Somerset, N.J. - According to a preseason poll of Northeast Conference head football coaches, the University at Albany has been chosen to finish fourth in the 2011 standings. Central Connecticut State was selected to capture the NEC championship with five first-place votes. Duquesne had two first-place votes and was picked second, while defending champion Robert Morris took third in the poll. The results were announced during Wednesday's NEC media teleconference (Aug. 3).
"If you can't run the ball and can't stop the run, you will not be playing in December," offers head coach Bob Ford, the active NCAA Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) leader with 247 career victories. "We have an opportunity to make a run at the title. This will be a better football team."
The Great Danes, who have won or shared four NEC championships since 2002, have 14 starters, including seven on offense and seven on defense, returning. UAlbany finished with a 6-5 record last season to establish a program record with its fifth consecutive winning campaign.
The Northeast Conference champion will receive an automatic berth in the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision playoffs. In 2010, the FCS playoff field was expanded from 16 to 20 teams. This season's national championship with be played in Frisco, Texas on Jan. 7, 2012.
In addition, UAlbany's Eddie Delaney, Ryan Kirchner and Paul Layton were voted to the NEC preseason all-conference squad. Delaney, a 6-foot-6, 245-pound defensive end from Holtsville, N.Y., was named to the all-conference second team for the second time in his career as a junior. He totaled 41 tackles, including 4.5 hits for a loss last year. Kirchner, a junior wide receiver from Rumson, N.J., had 50 receptions, the fifth-best mark in program annals, for 504 yard and one touchdown. He also averaged 10.4 yards per punt return. Layton, a sophomore punter from Burnt Hills, N.Y., averaged 40.1 yards per attempt last fall and ranked 31st among the FCS national leaders. He had 12 punts of 50 yards or longer.
2011 Northeast Conference Football Preseason Coaches Poll
1. Central Connecticut State (5), 2. Duquesne (2), 3. Robert Morris (1), 4. Albany. 5. Bryant (1), 6. Monmouth, 7. Wagner, 8. Sacred Heart, 9. Saint Francis, Pa. ( ) - first-place votes.
Paw Prints: UAlbany's Herb Glass is one of 15 Division I FCS placekickers who have been nominated for the Fred Mitchell Award ... the Mitchell Award honors those kickers who have combined excellence on the field with community service ... Glass, a senior from Miller Place, N.Y., is among the school's all-time scorers with 164 points and is second in career field goals (26) ... UAlbany opponents Colgate, Central Connecticut State and Robert Morris are receiving votes in the College Sporting News 2011 Preseason Top 25 ... the FCS national championship game will be televised by ESPN2 on Jan. 7, 2010 at 1:00 p.m.