Mary Football enters 2014 at number 18 in our rankings. Check out our Top 25 Season Preview for more on the top college teams to watch this fall. Can’t find your team in the Top 25? View our full rankings to see where every team stands.
Last Season: 6-5 (6-5) Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference
Like the other five Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference teams in our top 25 that aren’t BR1 Minnesota State-Mankato, BR2 Minnesota-Duluth, or BR3 St. Cloud State, the University of Mary Marauders missed playoffs last season. It’s just a brutally tough conference. All sixteen teams in the conference, top to bottom, are ranked within our top 60 D2 teams. The Marauders played against five of our preseason top 25 teams last year, and went 1-4 in those contests – their only win a 17-10 nail-biter over Sioux Falls.
Offense was the strength of the team last season, led by senior quarterback Craig Bagnell. He passed for the second most yards per game in the NSIC last season – 276.9, and earned an All-NSIC North honorable mention at season’s end for his work.
-Craig Bagnell QB – Honorable mention All-NSIC North, 254/428 (59.35%), 2,769 yards, 23 TDs, 8 INTs, 82 carries, 202 yards, 1 TD
-Jeremy Mayfield WR – 36 catches, 321 yards, 3 TDs, 21 KR, 423 yards, 20.14-yard average
-John Oyloe DL – First team All-NSIC North, 54 tackles, 10 TFL, 8.5 sacks
-Scott Maldonado DB – Honorable mention All-NSIC North, 64 tackles, 2.5 TFL, .5 sacks, 3 INTs, 1 blocked kick
-Craig Jeffery DB – Second team All-NSIC North, 26 tackles, 2.5 TFL, .5 sacks, 1 INT, 7 pass breakups
-Tyler Ryan K/P – First team All-NSIC North Kicker, second team All-NSIC North punter, 9/15 FGs (60%), long of 39, 69 punts, 40.13-yard average, 54 kickoffs, 59.7-yard average
What to Watch For
Offensive Reset – Craig Bagnall is gone. His loss doesn’t help the team, but since he’s really the only key contributor from last season who won’t be back this year, the offense should improve. Senior Zach Roberson improved from his sophomore year in his limited snaps in relief of Bagnall last season, but the sample-size was too small to really make a determination on him. He’ll get more of a chance to show what he’s got this year. Losing a pair of offensive linemen won’t help, but throwing to two first team All-NSIC North wide receivers will. Nick Jolliffe and Elby Pope were great last season, and will be this season.
If you read our previews for BR9 Sioux Falls, BR10 Southwest Minnesota State, and BR15 Upper Iowa, you might feel like these are getting a little repetitive. The U of Mary will be good this season, not as good as the top teams in the NSIC, but this season could see them move up the NSIC food-chain. Eleven Marauders were named to the All-Conference team in 2013, and six of them will be back, including four of their six first-teamers.
Minnesota-Duluth and St. Cloud State are formidable, and controlled the NSIC North last season while U of Mary finished third with a 6-5 record. If the Marauders are serious about taking steps forward this year, their first game is maybe the most important of the season: Southwest Minnesota State at home. Their final two games of the season will be on the road in Duluth and St. Cloud, so the Marauders have to be undefeated or darn close if they want to challenge for the NSIC North title. A realistically lofty expectation should be for them to win the opening game against SW Minnesota St. and split the Minnesota-Duluth and St. Cloud State games. That would be a hugely positive result for the program and one fans should hope for.