HERO Sports welcomes you to "Three-a-Days", where we will preview every single one of the 126 FCS programs from June 17 to August 6. Then, we'll preview all 13 conferences from August 12-15. Today, we present … Portland State.
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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Portland State (4-7 IN 2018)
Big Sky (PSU finished T9th in 2018)
COACH: Bruce Barnum – At School: 5th Year (16-29) Overall: Same
LAST FCS POSTSEASON: 2015 (Second Round)
2018 OFFENSE: 27.5 ppg (62nd in FCS)
2018 DEFENSE: 36.2 ppg (104th in FCS)
KEY GAME: Nov. 2 vs. Montana: This was the signature win last year for the Vikings when they went into No. 14 Montana's house on its homecoming and hit a game-winning field goal to shock the FCS. The Grizzlies will be looking for revenge, and there's a chance they'll be ranked once again during the time of this game. This is a biggie for Portland State to show it can do it again.
SUM IT UP: Portland State is building something. Last year was a positive step in the right direction, going from 0-11 in 2017 to 4-7. A good chunk of that team is back, suggesting 2019 could be a breakthrough year for the Vikings.
The offense has nine starters coming back and the defense returns eight. This will be the most experienced team since 2015, a squad that beat two FBS teams and earned a playoff seed.
Coach Barnum has rebuilt the program back to where it wants to be through high school recruits. And the Vikings hit it out of the park with their 2019 class, which was the 13th best in our HERO Sports rankings.
Davis Alexander and Jalani Eason are both dual-threat quarterbacks that have taken almost all of the reps these last two seasons. Alexander got 10 starts last year and had more than 2,000 yards of total offense. Rutgers transfer Jalen Chatman was added to the quarterback mix this spring and could push for the starting job.
Portland State loses its top rusher, but Carlos Martin and Sirgeo Hoffman weren't that far behind in production. Expect both of them to complement a passing attack that has its top four pass catchers back. Tight end Charlie Taumoepeau leads that group as a HERO Sports Preseason All-American. Mataio Talalemotu and Emmanuel Daigbe also proved to be great targets as well.
All-Big Sky Third Teamer Korbin Sorensen leads an experienced offensive line group along with sixth-year senior Garrett Stauffer.
If this team wants to take that next step forward, the defense needs to improve. Allowing 36.2 points a game won't get it done, no matter how explosive your offense is. The good news is a ton of experience comes back. It all starts up front. Kenton Bartlett and Semise Kofe earned All-Big Sky honors last year at defensive tackle. Romeo Gunt is solid at his safety position and is the team's top returning tackler. He had 58 last year, which ranked third on the team.
OUR TAKE: The Vikings are building the program the right way to replicate 2015's success. It would've been easy to try and strike gold with transfers, but they've stuck through some growing pains with young players. And this is still a young team overall, but the experience factor tells us this group has a shot to go over .500 in 2019. The nonconference slate is interesting with two FBS games and two non-Division 1 games. Then it's on to the Big Sky schedule, where Portland State avoids Montana State and Weber State and hosts two of its three toughest games to end the season: vs. Montana, vs. UC Davis and at Eastern Washington. Those final three games present big challenges, but it's a stretch of games where the Vikings can really show their growth.
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COUNTDOWN: The Best Player in FCS Who Wears Each Number, 1-99
TOP RETURNEE: Sr./TE Charlie Taumoepeau (HERO Sports Preseason All-American, 28 rec. for 580 yards and 5 TDs)
THE FOUNDATION: Jr./OL Korbin Sorensen (Third Team All-Conference); So./K Cody Williams (Third Team All-Conference); Sr./DT Kenton Bartlett (Third Team All-Conference, 21 tackles and 4.5 TFLs); Jr./DT Semise Kofe (All-Conference HM, 24 tackles and 3.5 TFLs); Jr./QB Davis Alexander (1,786 yards passing and 11 TDs, 424 yards rushing and 12 TDs)
TOP NEWCOMER: Fr./QB Jalen Chatman (Rutgers transfer, competing for the starting job)
THE QUOTE: "My staff did an incredible job of going and finding the fastest student-athletes we could. It was a need of ours to get faster everywhere on the field. I think we have done that with this group. We call it the'"Year of the Cheetah.' We have to get fast. The faster we get the better we will be." — head coach Bruce Barnum said
WERE WE RIGHT?: Last Year's PSU Preview
FCS 2020 NFL PROSPECTS: The List
BEST FCS TRADITIONS: The List
PREVIEWS: The Rest Of The Big Sky
Montana | Montana St | NAU | UNC
Portland St | Sac St | SUU | UC Davis | Weber St
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