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Soccer preseason pocket book: Blue Hens enter opener with new-look protection, choices at QB

Managing Sports activities Editor

Delaware received its 2022 soccer season opener at Navy, its first sport beneath Head Coach Ryan Carty, on the again of a stifling protection suffering from skilled tacklers.

After the Blue Hens pulled out the 14-7 win in Annapolis, MD, their offense obtained on top of things with Carty’s unfold system, however the protection remained the spine of the workforce, ending the season third in whole protection and second in cross protection within the Soccer Championship Subdivision (FCS).

Delaware misplaced lots of the veteran gamers who made its protection dependable a season in the past, together with linebacker Johnny Buchanan and security Kedrick Whitehead Jr., to expiration of eligibility or to bypass of additional eligibility. Carty and Defensive Coordinator Manny Rojas have graduate defensive finish Chase McGowan as one of many few regulars returning. 

With the parade of recent faces in line for better taking part in time on ‘D,’ it’s the place we start The Overview’s 2023 overview of Delaware soccer.

The Protection

For all of the roster turnover that Delaware has skilled on this facet of the ball, it’s nonetheless the place group of three of the Blue Hens’ 4 captains: McGowan, senior defensive lineman Ethan Saunders and senior linebacker Dillon Coach. Management will not be missing on this unit. It’s an unproven one, although, particularly within the secondary.

In Rojas’ base scheme of three down linemen, the Blue Hens are recognized to play a excessive quantity of defensive backs behind three or 4 linebackers. With Whitehead within the NFL on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Noah Plack now a grad switch at UConn, Delaware expects steps ahead at security from junior Ty Davis and senior Nic Ware. Freshman security KT Seay pushed for time with the starters in preseason camp and will see motion early, interspersed with fellow security Alex Villas, a senior in his second season at Delaware after transferring from Stetson College.

As for the linebackers, Coach, West Chester College grad switch Jackson Taylor and graduate Mateo Vandamia determine to be referred to as upon as starters. Taylor was a three-year starter for the Golden Rams, making waves in Division II together with his 262 profession tackles, together with 39 for loss with 11 sacks.

Freshman linebacker Gavin Moul is an element within the Hens’ two-deep as nicely. Offering depth with a extra skilled background is Stonehill Faculty senior switch Marje Mulumba, a 2022 All-Northeast Convention Second Group linebacker.

Maybe the defensive place by which Delaware acquired the best positive aspects by switch is cornerback. With Justis Henley’s school soccer profession accomplished and Amonte’ Strothers a switch departure to Buffalo, the Blue Hens remade their CB room through the additions of grad switch Tyron Herring (Dartmouth Faculty) and sophomore switch A’Khoury Lyde (Wisconsin). Herring and Lyde seem primed to begin at two nook spots, although Lyde’s youth might make him a frequent rotational participant. Moreover, Delaware introduced in one other Ivy Leaguer at nook in Harvard College grad switch Khalil Dawsey, who earned Honorable Point out All-Ivy final 12 months.

To not be missed at CB amid the brand new beginning hopefuls is graduate Jared Duncan, the Wilmington native who initially transferred to the Blue Hens from Morgan State College. Duncan, in his fourth season with the Hens in 2022, appeared in 9 video games with two tackles. He might nicely see elevated sport motion this fall together with his hard-hitting nature and information of the protection.

Projected to function Delaware’s beginning defensive linemen are finish McGowan, junior Previous Dominion sort out switch Keyshawn Hunter, and senior finish Jack Corridor. Hunter gives Soccer Bowl Subdivision-pedigree dimension (6’0’’, 277 kilos) and a penchant for physicality in the midst of the D-line.

The Offense

To start 2023, Carty will name performs for Delaware as soon as once more. The quarterback carrying them out can be completely different, as Nolan Henderson started his skilled profession with a stint with the Baltimore Ravens this summer time.

Junior QB Ryan O’Connor is the incumbent arrange for taking part in time who has taken first-team reps in periods accessible to media. O’Connor performed in 4 video games in 2022, mopping up wins versus Morgan State, Monmouth College and first-round playoff foe Saint Francis College. His most in depth obligation got here within the second spherical at South Dakota State College (SDSU), the place Delaware’s postseason ended with Henderson injured. O’Connor was 10-of-21 passing for 104 yards at SDSU with no touchdowns or interceptions.

O’Connor competed with senior Iowa Central Neighborhood Faculty switch Zach Marker by way of fall camp for the job of starter. In his press convention one week earlier than the Blue Hens’ season opener at Stony Brook College on Aug. 31, Carty didn’t identify a beginning QB, suggesting as a substitute each O’Connor and Marker may play in Week 1.

“I feel the advantage of these two children is that they’re not too completely different,” Carty mentioned. “I’ve been in these conditions the place you virtually needed to have two sport plans if two quarterbacks have been within the sport. That’s not going to be the case. They’re each very comparable athletes, comparable arm energy and comparable expertise stage.” 

Carty has all indicators pointing to O’Connor and Marker sharing time to open the marketing campaign. The 2 will break up reps throughout Stony Brook sport week, Carty mentioned.

“It’s not like a rhythm can’t be struck in a sport no matter who’s in there taking part in Q.”

O’Connor and Marker have a gifted trifecta of operating backs with Delaware expertise in senior Marcus Yarns and graduates Kyron Cumby and Quincy Watson. It’s anticipated that the three will platoon once more in 2023.

At large receiver, Thyrick Pitts is one other Hen off to the NFL with the New England Patriots. Key graduate returnees embrace slot receiver Jourdan Townsend and wideout Chandler Harvin. They’ll begin, however in Carty’s pass-heavy offense, there’s ample room for others, equivalent to grad transfers Joshua Youngblood (Rutgers) and Kym Wimberly (Harvard).

Delaware brings again continuity on its offensive line. Senior Brock Gingrich is a captain at heart and is flanked by Bradly Anyanwu, Patrick Shupp, Fintan Brose and Blaise Sparks. Not one of the above is youthful than a senior.

The Blue Hens’ freshman OL, Anwar O’neal and Anthony Caccese, labored into alternatives with the second line in camp.

Particular Groups

Placekicking was a weak point for Delaware in 2022, however it was addressed by the workers within the offseason. Competitors was afoot between transfers getting into camp, as Nate Reed (East Stroudsburg College) and Alex Schmoke (Saint Francis grad) vied to deliver reduction. Each seem able to instantly contributing.

The Hens are sure-footed at punter with Monmouth grad switch Ryan Kost within the fold. Kost, like Schmoke, performed inside Delaware Stadium in opposition to the house workforce final season and now takes his 2022 First Group All-CAA boot to Newark. Moreover, Kost is the beginning holder for Delaware on placekicks by Schmoke or Reed.

Delaware’s sport at Stony Brook kicks off at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 31. 91.3 FM WVUD’s reside protection from Lengthy Island begins at 6:45 p.m.

Daniel Steenkamer/THE REVIEW