Towson at a glance

Morgan State & Towson

September 03, 2004|By GARY LAMBRECHT

Towson at a glance

Coach: Gordy Combs (13th season)

Last year: 6-6 (3-4 Patriot)

Conference: Division I-AA Atlantic 10

Radio: WTMD (89.7 FM)

Stadium: Johnny Unitas (11,198)

Offense: Multiple pro

Defense: 4-2-5

Top returning players: SS P.D. Moore, FS Bryan Fitzpatrick, DT Mike Collier, FL Will Marcus, SE James Byroads, G Joe Ripple, PK-P Stephan Toth, QB Anthony Melzi

Top newcomers: LB Brian Bradford, CB Eric Clark, QB Andrew Goldbeck, NG T.J. Foley, TE Ryan Collins

Strengths: The secondary is led by the team's co-captains, Moore and Fitzpatrick, who were Patriot League stars and had eight of the team's league-high 21 interceptions. Moore also is outstanding against the run. Collier is a strong and mobile defensive anchor inside. On offense, Byroads and Marcus are the big-play threats. They combined for 61 receptions and four touchdowns and each averaged more than 13 yards a catch.

Weaknesses: This is the Tigers' first year in the Atlantic 10, and they have 30 scholarship freshman players, with 33 more scholarships to come to reach the Division I-AA limit. That puts Towson at a decided disadvantage as it moves into a solid, established league. The Tigers will he hard-pressed not to finish at or near the bottom of the South Division.

Strongest opponent: Towson gets a tough introduction to its new league with its conference opener at Delaware on Sept. 11. The Blue Hens, 15-1 a year ago, are defending national champions and are ranked No. 1 by the The Sports Network and USA Today/SportsTicker heading into 2004. They return 16 starters.

Key game: The home opener Sept. 25 against Northeastern, which finished in third place in the A-10 last year with a 6-3 record, begins a stretch in which the Tigers play five of six contests at home. One way or another, the Northeastern game could set a tone.

- Gary Lambrecht

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