University of Delaware Football Picked No. 6 in Preseason CAA Poll; Boyle, Enderson Earn Spots on All-CAA Team
BALTIMORE -- The University of Delaware football squad found itself in the middle of the pack when the Colonial Athletic Association announced its preseason coaches poll Wednesday as part of the annual CAA Media Day festivities at M&T Bank Stadium.
But Delaware head coach Dave Brock, who begins his second year at the helm of the Blue Hens this fall, is confident his team has what it takes to prove that those predictions are off the mark.
The Blue Hens were picked No. 6 in the preseason poll that included the votes of head coaches and sports information directors from each of the 12 CAA schools. New Hampshire was the preseason favorite with 15 first place votes and was followed by Villanova (2), Richmond (3), William and Mary (3), Towson, Delaware, Maine, James Madison (1), Stony Brook, Albany, Rhode Island, and league newcomer Elon.
“We are excited to start the season,” said Brock, who led his team to a record of 7-5 during his first year at the helm in 2013 as just a few plays kept the Hens from making an NCAA Tournament appearance. “We have the key ingredients for winning games. We have a veteran quarterback (third-year starter Trent Hurley) and explosive playmakers on offense and we have a punter (Eric Enderson) who is a weapon and can change field position and help our defense. The key to our success will be to improve our defense. We have a lot of returning players and we need to work together to play great team defense. As we rebuild the program, we need to strive to be a competitive playoff team in 2014.”
In addition to the team rankings, the CAA also announced the preseason all-conference team with the Blue Hens placing senior tight end Nick Boyle (top left) and Enderson (below right), a sophomore, on the team. Boyle, a second team All-CAA pick in 2013, caught 42 passes for 474 yards and seven touchdowns a year ago while Enderson, who earned second team All-CAA and freshman All-American notice, set a school record and ranked No. 3 in the nation in punting with a 45.0 yard average per kick.
Hurley, who will become the first Blue Hen to start at quarterback for three straight years since All-American Matt Nagy in 1998-2000, threw for 2,207 yards and 22 touchdowns and led the CAA with a 155.2 passer rating as a junior in 2013. His top target, senior wide receiver Michael Johnson, is one of the nation’s most dynamic and explosive players. The second team All-CAA pick caught 60 passes for 1,035 yards and nine touchdowns in 2013 and averaged an incredible 17.6 yards every time he touched the ball whether by rush, reception, or kick return.
Delaware will return 13 starters, including six each on offense and defense, but will also welcome back former starters in defensive end Laith Wallschleger and safety Jake Giusti who each missed most of last season with injuries. While Delaware ranked among the CAA leaders in offense, averaging 32.8 points (No. 2 in the CAA), 177.0 rushing yards (No. 4), and 240.0 passing yards per game (No. 3), the Blue Hens struggled defensively, allowing 31.6 points (No. 9) and 443.6 total yards (No. 10) per game.
“Our improvement on defense will be a big factor in our success this season,” said Delaware senior linebacker Patrick Callaway, who earned second team All-CAA honors a year ago when he ranked second in the CAA with 10.0 tackles per game and 120 overall. “No matter what the level, defense wins championships. We are a year better and a year more experienced and we’ll practice hard to get better.”
The Blue Hens will report to camp on Sunday, Aug. 3 with practice set to begin on Monday, Aug. 4. The season opener is set for Saturday, Aug. 30 at Atlantic Coast Conference foe Pittsburgh with a seven-game home slate scheduled to begin Sept. 6 against in-state opponent Delaware State at Delaware Stadium. Homes games are also on tap against Colgate (Sept. 13), Sacred Heart (Oct. 4), Elon (Oct. 11), Towson (Oct. 18), Rhode Island (Nov. 1), and Villanova (Nov. 22).
Great season ticket packages are currently available and single game tickets will go on sale Aug. 1. Call 302-831-2257 or go online to www.bluehens.com for more information.
CAA Football is coming off a 2013 season in which two teams – New Hampshire and Towson – reached the NCAA Division I Football Championship semifinals, with the Tigers becoming the 10th team in conference history to reach the national title game. Delaware made trips to the finals in 2003, 2007, and 2010 and won the national title in 2003.
“Top to bottom, the CAA is the best league in the country,” said Brock, whose team went 4-4 in league play to finish in fifth place a year ago. “We talk to our team about being the best team in the best conference. Every week is a challenge and every week is a playoff atmosphere in this league.”
2014 CAA FOOTBALL PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH (first-place votes):
1. New Hampshire (15)
2. Villanova (2)
3. Richmond (3)
4. William and Mary (3)
8. James Madison (1)
9. Stony Brook
11. Rhode Island
2014 CAA FOOTBALL PRESEASON ALL-CONFERENCE TEAM
OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: QB John Robertson (Villanova)
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: DL Mike Reilly (William and Mary)
OFFENSE: QB - John Robertson (Villanova); RB - Omar Osbourne (Albany); Nico Steriti (UNH); FB - Emmanuel Holder (Towson); WR - Stephen Barnette (Richmond), R.J. Harris (New Hampshire), Tre McBride (Wm. & Mary); TE - NICK BOYLE (DELAWARE); OL - Austin Gund (Richmond), Ross Hall (Villanova), Bruce Johnson (Maine), Andrew Jones (William and Mary), Vince Kowalski (Villanova)
DEFENSE: DL - Trevor Bates (Maine), Ryan Delaire (Towson), Evan Kelly (Richmond), Mike Reilly (William and Mary); LB - Andrew Bose (Rhode Island), Airek Green (William and Mary), Christophe Mulumba Tshimanga (Maine); Luke Rhodes (William and Mary); S - Christian Carpenter (Towson), Dean Marlowe (JMU); CB - DeAndre Houston-Carson (William and Mary), Tye Smith (Towson).
SPECIALISTS: P - ERIC ENDERSON (DELAWARE); K - Sean Decloux (Maine); RS - Tre McBride (William and Mary)