2019 NCAA Division I College Football Team Previews: Valparaiso Crusaders

Valparaiso Crusaders
Location: Valparaiso, IN
Coach: Landon Fox (0-0 1st Year at Valpo)
Stadium: Brown Stadium (Capacity: 5,000)

CSJ Projections:
9th: Pioneer League
7th: Indiana
116th: FCS
246th: Division I

2018 In A Sentence: The Crusaders regressed to a 2-9 overall mark (2-6 PFL) after posting a 6-5 mark in 2017 and also lost its head coach Dave Cecchini in the offseason, who left to be the head man at Bucknell of the Patriot League.

Biggest Shoes to Fill: LB Drew Snouffer racked up 106 tackles last year, his third straight season of 100 tackles or more. He became just the second Valpo player in the last 25 years to enjoy three straight seasons with 100 tackles or more. He also led the PFL with 11.8 tackles per game, a mark that ranked sixth nationally in Division I FCS.

Key Player: Valpo may have regressed in the win column but it was not for a lack of talent on special teams. RS/WR Bailey Gessinger was recognized as an all-PFL second team for the third straight season. Gessinger enters his senior season with four career kickoff returns for touchdowns, one shy of tying a PFL record. Two of those returns came last season, allowing Gessinger to equal his own program watermark for kickoff return TDs in a single season with two. He also added another score receiving and 215 yards catching the ball.

Fearless Prediction: Former Coach Cecchini left rather late in the offseason–moving in late February and the Crusaders looked within a PFL rival in Dayton’s 11-year defensive coordinator Landon Fox. Under Fox’s wing, Dayton boasted the second-best scoring defense in the PFL in 2018. The Crusaders will need this kind of improvement (Valpo gave up 35.6 points/game last year) to better its two-win total but will have to do it with half of its starters (5 offense, 6 defense) lost from last year’s team. Expect a similar season as last year with 2-3 victories.