In 2012, Slippery Rock finished with a 6-5 record. Despite just being one game above .500, The Rock posted a 5-2 conference record and finished 4th in the PSAC West. This season, they’re losing their leading rusher, but are returning their dynamic dual-threat quarterback and their five leading receivers. Defensively, they’re bringing back their leading tacklers at linebacker and a strong ballhawking secondary. Together, they return nine starters on each side of the ball.
Here’s a preview of what to look for from The Rock in 2013.
PSAC WEST PRESEASON POLL RANKING: 3
QB – Nigel Barksdale – Barksdale is a dual-threat. He can pass and he can run, and he does both very well. He came in last season in a relief role and took over. He completed 95 of 168 passes for 1,415 yards and 14 touchdowns. He also ran for 507 yards and 7 scored on the ground. This camp he’ll be battling for the starting job with former starter Jared Buck. Even if he doesn’t win the starting job, he’s expected to see the field quite a bit as a playmaker.
WR – LaQuinn Stephens-Howling – Stephens-Howling received an Honorable Mention on the 25th Annual USA College Football Division II list coming into 2013. Last season he led the team in receptions and receiving touchdowns while finishing second in receiving yards. He hauled in 37 passes for 464 yards and 5 touchdowns. He and Ken Amos are both back for the receiving core and Stephens-Howling will be looking to contribute even more this season as a senior. He may also take some carries in the backfield as The Rock have lost their leading rusher from last season.
WR – Jaimire Dutrieuille – Dutrieuille was also named as an Honorable Mention for the 25th Annual USA College Football Division II list. While he’s listed as a wide receiver, he runs the ball some, too, and is The Rock’s main return man. Last season he rushed 28 times for 165 yards and 3 touchdowns. He also caught 28 passes for 325 yards and 2 touchdowns. In the return game he averaged 28.6 yards per kick return, including one 92 yard touchdown return. Look for the ball to find his hands one way or another.
LB – Quindell Dean – Dean was also named as an Honorable Mention for the 25th Annual USA College Football Division II list. He finished second overall on the team in total tackles with 79. He finished the 2012 season with 41 solo tackles, 7.0 tackles-for-loss and 4.0 sacks. His 7.0 tackles-for-loss were good enough for second on the team. He and Gary Allen will bolster this linebacking core this fall.
DB – Anthony Saunders – Saunders was named a Third Team selection for the 25th Annual USA College Football Division II list coming into 2013. He led the PSAC last season with 17 passes defended. He also led the team with 3 interceptions, two of which he returned all the way for a touchdown. He tallied 62 total tackles, 42 of which were solo, in 2012. His tackles, interceptions, and passes defended go up every season, so now as a senior, expect them to soar.
DB – Isaiah Coleman – Coleman is the second half of the ballhawking secondary who also picked off three passes last season. This year, he should be counted on more often. He racked up 34 total tackles in 2012 including a 12 tackle performance against Gannon. He also had 2 interceptions in that same game. Coleman has shown spots of greatness but will now need to prove he can be produce consistently on the field for The Rock.