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 … VMI.
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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VMI (1-10 IN 2018)
The SoCon (VMI was 9th in 2018)
COACH: Scott Wachenheim – At School: 5th year (6-38 record) Overall: Same
LAST FCS POSTSEASON: None
2018 OFFENSE: 23.4 ppg. (93rd in FCS)
2018 DEFENSE: 48.2 ppg. (124th in FCS)
KEY GAME: Oct. 12 vs. Samford – Hey VMI … here's your game to prove you belong in the SoCon discussion this fall, and let's face it … you proved you could belong a couple of times last year in close games against some of the league's better teams. Samford will be rebuilding a bit this year, but the Bulldogs will be hungry for a win in this one. Can VMI make this competitive and change the dreaded narrative? Up to you, Keydets.
SUM IT UP: So, VMI was 1-10 last year. Seems par for the course, right? VMI has always been on the bottom, right SoCon? Except for the fact that its freshman quarterback threw for 3,000 yards with 20 TDs and only 4 INTs and also, this program hit SoCon play and scared the living daylights out of playoff team ETSU (3 point game), offensive juggernaut Western Carolina (2 point shootout), The Citadel (2 point game) and Chattanooga (7 point game). The Keydets were young … and they were very nearly a major factor in the SoCon. Did they get blown out as much as they scared SoCon teams? Yes, a few times. How do things look going forward? We'll discuss below.
Look — VMI has won 19 games in the past decade. When I was a kid growing up in Greenville, S.C.? We paid close attention to SoCon football because Furman and Wofford were nearby and in our newspaper every week. VMI was struggling back then, too. The program hasn't had a winning season since 1981, with the bright spots being back-to-back 6-6 seasons in 2002 and 2003. But could something happen this year? Well, read the above narrative … four SoCon teams were within a touchdown of falling to a young VMI team last year. Quarterback Reece Udinski and his three starting receivers all return along with four of his linemen. And look, defensively this program did give up a lot of points last year, but seasoned groups always have the potential to improve and eight starters return.
VMI hasn't been a SoCon title factor in a long time, but we think this group may have an effect on the topsy-turvy, parity-filled SoCon this fall. When a team has an effective QB, that's always a great starting point. VMI has an effective QB, trust us. We think there's something special happening here.
OUR TAKE: To kick things off, VMI should be able to handle Mars Hill and probably Robert Morris in nonconference play, though FBS games at Marshall and the best Army team in decades are probably a tall order. But we think VMI is going to ruin some SoCon team's season this year. Look for three or four wins here, and then … hey SoCon elite, if you don't pay attention to VMI in 2020? You're going to lose a game you think you were supposed to win, easily. Most of this team is back next year, too … and it could post its first winning season in nearly four decades. Hey, Austin Peay snapped out of it downtrodden ways two years ago … why couldn't VMI?
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COUNTDOWN: The Best Player in FCS Who Wears Each Number, 1-99
TOP RETURNEE: Jr./DB A.J. Smith (2nd Team All SoCon – 90 tackles, 2 TFLs)
THE FOUNDATION: Jr./QB Reece Udinski (3,082 yards passing, 20 TDs, 4 INTs); Soph./LB Ethan Caselberry (81 tackles, 5.5 TFLs); Soph./OL Marshall Gill (returning starter); Soph./TE Jakob Herres (27 catches, 437 yards, 5 TDs); Sr./WR Javeon Lara (53 catches, 825 yards, 7 TDs); Jr./LB Elliott Brewster (80 tackles, 5.5 TFLs); Sr./DB Kaleb Tucker (32 tackles, 9 PDs); Jr./LB Tyren Cloyd (41 tackles, 2.5 TFLs); Sr./DL Jarod Richmond (39 tackles, 4 TFLs); Sr./WR Rohan Martin (252 yards receiving, 16 yards per punt return).
TOP NEWCOMER: Fr./WR Max Brimigion (High school numbers: 2,642 yards receiving, 33 TDs, 8 blocked kicks, 13 INTs on defense – all-around playmaker)
THE QUOTE: "I was really impressed with the way the offense ran the ball. It’s the best we’ve run the ball in a long time. Alex Ramsey had his pads down and it was good to see Tyain Smith back out here and the offensive line coming off the ball. Defensively, I really liked the way we got turnovers and the way we kept playing. We have some good experience on the defensive line and Coach Kuntz is doing a good job coaching them up and we’re going to try to be proactive on defense and we want to dictate the pace and get after them and make it hard for the offense to block." — coach Scott Wachenheim said after spring scrimmage
WERE WE RIGHT?: Last Year's VMI Preview
FCS 2020 NFL PROSPECTS: The List
BEST FCS TRADITIONS: The List
PREVIEWS: The Rest Of The SoCon
Chattanooga | ETSU | Furman
Mercer | Samford | The Citadel
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