Football season is upon us again and the first game of the year beckons. Week one begins with a the Monmouth University (MU) Hawks, an independent conference FCS opponent from West Long Branch, N.J. Thursday, August 29 at 7:05 p.m.
The Hawks are coming off a 5-5 season in 2012, led by 20-year head coach, Kevin Callahan. Monmouth is looking to make a name for themselves before heading into the Big South Conference in 2014 as a football-only member.
Prior to becoming independent, the school competed in the Northeast Conference, which consists of New England-area schools including Towson, Robert Morris and Sacred Heart universities. Their first game is against a ready Montana State team, eager to put the back-to-back playoff losses to Sam Houston State behind them and take the Big Sky Conference for a fourth straight year.
The Bobcats — led by senior quarterback Denarius McGhee — have been plagued by off-season injuries to standout members like linebackers Na’a Moeakiola and Aleksei Grosulak. After graduating key players including All-American defensive tackle, Zach Minter, as well as powerful defensive end, Caleb Schreibeis, MSU is looking to regain the solid defense that led to their Big Sky Conference domination in the 2012 season.
Monmouth University set a record for attendance in their August 1993 football with 6,233 fans. With Monmouth averaging an attendance of around 3,000 people, the Hawks will have to overcome and adapt to Montana State’s deafening stadium, one of the loudest stadiums in the FCS.
Shutting down MU’s passing game is important, as well as stopping fourth-down conversions. In the 2012 season, the Hawks attempted 19 fourth-down conversions and came up with a first down on 13 of them. They are not afraid to take a risk.
Being versatile to opponents both in the air and on the ground has won so many games for the Cats, and Monmouth will be no exception. I predict an outcome of 42-3 in favor of the Bobcats.
Students tickets were sold out by Tuesday, August 27 in the afternoon.