Abilene Christian preview capsule

NCAA Football

(Stats Perform) – Southland Conference member Abilene Christian is one of 15 FCS programs (out of 127 overall) that have announced they will play at least one nonconference game this fall. Due to coronavirus concerns, the Southland postponed its conference schedule until a potential spring season.

LOCATION: Abilene, Texas

STADIUM: Wildcat Stadium

HEAD COACH: Adam Dorrel (13-21, three seasons; 89-20 overall)

2019 RECORD: 5-7, 4-5 Southland (Tie/6th)

2020 FALL SCHEDULE: at UTEP (Sept. 19), at Army West Point (Oct. 3), West Texas A&M (Oct. 17), Stephen F. Austin in Arlington, Texas (Oct. 24), at Mercer (Oct. 31), Angelo State (Nov. 7), Arizona Christian (Nov. 14), at Virginia (Nov. 21)

PROJECTED RETURNING STARTERS: 9 (6 offense/3 defense)

3 KEY RETURNEES: RB Billy McCrary, OL Kade Parmelly, DE Kameron Hill

BIGGEST SHOES TO FILL: LB Jeremiah Chambers

OUTLOOK: Even with three FBS games, Abilene Christian should challenge for .500 or better in an eight-game season. The Wildcats would sacrifice the Southland spring games if they play their full fall schedule, which includes a “nonconference” game with Stephen F. Austin at Globe Life Park. There are two big concerns for Dorrel’s fourth season: settling the quarterback position, where Iowa transfer Peyton Mansell or running-style signal caller Sema’J Davis will try to replace Luke Anthony, and rebuilding the defense, which returns only three regular starters. The offense also lost RB Tracy James, who led the Southland with 20 touchdowns, but McCrary is a big-play back who returns from a medical redshirt. He has help up front with Parmelly and Nico Russolillo, while TE Brandon Hohenstein (27 receptions), who made the All-Southland preseason first team, and WR Kobe Clark (Abilene Christian single-season record 87 receptions) will keep opposing defenses honest. Hill (eight sacks) and LB Jack Gibbens (104 tackles) key the rebuilding defense. Wins over two-time reigning conference champ Nicholls the last two seasons suggest the Wildcats’ potential, but they’re still seeking consistency in Dorrel’s fourth season.

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