Houston Baptist preview capsule

NCAA Football

(Stats Perform) – Southland Conference member Houston Baptist is one of 15 FCS programs (out of 127 overall) that has announced it 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: Houston

STADIUM: Dunham Field

HEAD COACH: Vic Shealy (15-52, six seasons; 42-66-1 overall)

2019 RECORD: 5-7, 2-6 Southland (10th)

2020 FALL SCHEDULE: at North Texas (Sept. 5), at Texas Tech (Sept. 12), at Louisiana Tech (Sept. 26)

PROJECTED RETURNING STARTERS: 15 (7 offense/8 defense)

3 KEY RETURNEES: QB Bailey Zappe, WR Ben Ratzlaff, LB Caleb Johnson

BIGGEST SHOES TO FILL: DE Andre Walker

OUTLOOK: Shealy already is the longest-tenured Southland coach, and he has the Huskies’ still-young program coming off its winningest season. They’re only facing FBS programs in the limited fall campaign, including Texas Tech as a first-ever Power-5 opponent. They have an explosive offense to meet the higher competition. Zappe was much-better protected last year than in his first two seasons while he led the conference in passing yards (3,811) and TD passes (35) and the FCS in attempts (560) and completions (357). There’s no shortage of weapons with WRs Ratzlaff and Jerreth Sterns, who combined to catch 192 passes and 21 TDs, and senior RB Dreshawn Minnieweather (723 yards, 7 TDs in only eight games). In the 4-2-5 base defense, LBs Brennan Young (11.3) and Johnson (10.4) ranked 1-2 in the Southland in tackles per game, while S Tra Fluellen was a third player in the 100-tackle club. Still, It will be difficult for the defense to replace Walker’s pass rushing. PK Gino Garcia connected three times from beyond 50 yards as part of his 18 field goals.

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