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 … Butler.
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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Butler (4-7 IN 2018)
Pioneer Football League (Butler finished 7th in 2018)
COACH: Jeff Voris At School: 14th year (74-72) Overall: 19th year (89-106)
LAST FCS POSTSEASON: 2013 (1st Round)
2018 OFFENSE: 23.5 ppg. (92nd in FCS)
2018 DEFENSE: 33.8 ppg. (92nd in FCS)
KEY GAME: Oct. 5 – @ Stetson: The Bulldogs avoid the reigning PFL champs San Diego, but kick off the 2019 conference schedule by traveling to Stetson. The Hatters finished tied for second in the standings at 6-2 with one of those losses coming against Butler, 28-23.
SUM IT UP: Butler earned its program and the PFL a ton of respect on Sept. 1 with a 23-21 win at No. 24 Youngstown State. It was one of the more shocking upsets of the 2018 season. And there was nothing flashy about it. The Bulldogs just straight up beat the Penguins. However, they weren't able to capitalize on that momentum, finishing 2-6 in league standings. One of those victories came in November against Stetson, who finished 6-2 in the PFL and 8-2 overall. So Butler showed flashes of what it could do. Now the Bulldogs need to show more consistency and will have to do it by replacing seven starters on offense and six on defense.
The returning pieces are strong. Luke Sennett and Mason Brunner combined for 177 tackles last year. Brad Sznajder is a near 1,000-yard rusher. And Stephen Dennis is a steady target in the passing game and is back for his senior year. But the Bulldogs do have big holes to fill at the quarterback spot and offensive and defensive lines. John McArthur is the lone returning starter on the OL while Mickey Kane is the only starter back on the DL coming off a Co-Freshman Defensive Player of the Year honor.
Butler had a strong passing game a year ago, but two playmakers are gone. Will Marty threw for 2,679 yards and 19 touchdowns and wide receiver Pace Temple was a stud with 1,097 yards receiving and nine TDs. Having a reliable passing game is key so defenses don't zone in on stopping Sznajder.
OUR TAKE: Butler is challenging itself once again in the nonconference. The Bulldogs travel to face reigning national champs North Dakota State at Target Field in Minneapolis along with Princeton, who went 10-0 last year out of the Ivy League. However, home games against non-D1 opponents Indiana Wesleyan and Taylor should have them likely looking at a 2-2 record heading into Pioneer play. And that's where the money is made.
Butler lost two games in November by four points or less. Things go differently here or the ball bounces another way there and a 4-4 conference record was that close. There's too much inexperience and unknowns right now on this team to determine where the Bulldogs will land in the conference standings. But expect an improvement to the 2-6 record from last year.
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COUNTDOWN: The Best Player in FCS Who Wears Each Number, 1-99
TOP RETURNEE: Sr./LB Mason Brunner (Second Team Team All-PFL, 73 tackles)
THE FOUNDATION: Sr./DB Luke Sennett (Second Team Team All-PFL, 104 tackles); Sr./ K Drew Bevelhimer (8-9 FGs); So./DE Mickey Kane (PFL Co-Freshman Defensive Player of the Year, 10 TFLs, 5 sacks); Sr./RB Brad Sznajder (All-PFL HM, 972 rushing yards, 5 TDs); Sr./OL John McArthur (Lone returning starter on OL)
THE QUOTE: "The Bulldogs are looking forward to the 150th anniversary season of college football. No doubt, we are taking on our most challenging schedule to date, but we are excited about the twelve opportunities in front of us. We have six great road tests and six outstanding opponents visiting the Sellick Bowl on the campus of Butler University. With this schedule, we will certainly need our best effort in preparation for the upcoming season." — Head Coach Jeff Voris said
WERE WE RIGHT?: Last Year's Butler Preview
FCS 2020 NFL PROSPECTS: The List
BEST FCS TRADITIONS: The List
PREVIEWS: The Rest Of The PFL
Butler | Davidson | Dayton | Drake
Jacksonville | Marist | Morehead State
San Diego | Stetson | Valparaiso
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