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 … Dayton.
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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Dayton (6-5 IN 2018)
COACH: Rick Chamberlin – At School: 12th year (85-38) Overall: Same
LAST FCS POSTSEASON: 2015 (First Round)
2018 OFFENSE: 35.8 ppg. (13th in FCS)
2018 DEFENSE: 26.1 ppg. (T45th in FCS)
KEY GAME: Oct. 26 vs. San Diego: Every team eyes this game on their conference schedule. The Toreros have been at the top of the PFL the last few years without any losses. Dayton can make a statement with this one.
SUM IT UP: The Flyers were a better team than their 6-5 record may indicate. Three of those five losses came against playoff teams (SEMO, Duquesne and San Diego). Conference foe USD hasn't lost a PFL game since 2015, which came against Dayton. The Flyers pushed the Toreros in last year's matchup before falling 36-34. And the loss to Duquesne, who made the second round of the playoffs, was by only five points.
So expectations are high for Dayton this year to turn those close losses to wins, especially when you consider seven starters return on an explosive offense and six starters are back on defense.
This is an offense, well for one thing, has one of the best streaks in college football. Dayton has not been shutout in 476 games, the longest active streak in college football. It dates back to the 1976 season and current head coach Rick Chamberlin actually played in that game as a linebacker for the Flyers. The offense was especially impressive last year.
Jack Cook stepped into the starting role after fifth-year senior Alex Jeske suffered a season-ending knee injury in the first quarter of the season opener. He threw for 2,421 yards, 20 touchdowns and just two interceptions. Cook was named the PFL Offensive Freshman of the Year and a HERO Sports Freshman All-American. His top two pass catchers return — tight end Adam Trautman and wide receiver Ryan Skibinski. Both are within striking distance of breaking the school's record for career receptions, which is 133. Trautman has 108 and Skibinski has 102. The Flyers do have questions in the running game, though, replacing some holes on the offensive line along with 1,340-yard running back Tucker Yinger. Cook was the second-leading rusher with 423 yards and eight touchdowns.
Linebacker Andrew Lutgens is the physical and emotional leader of the defense. Safety Tim Simon is the top returning tackler after finishing second on the team last year with 75. And big things are expected from defensive tackle Mike Stodola this year. He broke out last season as a freshman with 22 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks in a role that didn't see him start, but earn a lot of reps.
OUR TAKE: Dayton challenges itself once again in the nonconference. It has a rematch versus Duquesne and travels to Indiana State, a playoff bubble team expected to be in postseason contention this year. While San Diego won the PFL last year, it was challenged by a number of teams more than past years. The Flyers were one of those teams and ultimately went 5-3 in the conference. Expectations should be for that win total to increase. By how much? It's tough to say with a few key starting roles needing to be filled. But there's no doubt Dayton is going to play a part in the title race.
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COUNTDOWN: The Best Player in FCS Who Wears Each Number, 1-99
TOP RETURNEE: Sr./LB Andrew Lutgens (First Team All-Conference, 68 tackles, 10 TFLs, 2019 team captain)
THE FOUNDATION: Sr./TE Adam Trautman (Second Team All-Conference, 41 rec. for 604 yards and 9 TDs, 2019 team captain); Sr./WR RS Kyle Butz (AC HM, 11.9 PR yards, 340 rec. yards, 2019 special teams captain); So./QB Jack Cook (AC HM, HERO Sports Freshman All-American, PFL Offensive Freshman of the Year, 2,421 yards passing and 20 TDs with 2 INT, 8 rushing TDs); Sr./OL Michael Niese (AC HM, 2-year starter); Sr./DB Tim Simon (Top returning tackler, 75 total last year); Sr./WR Ryan Skibinski (33 catches for 497 yards and 5 TDs)
TOP NEWCOMER: Fr./LB Alex Hirschfield (Big recruit out of Illinois with impressive HS accolades: First Team All-Conference, First Team All-Area, First Team All-State, Team Defensive MVP)
THE QUOTE: "Our 2019 schedule will again be a challenging one, especially having more road games than home. Our non-conference schedule puts us on the road two of the three by going to Indiana State and Robert Morris. Duquesne and San Diego were both in the FCS playoffs last year. As always, the PFL schedule will be tough. The league just keeps getting better, and going on the road to play at Valparaiso, Stetson, Morehead State and Drake makes it that much tougher." — Head Coach Rick Chamberlin said
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