This is the second 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.
Lafayette’s struggles last year were mainly on defense. They gave up 165 yards per game on the ground, and ranked fifth in the league in scoring defense. Only four starters return this year, three of them on the line. Senior defensive tackle Rick Lyster anchors that group and he will need to step it up even more this year with an overall inexperienced group on defense. The second team all Patriot Leaguer had three sacks last year, and six tackles for a loss. In my book, a tackle for a loss is just as good as a sack.
On offense is where the Leopards shine, and senior quarterback Andrew Shoop is right in the middle. Shoop is the top returning passer in the Patriot League, having started nine games last year. He needs to lower his interception total (11 in 2011) but he is certainly the brightest part of this offense. Behind him in the backfield is the 2011 Patriot League Rookie of the year Ross Scheuerman, who only had 104 carries last year after a series of injuries and other instances kept some of the older guys off the field.
Click below for interviews with Lafayette Head Coach Frank Tavani, and quarterback Andrew Shoop.