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 … Monmouth.
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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The Big South (Monmouth was 2nd in 2018)
COACH: Kevin Callahan – At School: 28th year (152-121-0 record) Overall: Same
LAST FCS POSTSEASON: 2017 (First round loss to Northern Iowa)
2018 OFFENSE: 33.2 ppg. (23rd in FCS)
2018 DEFENSE: 31.5 ppg. (82nd in FCS)
KEY GAME: Nov. 2 – at Kennesaw State: Monmouth may well have stockpiled six or seven wins by the time it hits this game on the schedule, but this is the true measuring stick for the Hawks. The past three seasons, Kennesaw has averaged more than 50 points per game against Monmouth. The Hawks certainly want to prove they can hang with the Owls in Atlanta.
SUM IT UP: If you're a Monmouth fan, you have to be excited about this fall knowing you have your career 6,000-yard passer back in Kenji Bahar (17 wins as full-time starter the past two years) as well as your two-headed rushing attack that was good for nearly 2,000 yards and 16 rushing touchdowns in 2018. Your head coach is a proven winner and really is hitting that "legend" realm, your recruiting has been stellar in recent cycles and your team has been in the playoff discussion for two years. After being a clear No. 2 team in the Big South Conference behind FCS powerhouse Kennesaw State the past two seasons, now the Owls will be retooling the lineup because of graduation. Does that mean Monmouth has a chance to catch up? We'll see.
On offense, the skill talent returning is impressive, as mentioned above. The offensive line needs to be rebuilt some, and a new No. 1 target in the passing game will need to emerge with Reggie White Jr. taking his talents and 1,000-yard season to the New York Giants this spring. This side of the ball should still be able to score a lot of points, though. It's always nice to have a 6,000-yard passer back in the fold.
When it comes to defense, Monmouth would sure love to avoid getting into some of the high-scoring shootouts it found itself in last year. The Wagner and Gardner-Webb contests were 101 points and 98 points respectively, and the Hawks' three losses (Eastern Michigan, Ivy League champ Princeton and Big South champ Kennesaw State) saw the defense give up 150+ points combined. The 'D' brings back seven players who combine for 76 career starts, so that's a starting point. The top tackler (Tymere Berry) and negative-yardage guy (Anthony Budd) return, so that's a plus.
OUR TAKE: Monmouth has clearly been the No. 2 team in the Big South Conference for the past two seasons. We knew that coming into 2018, also. They may get challenged this year for that spot, but one has to figure they'll be near the top of the league again. Looking at the schedule, the trips to FBS Western Michigan and the Big Sky's Montana are big ones, and the home game with an improved Albany team out of the CAA is no gimme win either. Last year, the non-conference wins with Lafayette and Wagner were both close. To sum up? The nonconference schedule doesn't have any cupcakes on it. As for in conference, keep your eye on North Alabama this year, and Charleston Southern faithful swear there is a turnaround brewing in this once-proud program. The Big South could have a battle on its hands for No. 2, but Kennesaw State — even with its first senior class graduated — still looks pretty good. We think the ceiling potential for Monmouth is probably 8-4, but if the Big South newbies step up their game, this could be a team in the 6-6 to 7-5 realm, even with the team playing good ball.
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COUNTDOWN: The Best Player in FCS Who Wears Each Number, 1-99
TOP RETURNEE: Sr./QB Kenji Bahar (2nd Team All Big South – 2,626 yards passing, 20 TDs)
THE FOUNDATION: Jr./RB Peter Guerriero (HERO Sports Sophomore All American – 918 yards rushing, 8 TDs); Jr./DB Justin Terry (HERO Sports Sophomore All American – 46 tackles, 4.5 TFLs, 13 passes defensed); Soph./RB Juwon Farri (HERO Sports Freshman All American – 1,024 yards rushing, 8 TDs); Sr./DB Tymere Berry (1st Team All Big South – 60 tackles led team in 2018, 10 passes defensed); Sr./PK Matt Mosquera (1st Team All Big South – 10 of 12 field goals); Sr./TE Jake Powell (1st Team All Big South – 54 career receptions, 6 TDs); Sr./RB Devell Jones (8 rushing TDs); Jr./DB Anthony Budd (45 tackles, 7.5 TFLs); Sr./OL Mahmoud Shabana (16 career starts on the O-line); Jr./DL Erik Massey (4 TFLs, 20 tackles, 5 hurries); Jr./LB DeJaun Cooper (32 tackles, 4 hurries); Sr./LB Evan Powell (32 tackles, 5.5 TFLs, 2 INTs)
TOP NEWCOMER: Fr./LB Isaiah Bishop (No. 60 ranked signee in the HERO Sports 2019 Ranking — reported a Missouri offers, along with 3 other FBS offers)
THE QUOTE: "After opening the season against Western Michigan, we will return home to face Lafayette (Patriot) and Albany (CAA), before travel to play Montana from the Big Sky Conference. It is an extremely demanding 12 game-schedule. In 2019, the Big South will be as competitive as it has ever been." — Head Coach Kevin Callahan said during spring ball
WERE WE RIGHT?: Last Year's Monmouth Preview
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SUBSCRIBE: HERO Sports FCS Podcast