The Brady(less) Bunch: 2017 Tufts Football Preview

2016 Record: 7-1

Projected Record: 9-0

Projected Offensive Starters: (*Six Returning)

QB: Ryan McDonald  ’19*

RB: Dominic Borelli ’19*

WR: Mike Miller ’18*

WR: Jack Dolan ’19

WR: Dan De Leon ’19

TE: Jack Donahue ’20

LT: Liam Thau ’18*

LG: Josh Thibeault ’19*

C: Nick Roy ’19

RG: Gian Calise ’18*

RT: Tim Reitzenstein ’19

Projected Defensive Starters: (*Nine Returning)

DE: Zach Thomas ’18*

DT: Doug Harrison ’18*

DT: Tom Baker ’20

DE: Micah Adickes ’18*

LB: Steve DiCienzo ’18*

LB: Greg Holt ’20*

LB: Caden Bevilacqua ’19/Tylor Scales ’20

CB: Tim Preston ’19*

SS: Brett Phillips ’18*

FS: JP Garcia ’18*

CB: Alex LaPiana ’19*

Projected Specialists:

K: Andrew Pettit ’20/ Matt Alswanger ’21

P: Alex Lapiana ’19/ Dan De Leon ’19

KR/PR: Jack Dolan ’19/ Tim Preston ’19

Summary:

School is back in session, and each morning as I enter the local Dunkin’ Donuts, I hear chatter about whether or not 2017 is the year Tufts Football brings home the NESCAC Championship. One local remarks, “Ah they no longah have that Brady kehd, they’ve got no chance.”, another one says, “Jim enough of ya complainin’, I haven’t seen a defense like this since the ’85 Bears”. I leave that Dunkin’ Donuts and think, You know what, they might be lacking 2 time NESCAC Player of the Year, Chance Brady, but like the New England Patriots, Tufts Football goes by the motto, “Next Man Up”. After all, Tufts Athletics have proven themselves as the top dog in the NESCAC in recent history and 2017 Tufts Football will only solidify that.

A year ago, Tufts Defense was 4th in the NESCAC in points allowed per game at 18.9. With nine returning starters, expect that number to drop. There are few holes in this defense with big guys Doug Harrison ’18 and Micah Adickes ’18 up front holding up the running game. Steve DiCienzo ’18 and reigning NESCAC leading tackler and Rookie of the Year, Greg Holt ’20 provide athleticism and power at the LB positions. Arguably the strongest part of their defense is their secondary. Any coach would be a fool to even consider throwing near Tim Preston ’19, who led the NESCAC with 5 picks as a sophomore. Preston was recently seen selling Preston Island T-shirts outside the dining hall. Returning back from injury is the hardest hitting safety in the league, Brett Phillips ’18 who is complemented by JP Garcia ’18. Finally another returner Alex LaPiana ’19 is the other CB. Expect big things from the defense.

Tufts Offense is a whole other story. Like I stated above, there is tons of doubt following Chance Brady’s departure. Tufts replaces Brady with Dominic Borelli ’19, who has 73 carries and 2 scores in his first two seasons with the Jumbos. Ryan McDonald ’19 will be the quarterback again for the Jumbos as he is an ideal dual threat QB, finding the end zone 5 times on the ground and 5 in the air last season.

Chance Brady was one of the most potent offensive forces in recent NESCAC memory. Tufts will be hard pressed to replace him this season.

Mike Miller ‘18 leads their wide out core. Miller is a deep ball threat any time he is lined out wide, as he has speed and the ability to go up and grab the football. If the Jumbos are able to put up anything close to the offensive numbers they did last season, (31.5 PPG) they are a strong favorite to win the NESCAC in 2017.

Special teams will be a lot different for Tufts in 2017. They lose, now Duke University and 1st Team Kicker/Punter Willie Holmquist. Behind Brady, Holmquist was 2nd on the team in scoring in 2016, showing the value he added to their 7-1 season.

Defensive MVP: D-Line

The Tufts D-Line returns three returners in Thomas ’18, Harrison ’18, and Adickes ’18. These men are the spark to the deep Tufts defense, all having All-Conference accolades in the past two seasons. Harrison is their go to big body in the middle, Addickes can be a hybrid of a pass rusher/run stopper, and Thomas is known for his effectiveness off the edge in passing situations. Expect these three to be big contributors to the already stacked defense.

Offensive MVP: O-Line

Yes, I know our award winning writers love singling out players for these awards, but the Tufts O-line is a major reason they have had success in recent years. Thibeault ’19 leads this group after missing pretty much all of last year after the 1st play of their night opener against Wesleyan. Tufts has a relatively inexperienced offense, putting more pressure on the O-Line to pave the way for the rest of the offense.

Biggest Game: September 23 @ Wesleyan

Everyone was probably thinking it would be Trinity or Amherst, both at Home, but Week 2 @ Wesleyan will set the tone for the rest of the season. In 2016, Tufts came back to beat Wesleyan in the 4th quarter in the first ever night game at Tufts. This destroyed Wesleyan’s NESCAC Title hopes as they eventually made a push at the title, but 1 can be detrimental in an eight/nine game schedule. Expect this game to have even more intensity than last season as both teams knows very well this could be make or break in their push to the NESCAC Championship.

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