By Jake Adams:
Head coach: Todd Ryan, 3rd season (6-14)
Division: Mid-Penn Capital
2019 season: 5-5 (2-5)
Postseason: did not qualify
Passing: Comp-Att, Yards, TD
Cooper Manley: 7-10, 50, 0
Rushing: Att-Yards, Avg, TD
Tyler Rossi: 40-250, 6.3, 3
Receiving: Rec-Yards, Avg, TD
Trey McAuliffe: 22-458, 20.8, 5
Tyler Rossi: 1-15, 15.0, 0
Key returners: Trey McAuliffe, sr., WR; Peyton Warner, sr., RB-LB; Tommy Cloak, sr., OL-DL; Tyler Rossi, jr., RB-LB; Ryan Dalton, jr., OL-DL; Jason Wewer, jr., RB-OLB.
Outlook: The Shamrocks took an important step forward last year after unleashing the complete arsenal of their fully operational spread offense. It was fun, it racked up yards and it scored plenty of points. Now, the task is to replace their quarterback, several talented receivers and running back, and continue the upward trajectory. But the hope is another year in the system will give the young guys stepping into starting roles more comfort and make the jump easier.
Consistency will also be key. Two years ago, the Shamrocks started winless, than ripped off a couple wins late to build momentum. In 2019, it was the opposite as they started hot and then lost four of the last five. It’s something Ryan recognizes, and the team, but a strong start to the offseason before the pandemic shuts things down gives the third-year coach hope the team maintains strong play all year.
1. A new arsenal to work with: Last year’s Shamrocks racked up a hearty 2,300 passing yards and nearly 1,500 rushing thanks to an RPO scheme that fully unleashed QB Danny Scott, RB Daniel Kosinski and receivers like D’Amonte Porter, Ryan Berrigan and Connor McCarthy. Points were no longer hard to come by. But all of those faces have graduated in the year of the pandemic, leaving head coach Todd Ryan to replace an explosive arsenal with new pieces. A cog from the 2019 group that’s back, though, is Trey McAuliffe, who caught 22 passes for 458 yards and and five scores. He missed time with injuries last year, but the ‘Rocks expect big things from him. Tyler Rossi, who is faster, but “not as shifty,” as Kosinski, Ryan said, is the likely lead back. And Jason Wewer and Max Schlager should see more time out wide. The QB race is down to sophomores Cooper Manley — who got a quick taste of the varsity life last year — and Landon Kuntzleman, Ryan said. “We’ve changed up my quarterback manual knowing that I had these two [and some incoming freshman] … to really slow down their learning curve,” Ryan said. “We really broke out the quarterback manual a lot better for them.”
2. Getting faster on defense: The coach said a major theme this offseason has been improving the defense. And primarily by getting faster. That doesn’t mean just physically, though — Ryan also had the defense focus on mental speed, working to improve player reaction times. “Defensively, we really focused our offseason this year on defense,” he said. “We really hit it strong in January through the shutdown, really working on the speed.” Trinity last year allowed more than 300 yards a game but was most vulnerable through the air, where it allowed 8 yards per pass attempt.
3. Deep in the trenches once again: Ryan, who has been with the program for more than five years, was pleased last year with the amount of big bodies on the roster. A program that hovers in the 30s and 40s had about 15 linemen to start or develop, a number he was happy with. That has carried over to 2020, where he figures to rotate 7-8 of his maulers all season, anchored by returning junior left tackle Ryan Dalton and senior Tommy Cloak. Not all of the linemen are varsity ready, but that also means they have a developmental pipeline to work with. “We had some new kids show up,” Ryan said. “Right now, we’re sitting three deep across the line.” A big boy to watch for is 6-foot-7, 250-pound Tommy Kelucha, who didn’t play football until he was a freshman. “You don’t miss him, that’s for sure,” the coach said.