Nationally Recognized Defense Leads the Bison
This is the first of seven articles that preview the 2012 Patriot League teams. They are in the inverse order of the preseason poll voting by Patriot League football head coaches and sports information directors, who did not include their own school in the selections.
Fordham was not included in the poll because it will not be able to compete for the Patriot League championship and NCAA automatic bid in 2012, and its games against League members will not count towards the final standings for either team.
The Bison certainly improved its offense from 2010 to 2011, increasing their yards per game total by 23, and scoring 50 percent more points. The most sure thing is the quarterback, Brandon Wesley. Wesley has started 21 consecutive games, probably his most impressive mark. He completed 52 percent of his passes in 2011, and scored 6 of his 13 touchdowns on the ground. Tyler Smith leads the ground game, and is also a very good threat to catch the football; he was second on the squad in receptions. Another element of this offense I like is the two tight end formations. That starts with senior end Nick Gatto, and continues with sophomores Patrick Kelly and Josh Lebo.
As much talent as there is on offense, the Bucknell defense was second in the nation in forced turnovers, and tops in the nation in turnover margin in 2011. Head coach Joe Susan debuted a 4-2-5 offensive scheme last year and will continue using that this season. The defensive line loses two All-Patriot Leaguers in Robert De La Rosa and Josh Eden, but they can’t be worried. 10 returning members of the defense will be taking reps on the line in 2012. Coach Susan and his staff decided it would be best to put the most athletic players on the team on the defensive line. In fact, two former linebackers, Sean Sellers and Dylan McDonnell will start the year on the line.
Click below for interviews with Bucknell's Head Coach Joe Susan, and starting quarterback Brandon Wesley.