every program in the country, with HERO Sports.
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ALBANY (3-8 IN 2018)
CAA (Albany was 12th in CAA in 2018)
COACH: Greg Gattuso – At School: 6th year (24-32 record), Overall: 18th year (121-64-0)
LAST FCS POSTSEASON: 2011 First Round loss to Stony Brook
2018 OFFENSE: 21.1 ppg. (100th in FCS)
2018 DEFENSE: 30.6 ppg. (79th in FCS)
KEY GAME: Nov. 23 – @ Stony Brook: Last year, Albany wrapped the season with its lone CAA win over playoff-bound Stony Brook in the "Empire Clash". This 24-year rivalry could end up being the signature game of the Great Danes' season once again, and could have postseason implications for these two New York schools.
SUM IT UP: Will the injury bug ever leave this program alone and just let it have one season unscathed? The Great Danes' coaching staff is holding on line one, hoping for an answer to this question that has been posed to The Fates. If you embrace the positive spin on this though, a lot of young players received playing time last year, though they took their lumps as the CAA had six playoff teams in it and didn't exactly make it easy for a young opponent. So this year, we get to see how all of that early playing time works out for Albany. The offensive line is almost entirely intact, the two-year starting running back is back and the top six receiving targets are still on the roster. Sophomore QB Jeff Undercuffler is back after starting three games, including the big win in the season finale against rival and playoff-bound Stony Brook.
The defense returns six of its top seven tacklers, an 11-game starter on the defensive line and four members of the secondary who can make plays. Now granted, the offense stalled much of last year and the defense had trouble stopping opponents at times, but the lineup was young and these guys learned a ton — so this year should be pretty interesting. Add in that Albany has done a pretty nice job in recruiting these past few classes, and you have to like where this is heading — but then again? The CAA is a gauntlet.
OUR TAKE: To start with, there is absolutely no way Albany finishes dead last in the CAA for the second consecutive year. Last year, the William & Mary, Richmond and Delaware games could easily have been wins, so this team wasn't that far from a winning record. If the quarterback situation firms up, the offense may produce 10 to 15 more points a game than it did last year, and the defense undoubtedly will improve. Remember, there is still a core of this group that was on the 2016 team that was head-scratchingly snubbed from the FCS playoffs at 7-4. This group of upperclassmen has tasted winning. Don't be surprised when the season opener at Central Michigan is a down-to-the-wire brawl that could go either way, and the next three non-conference games are quite winnable — and the Great Danes should win a couple of CAA games, also. I think the happy spot here is six wins, and Albany will once again have an impact on the postseason picture. Mark it down, they'll ruin some top CAA program's day this fall.
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COUNTDOWN: The Best Player in FCS Who Wears Each Number, 1-99
TOP RETURNEE: Soph./WR Dev Holmes (HERO Sports Freshman All American – 50 catches, 734 yds, 5 TDs)
THE FOUNDATION: Jr./OL Micah Royster (3rd year as a starter); Sr./OL Sean Kennedy (3rd year as a starter); Jr./RB Karl Mofor (596 yds rushing, 5 TDs, 198 yds receiving, 2 TDs); LB/Jr. Levi Metheny (2018 leading tackler with 92, also 9.5 TFLs, 2 INTs); Soph./LB Danny Damico (2nd leading tackler, 81 tackles); Sr./LB Eli Mencer (3rd leading tackler, 58 tackles, 8.5 TFLs); Sr./DT Nick Dillon (11-game starter, 22 tackles, 6 hurries); Jr./SS Tyler Carswell (43 tackles in just 8 games); Soph./FS A.J. Mistler (58 tackles); Sr./CB Kareem Gibson (42 tackles, 9 passes defensed); Sr./WR-RS Donovan McDonald (943 all purpose yards).
TOP NEWCOMER: Fr./WR Jordan Irizarry (Florida native who also reported Boston College and Air Force Academy offers).
THE QUOTE: "The big thing for me, looking back (to 2018), is how well we played down the stretch. Every single game we played hard. We were a much better football team the last three weeks of the season than we were the first three weeks. We progressed." — Head Coach Greg Gattuso said during spring ball
WERE WE RIGHT?: Last Year's Albany Preview
FCS 2020 NFL PROSPECTS: The List
BEST FCS TRADITIONS: The List
PREVIEWS: The Rest Of CAA
Albany | Delaware | Elon | James Madison
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