Ball State is presently navigating a quarterback battle in Muncie. That's nothing compared to the new era of Colgate football. The Raiders will have a new face on the sidelines following the retirement of head coach Dick Biddle as well as a new quarterback taking snaps under center. The Colgate/Ball State game will be the first for new head coach Dan Hunt as well as the first start for quarterbacks on both teams. Simply put, it will be a historic day at Scheumann Stadium in Muncie. Historic. Better get prepared for it, and get prepared now.
Colgate Raiders 2013 Rewind:
The Colgate Raiders, led by Biddle in his 18th season, struggled out of the gate in 2013. The Raiders dropped their first four in a row, finally earning their first victory, October 5th at Cornell, 41-20. For the season Colgate finished middle of the pack in the Patriot League, wrapping up the year 4-8 overall and 3-2 in league play. The 3-2 mark was good for a three-way tie for second place.
Tell me if you've heard this one before. Starting in 1932, Colgate was known as the "Red Raiders." There are a number of theories as to the motivation of choosing this name, some citing Colgate's inability to beat the Cornell Big Red, others recounting a rainstorm that caused the colors on the Raider jerseys to turn. In any event Colgate adopted a Nativemascot in the 1970's, sparking some debate regarding racial insensitivity. In 2001 "Red" was dropped from "Raiders." By 2006 the mascot was abandoned altogether. Today's mascot does bear a passing resemblance to another soon to be former MAC school's symbol of patriotism and futility.
The Patriot League, Quick and Dirty:
Bucknell, Colgate, Fordham, Georgetown, Holy Cross, Lafayette, Lehigh.
Last Bowl Appearance:
Bowls? BOWLS?! Colgate doesn't need a bowl, man. The FCS figured out the tournament thing long before us dummies on the FBS level. The Raiders last took the Patriot League crown in 2012, ranked 24th in the country and going undefeated in conference play. Their tournament stay would be a short one. Colgate was knocked out of the first round by the Wagner Seahawks, 31-20.
The Red Raiders are led by first year head coach Dan Hunt. Hunt was a three year starter at tight end at Springfield College from 1988-91. After two seasons serving as an assistant for Springfield, he took another assistant's position under Biddle in 1995. In 2010 he was named associate head coach.
Five Key Players:
- Demetrius Russell, Junior, Running Back
- Mike Armiento, Senior, Defensive Back
- Ed Pavalko, Senior, Fullback
- Jordi Dalmau, Sophomore, Offensive Lineman
- Kris Kent, Senior, Linebacker
A season ago the Raiders had anything but a balanced offense. Colgate led the Patriot League in rushing, by a wide margin, carrying the ball for north of 191 yards a contest. 56 percent of of that rushing production came from running back Demetrius Russell, and quarterback Gavin McCarney. McCarney was lost to graduation and Russell will figure prominently into the Colgate offensive scheme, with a new quarterback under center.
McCarney was efficient enough throwing the ball in 2013 to keep defenses honest. He threw for 166 yards a game, with 10 TDs and 7 picks on the season. This season Colgate will look to Jake Melville, a 6-foot-1 190 pound sophomore who appeared in five games for the Raiders last season, throwing for 277 yards, 2 TDS, and 3 picks.
Melville will be without 2013's leading receiver Dan Cason, who graduated after last season, but will have a couple of returning weapons at his disposal. Colgate possesses depth at tight end, with Kevin O'Connell and John Quazza returning. Sophomore John Maddaluna will provide the deep threat for the Raiders.
Colgate was near the bottom of the Patriot League in defense a season ago, yielding more than 32 points a game. The final four games of the year, the Raiders were outscored 139-68. That said, there were some bright spots on the Colgate D that will return in 2014.
Chiefly, Mike Armiento. The 5-foot-11 175 pound senior was named first team All-Patriot League last season, At defensive back Armiento picked off six passes in twelve games last year, returning one 85 yards for a touchdown. Armiento was also second in Patriot League play with 14 passes defended. Joining Armiento on the defensive side of the ball will be linebacker Kris Kent. Kent was named All-Patriot League second team last year. The senior was 7th in the league in 2013, including 11 for a loss.
Perhaps the most interesting element of Colgate special teams from a season ago is the absence of a kicking game. Senior Andy Burgess hit one of his two field goal attempts on the season, and converted just 14 of 20 extra point attempts. Taking over the kicking duties will be sophomore Jonah Bowman. Last year Bowman converted his only field goal attempt, a 38 yarder. Yes, Colgate attempted three field goals last year.
The great thing about a way too early non-conference preview, is we don't even know who we will see on the field yet. Ball State is still navigating their quarterback situation, which looks narrowed down to Ozzie Mann and Jack Milas. Ball State could certainly have a tough time against a top tier FCS opponent. Last year the Cardinals got the best punch Illinois State had to offer, and they struggled defensively against the Redbirds high octane passing attack. That said Colgate finished just 4-8 last season, and will have a first time head coach on the sidelines. The Cardinals should have enough returning talent to handle the Raiders.