With nine starters on offense and four more on defense having graduated after last year’s run to the Football Championship Subdivision title game, Towson dropped to fifth in the Colonial Athletic Association’s preseason poll, which was released Wednesday at the conference’s Media Day at M&T Bank Stadium.
But opposing coaches said they have no intention of counting out a Tigers program that has compiled a 29-10 overall record and a 19-5 league mark in the last three seasons.
“Believe me, they’re going to be good,” said coach Sean McDonnell, whose New Hampshire squad was picked to finish first in the CAA. “They’re going to be able to run the football because Rob has done a good job of recruiting good football players. Everybody was talking about [running back Terrance] West, but think of the four linemen they lost from last year. Think of the tight end they lost. But they’ve got guys that are just as good. [Sophomore Darius] Victor, the other running back, he’s like a clone of West with the way he plays. We’re not playing them this year – thank God. Thank God that Terrence West is gone, but I still think Victor probably would rush for 150 or 200 against us with the way they run their offense. It’s a physical, hard-nosed, power offense and the tailback will make that thing go. I think their quarterback [junior Connor Frazier] will be good enough. I thought he was a good leader and did some great things. And I know he’s recruited some good offensive linemen because we’ve seen who he has recruited. Defensively, they’ve got good guys coming back with [senior cornerback] Tye Smith in the secondary, the defensive end [senior Ryan Delaire], the two linebackers. So believe me, they’re going to be good.”
Towson coach Rob Ambrose, who has the unenviable task of restocking the team, has a sympathetic ear in Maine coach Jack Cosgrove. The Black Bears captured the conference’s regular-season championship in 2013, but graduated 18 players.
“There is a similarity with the volume of guys that they’ve lost, especially true in regards to the offensive line,” Cosgrove said. “So you do see that similarity, but they have developed a culture of winning and that itself is very powerful. I’d like to say that we have that culture of winning, but not to the extent that they do.”
McDonnell said his analysis of the Tigers is based on his knowledge of Ambrose and his knack for using anything – including the preseason poll – as motivation.
“He’s got a system, he’s got kids and coaches that are buying in and doing it,” McDonnell said. “So he’ll feed off of this and get them going.”
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