A pair of FCS games kick off college football's 150th anniversary season
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By CRAIG HALEY
(STATS) - Samford coach Chris Hatcher was talking about his team, but he basically summed up the three others who will be in action Saturday when the FCS raises the curtain on college football's 150th anniversary season:
"I hope we have a little chip on our shoulder," Hatcher said about the new season.
Division I's abbreviated schedule in Week Zero begins with Villanova visiting Colgate at noon ET (CBS Sports Network) followed by Samford and Youngstown State meeting in the sixth annual FCS Kickoff in Montgomery, Alabama, at 3 p.m. (ESPN).
Two FBS games - Miami (Fla.) versus Florida and Arizona at Hawaii - follow at night.
The FCS gets the early spotlight and the matchups are about teams with something to prove this season. Only Colgate is coming off a satisfying season out of the four, and this year, the defending Patriot League champion has to answer the loss of 25 seniors, including 10 who earned all-league honors. The Raiders' returnees include the league's preseason offensive player of the year (quarterback Grant Breneman) and defensive player of the year (defensive end Nick Wheeler).
"When you're coming off a successful season, it's a fine line," said coach Dan Hunt, whose team went 10-2, finished No. 8 in the STATS FCS Top 25 and led the subdivision in defense. "How much do you rely on and remind them of what they have achieved versus how much do you remind them that we really haven't done anything yet? You want to keep them motivated, but you also want to keep them confident."
Colgate returns only eight starters, but that's only two fewer than Villanova, which has gone 5-6 in both of coach Mark Ferrante's first two seasons. The CAA Football squad has interesting candidates at quarterback in decorated Campbell transfer Daniel Smith and returnees Jack Schetelich and 6-foot-6 Qadir Ismail, son of former NFL player Qadry Ismail. The Wildcats' defense boasts cornerbacks Jaquan Amos and Christian Benford.
While Villanova is 4-1 all-time against Colgate and 32-4 when facing Patriot League opponents, Youngstown State has yet to lose to Samford through four meetings. Coach Bo Pelini's Missouri Valley Football Conference program is a mere 10-11 since finishing as the 2016 FCS runner-up. Samford ended strong under coach Chris Hatcher last season yet still finished just 6-5 while quarterback Devlin Hodges earned the 2018 STATS FCS Walter Payton Award as a senior.
Youngstown State's strength is on defense with a unit that gets back two starters, defensive end Justus Reed and free safety Kyle Hegedus, after they missed last season with injuries. Their Southern Conference opponent will try to spread the Penguins out with their passing game, which features wide receiver Chris Snelling.
Updated August 23, 2019