2017 Kennesaw State Football Preview

Kennesaw State is one of the youngest football programs in the country, but that hasn’t stopped the team from finding success.

The Owls have only played two seasons of FCS football but finished 6-5 in their first year and 8-3 in 2016. Brian Bohannon’s squad just missed out on the postseason last year, but the team is already proving to be a solid addition to the Big South.

2016 Kennesaw State Football Season In Review

Bohannon and Co. beat all of the inferior teams on the schedule last year. However, the squad wasn’t able to defeat any of the better teams on the docket.

The Owls lit up the scoreboard in their wins, scoring an average of 47.9 points in their eight victories in 2016. Conversely, the Owls put up a scant 15 points on average in their three losses. That is a massive disparity.

Bohannon cut his teeth under Paul Johnson at Georgia Southern, Navy and Georgia Tech, so it’s no surprise that he oversees a quality triple-option offense.

The running game was extremely successful for Kennesaw State last year. The Owls averaged 5.9 yards per carry and 320.6 yards per game on the ground as well as 41 touchdowns. They didn’t play a lot of quality defenses, but they were very impressive against the mediocre teams on their schedule.

Unlike many of Johnson’s teams, this team could throw the ball a little bit, too. Chandler Burks was a solid decision maker for the Owls and didn’t just settle for check downs like many option quarterbacks do. He averaged over nine yards per pass attempt and completed over 50 percent of his throws.

Kennesaw State only allowed 21.7 points per game last year, but the Owls weren’t facing a lot of good offenses. They faced two opponents that were below the FCS level, and those two squads scored a combined three points. The defense wasn’t bad, but the numbers were skewed.

2017 Kennesaw State Football Season Preview

Burks is back to lead the offense this fall. He loses his most explosive option at running back in Chaston Bennett, but the Owls received a huge addition this offseason in East Carolina transfer Shawn Furlow. Furlow was heavily recruited by ACC schools out of college and should be able to see immediate action at this level.

The Owls also welcome back their two top receiving options from last season. Just Sumpter caught eight touchdowns, while Xavier Harper averaged 23.5 yards per reception. These two could have an even bigger impact this season, particularly Sumpter, who missed three games in 2016.

The key is keeping Burks healthy. He will likely lead the team in both rushing and passing again in 2017, but at 5-foot-10 and 190 pounds, health is an issue in an option offense.

Defensively, the Owls should take some big strides. Nine of the team’s top ten tacklers from last season all return, and they also added defensive back Dorian Walker from Georgia Tech. That’s one of the benefits of being a new program: everybody on the roster comes of age together and almost everyone starting for this defense is now an upperclassman.

2017 Kennesaw State Football Schedule

August 31: Kennesaw State at Samford
September 9: Kennesaw State vs. Tennessee Tech
September 16: Kennesaw State at Alabama State
September 30: Kennesaw State vs. North Greenville
October 7: Kennesaw State vs. Texas Southern
October 14: Kennesaw State at Liberty
October 21: Kennesaw State vs. Gardner-Webb
October 28: Kennesaw State at Presbyterian
November 4: Kennesaw State at Montana State
November 11: Kennesaw State vs. Charleston Southern
November 18: Kennesaw State vs. Monmouth

FCS Pick ‘Em Games To Watch

The Owls still have a few patsies on their schedule, but they are at least playing better competition than they were last season.

The game to circle on this schedule is the penultimate one. When the Owls host Charleston Southern on Veteran’s Day, it will likely be for the Big South title. Kennesaw State gets to host this season’s edition, but the game is in a tough spot. The Owls will lose a day of preparation traveling back from Montana State the week before and that will hurt. For that reason, fade the Owls in your FCS Pick ‘Em Contests in that game.

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