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 … Long Island University.
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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NEC (This is LIU's 1st year in the FCS)
COACH: Bryan Collins – At School: 2nd year (160-72) Overall: Same
LAST POSTSEASON: 2018 (D2 1st Round)
2018 OFFENSE: 30.0 ppg (60th in D2)
2018 DEFENSE: 12.9 ppg (4th in D2)
KEY GAME: Sept. 21 vs. Sacred Heart: This is a tremendous test to see how well LIU can do in the NEC. Sacred Heart went 5-1 in conference play last year and looks to be near the top once again.
SUM IT UP: The Sharks arrive in the FCS coming off a great run at the D2 level. In the previous five seasons, LIU has gone 10-1, 8-2, 12-1, 7-4 and 8-4. It joins the Northeast Conference along with Merrimack College, who is from the same NE10 conference.
This is a program that believes in strong defense. The Sharks ranked fourth in D2 last year, allowing just 12.9 points per game. Five of the 11 top tacklers return, so there's a decent chunk of production that needs to be replaced.
The offense needs to replace its starting quarterback, top rusher and its top three wide receivers. Jonathan DeBique has a bright future in the backfield as he was named to the conference All-Rookie Team in 2018 after rushing for 410 yards and three touchdowns. He'll run behind an offensive line led by sophomores Ronin Guerra and Greg Amato
OUR TAKE: While the Sharks lose an extremely talented senior class, this program has shown the ability to reload over the last five years. Obviously doing it at the Division I FCS level is a whole different challenge. But the expectation for the 2019 squad is to compete and win some games. North Alabama showed a team can transition from D2 to the FCS and be competitive right away. The Lions went 7-3 overall, granted they weren't playing a full D1 schedule like LIU is playing this year. Still, North Alabama defeated a Southern Utah team from an FCS power conference and played eventual national champs North Dakota State much tougher than the 38-7 final score indicates.
LIU makes its FCS debut at preseason No. 5 South Dakota State. The Sharks also face a tough Villanova team in the nonconference slate and take on fellow D2-to-FCS mate Merrimack. They play a full NEC schedule, which presents several challenges. But let's be real, it's not like LIU is transitioning into the CAA. The Sharks definitely can be competitive in the conference. They'll take their lumps. That's to be expected. Make no mistake, though, this is a strong program entering the subdivision.
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COUNTDOWN: The Best Player in FCS Who Wears Each Number, 1-99
TOP RETURNEE: So./RB Jonathan DeBique (NE10 All-Rookie Team, 410 yards rushing and 3 TDs)
THE FOUNDATION: Sr./DL Abel Joseph (29 tackles, 7 TFLS, 3 sacks, 9 QBHs); So./OL Ronin Guerra (NE10 All-Rookie Team); So./OL Greg Amato (NE10 All-Rookie Team)
THE QUOTE: "We are excited to be able to compete at the highest level. We know that we have some tough opponents on the schedule, but we are confident in our players and are looking forward to getting better each day this spring and during camp as we prepare for Division I competition." — Head Coach Bryan Collins said
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