By Matt Leon
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The Delaware Blue Hens, of the Colonial Athletic Association, are coming off a 7-4 season which saw them just miss the FCS (Football Championship Subdivision – or the entity formerly known as 1-AA) playoffs.
With thirteen starters back, Delaware head coach K.C. Keeler is hopeful his squad will have what it takes to return to their familiar spot in the postseason.
“I like the kids, I like the effort they’ve given us,” Keeler tells KYW Newsradio. “I’m a little disappointed, I think that we are a pretty talented team but I don’t think we’ve improved as much as I think we can improve. So the good news is I think we have a lot of upside, the bad news is I’ve been disappointed we haven’t gotten there yet. That’s been my challenge with the kids. I try to explain to them, it’s not okay to be ‘okay’ at Delaware. When you come here it’s about winning championships. It’s about having great teams and we need to keep on pushing through.”
Listen to Matt Leon’s interview with K.C. Keeler:
The prognosticators like what they see in Delaware as they are ranked in several FCS preseason polls.
On offense, Keeler says the 2012 Blue Hens should have very good depth under center.
“We’ve got three guys that can play at this level of football, and typically it’s tough enough to have one. Now, what you need is to have one great one, and we’re hoping one of those guys steps up and right now we’ve decided to go with (sophomore) Trent Hurley as our starter and we’re hoping he makes the move to be a great one. But the good news is if there is an injury or whatever, (senior) Timmy Donnelly did a nice job last year and (junior) Trevor (Sasek)’s coming off an injury, but obviously played for us as a red-shirt freshman.”
As for the rest of the offense, Keeler says the offensive line is a bit of a work in progress, but the skill positions should be fun to watch in 2012.
“I think we’ve got a very good group of wide receivers. We probably, one through four, have as good a group of wide receivers as there is in the league. I think our tight ends are pretty solid too, I like our group of tight ends. Obviously, (junior) Andrew Pierce is one of the best running backs in the country so I feel good with he and (senior) David Hayes back there.”
Pierce had a phenomenal season in 2011, rushing for 1,279 yards and 16 touchdowns. He was also second on the team in receiving with 42 catches.
As for that Blue Hen defense, overall Keeler thinks they should be pretty good.
“The whole secondary’s back, I like our defensive line. I think there are some pretty talented kids up front there,” Keeler says. “The one area I’m really disappointed in is the linebacker spot because we thought we were going to have one of the better linebacking corps in the country led by (senior) Paul Worrilow – and then we lost two players to season ending injuries. So losing two out of your top three, and then losing a back-up, we’ve kind of gotten thin at that linebacker spot. So that’s a concern.”
The Blue Hen defense allowed 20 points a game last season.
Delaware will open the season on Thursday night as they host Division II West Chester.
You can follow Matt on Twitter @mattleonkyw.