2009 overall record: 9-4
2009 conference record: 5-1 (T 1st/MAC East)
Offense: 9, defense: 7, punter/kicker: 1/1
RB Bernard Pierce, DB Jaiquawn Jarrett, LB Elijah “Peanut” Joseph
LB Alex Joseph, TE Steve Maneri, DB Dominique Harris, NT Andre Neblett, OL Devin Tyler (all in NFL now)
2009 statistical leaders (* denotes returners)
Rushing: *Bernard Pierce (1,361 yards / 16 TDs)
Passing: Vaughn Charlton (1,390 yards / 10 TDs)
Receiving: *Joe Jones (387 yards / 1 TD)
Tackles: Alex Joseph (49-31-80 tackles / 5.5 TFL)
Sacks: *Adrian Robinson (13 sacks)
Interceptions: *Marquise Liverpool (3 int.)
1. Quarterback competition settled: One of the biggest questions heading into spring was about the starting quarterback. Both Vaughn Charlton and Chester Stewart played a year ago and the competition was heated through the early portion spring. However, as Stewart started to take the edge, Charlton decided to switch to tight end. Charlton is now the team’s top tight end and coach Al Golden expects him to have a big year.
2. Building O-line depth: The starting offensive line was a little nicked up this spring, which allowed several younger linemen to get quality reps and experience. That will definitely pay off, especially if any of the injuries become nagging.
3. Leading the linebackers: Defensive coordinator Mark D’Onofrio took over as the linebackers coach this spring and the change in that position group was almost immediate. Elijah Joseph is the only returning linebacker with quality starting experience, but the Owls have quality players in Tahir Whitehead, Marcus Green, and Jordan Martin.
1. Can Pierce stay healthy? Running back Bernard Pierce had a breakout season a year ago and was largely the reason why the Owls went on a nine-game winning streak. However, he suffered a shoulder late in the season and wasn’t healthy for the rest of the year. Pierce could easily have another 1,000-yard season if he stays healthy.
2. Backup QBs making a push: Chester Stewart is the starting quarterback, but the Owls haven’t used just one quarterback the entire time Golden has been the coach. Chris Coyer and Mike Gerardi both had good springs and they’ll both be competing for reps in the fall.
3. Fixing special teams: The Owls were good on kick and punt returns, but the challenge for new special team coach Sean Desai is getting the punting up with the rest of the conference. The Owls averaged 32.55 yards per punt with Jeff Wathne, but sophomore Brandon McManus has a chance to earn the starting role and make that average better.