Thursday, April 5, 2012
Albany, N.Y. - Spring practice for the University at Albany football program began on Saturday March 31 and the team will be having their first intra-squad scrimmage this Saturday. The scrimmage is scheduled from 10:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. on University Field. The Great Danes, who are allowed 15 practices, are slated to play the annual Spring Game at University Field on Saturday, April 28 at 3:00 p.m., to conclude the spring season. UAlbany established a program record with its 6th consecutive winning season in 2011.
The Great Danes, who have won five Northeast Conference championships since 2002, recorded a non-league win over Columbia during a 8-4 campaign that took the Great Danes in to their first ever FCS Playoff appearance. Head coach Bob Ford, the active Division I FCS & FBS leader with 255 career victories, has 47 letterwinners returning, including 13 starters on both offense and defense. "In spring football is when you establish who your team is going to be" explains Ford, who is entering his 40th varsity season, "the saying goes; 'you drive your stake in to the ground to establish your identity.' I think we have a decent nucleus on both sides of the football coming back. Our major challenges will be solidifying an offensive line with two definite spots open and deciding on who will be our starting quarterback."
The Great Danes will have to replace their starting quarterback, Dan DiLella, who led the Great Danes to their first-ever FCS Playoff appearance with a single season school record of 2,548 yards passing. Returning on offense are top tailbacks Andrew Smith and Dillon Romain and leading receiver Ryan Kirchner. "We have a very good stable of running backs, two good tight ends and an excellent core of receivers" says Coach Ford about the offense. Kirchner registered the fourth-best single-season total in school history with 56 receptions for 615 yards and ten touchdowns. He also averaged 7.8 yards per punt return. The offensive side of the ball will have eight starters and 22 letterman returning for the 2012 campaign.
The defense had an All-Northeast Conference player at every position last year with exception of outside linebacker, where Kyle Jordan earned Northeast Conference Rookie of the Year honors. The defense will have to replace two All-Conference defensive linemen in Zach Gallo and Eddie Delaney. Delaney, a recipient of the Maxwell Football Club's Thomas Brookshier Spirit Award, led the Great Dane defense with 54 tackles and recorded a team-best 11.5 hits for a loss. He also established the program's FCS single-season record with 8.5 sacks. "On the defensive side it appears that we're four-over-two at almost every position with the exception of the defensive line which is a little thin," said Ford. "Our linebacker core will probably be the heart and soul of our defensive unit." Jon Morgan, a senior inside linebacker, led the team in tackles with 106 on his way to earning First-Team All-Northeast Conference Honors. The defense will have to replace six starters this spring and will have 24 letterman returning.
On special teams, Paul Layton, an All-Northeast Conference Punter, who finished the 2011 season ranked 9th at the FCS level, returns and will look to improve on his 2011 average of 42.6 yards per punt attempt. SPRING FOOTBALL SCHEDULE Mon 4/9 3pm Wed 4/11 3pm Fri 4/13 3pm Sat 4/14 10am (Intra-Squad Scrimmage) Mon 4/16 3pm Wed 4/18 3pm Fri 4/20 3pm Sat 4/21 10am (Intra-Squad Scrimmage) Mon 4/23 3pm Wed 4/25 3pm Fri 4/27 3pm (Rain Date if Needed) Sat 4/28 3pm (Annual Purple & Gold Game)
Posted by BRE at 2:37 PM