Daniel Pinto Gunderson puts up his bracket for the FCS Playoffs and gives his five players to watch and his potential three games to watch for.
5 Players to Watch
1. Taylor Heinicke – Sophomore QB – Old Dominion University
335 Completions / 68.2 Completion % / 4,158 Yards Passing / 35 Touchdowns
Taylor Heinicke leads the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) in yards passing, yards passing per game (378), total yards (4,535), total yards per game (412) and points responsible for per game (24). He led the Monarchs to a 10-1 record overall and the number 4 seed in the playoffs. Look for him to put up big numbers throughout the playoffs
2. Marcus Williams – Junior CB – North Dakota State University
22 Tackles / 4 Pass Break Ups / 4 Interceptions / 1 Def. TD / 1 Kick Return TD
Marcus Williams leads the nation’s best pass defense in interceptions. Williams is a game changer in the return game, just ask Illinois State University, and is rarely thrown against because he is so dominate in pass defense. He only needs two more interceptions to set the school record and could be a nightmare for a possible second round match-up against pass happy Eastern Illinois University.
3. Gavin McCarney – Senior QB – Jordan McCord – Junior RB – Colgate University
McCarney – 1,309 Yards Rushing / 2,253 Yards Passing / 37 Combined TD
McCord – 1,627 Yards Rushing / 5.2 Yards Per Carry / 147.9 Yards Per Game / 22 TD
These two players for the Colgate Raiders are a package deal because of how much they mean to the offense. As a team, CU ran for 47 touchdowns this year while averaging 41.2 points per game. Tough enough to stop one player let alone two who can get it done. Look for these two to have a big game against Wagner first round.
4. Miguel Maysonet – Senior RB – Stony Brook University
1,721 Yards Rushing / 7.7 Yards Per Carry / 156.5 Yards Per Game / 19 Rushing TD
Miguel Maysonet’s yards per carry alone should make you do a double take. When you hear that his back-up, Marcus Coker, ran for 855 yards himself, it makes you wonder how any opponent stops the Seawolves running attack. In fact, Stony Brook is outscoring opponents 135-17 in the first quarter. Look for quick starts and a heavy dose of Maysonet for SBU during the playoffs.
5. Eric Breitenstein – Senior FB – Wofford University
1,653 Yards Rushing / 6.8 Yards Per Carry / 150.2 Yards Per Game / 16 TD
Eric Breitenstein is a beast for a run heavy Terriers team. He has only lost eight yards on the ground all year. At 5’11” and 230 pounds, he wears out interior lineman and linebackers as the game goes on. He ran for 321 yards against Elon University earlier this year and with a match-up against the University of New Hampshire in the second round, the potential is there for another big game. If so, he could be in Fargo come second weekend in December.
Top 3 Games
3. South Dakota State University at North Dakota State University – Second Round
What the Jackrabbits would give for another shot at the reigning FCS champions NDSU. Of course, what wouldn’t the Bison give for another shot to beat their rival? It is an interesting potential match-up in the fact that SDSU has been to the Fargodome and are no longer intimidated by it. You can’t say the same for Zach Zenner who was held to a season low 43 yards rushing against NDSU back on November 10. That game, a 20-17 win for the Bison, also featured what appeared to be a cheap shot from SDSU guard Alex Parker (65) on NDSU defensive lineman Leevon Perry. Perry was lost for the season with a knee injury as a result of that play. Another added storyline to a game that is already full of them.
2. Montana State University at Eastern Washington University – Semifinals
Go back to October 13 of this season and the MSU Bobcats have a home game against the EWU Eagles. The Bobcats go into the fourth quarter with a 17-13 lead, only to see the Eagles get back-to-back touchdowns on a blocked punt and a pick six. Otherwise, the Bobcats dominated the game, converting on 11 of 19 third downs and holding the ball for 38:26, including 12:24 of the fourth quarter. Now, the opportunity to make up for the only loss this season for the Bobcats is there and they can do so on the red turf. There is also the possibility of the winner of this game would take on NDSU, creating a rematch from the 2010 playoffs.
1. Old Dominion University at NDSU – Semifinals
The Monarchs of Old Dominion University went 10-1 this season and could have a potentially easy road to the semifinals. Their passing game is unbelievable, led by sophomore quarterback Taylor Heinicke. We saw what the NDSU defense did to pass-happy Lehigh last year, but Lehigh was out of the Patriot League. ODU hails from the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA), a conference with three schools in the FCS playoffs. The Bison haven’t been challenged with the type of passing game that ODU offers in the Missouri Valley Football Conference and it would create an interesting duel between Heinicke and the Bison secondary. If NDSU dominates, it might prove that the strength of FCS football lies in the MVFC. If ODU comes out on top, it justifies the claim that the CAA is still the premier league in the FCS.