What to expect from the 2022 Towson Tigers

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Aug. 5—After a 4-7 season in 2021, expectations for the 2022 Towson Tigers are up for interpretation. The Tigers, led by Fort Hill grads Luke Hamilton and Blake White, enter this season with more questions than answers.

Hamilton was recently named a preseason All-CAA (Colonial Athletic Association) after being named second-team All-CAA last year as a fullback. Entering his fourth season, Hamilton is expected to be one of the top fullbacks in the conference. White is a true freshman linebacker who was the Area Player of the Year last season.

I covered Towson football for three seasons as a student reporter. A lot has changed with this team, so I wanted to give my thoughts on this year's squad.

It all starts with the quarterback, and this year is no exception. Tyrrell Pigrome transfered from Ole Miss in July; the former Terrapin will join his fourth college team. As a dual-threat quarterback, he should fit in with the offense.

The Tigers are run-first and try to be the more physical team. They had the most success when the quarterback wasn't a traditional pocket passer and could evade sacks, make plays outside the pocket and take off downfield.

I believe Pigrome can do this at a high level. In 2020 with Western Kentucky, he rushed 105 times for 337 yards and four touchdowns. Comparing him to Tom Flacco, who was one of the top quarterbacks in the country in his two years at Towson, the numbers are similar.

In 2019, Flacco had 110 rushes for 324 yards and two scores. When the quarterback is able to make plays on his own, the Tigers are at their best.

Towson has lost several key players in the backfield the last few years, most notably Shane Simpson and Yeedee Thaenrat, who were both All-CAA selections. The void has been left for someone such as Devin Matthews to fill.

As a power back used in short yardage and goal line plays last year, he ran 84 times for 271 yards and eight scores. I expect him to have a bigger role in the offense this season; he showed some flashes last year and I hope to see him build off it.

The receivers are led by Jabari Allen and Darian Street. Neither caught 30 passes last year and both finished under 340 yards. I attribute it to a combination of inconsistent quarterback play and the fact that Towson went almost two years between games to open the year. The Tigers opted out of the 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so their first game vs Morgan State in 2021 was their first in 93 weeks. I expect both receivers to improve statistically.

Up front, the offensive line has a lot of new pieces. Twelve of the 17 on the roster are underclassmen. Of the underclassmen, seven are true freshman. The lack of experience concerns me, especially in as physical of a conference as the CAA is.

On defense, the defensive line has a few veterans in Bryce Lauer and Vinnie Shaeffer. Shaeffer tied for the team lead with four sacks while Lauer had 1.5 sacks and a forced fumble in a rotational role. They've been solid so hopefully they can stay consistent.

The linebackers are another area of concern: only one linebacker was a regular starter last year in Ryan Kearney. Everyone else is either a new transfer or had a limited role last year.

Same goes for the secondary as several key pieces have departed. Once again, experience is lacking as only five of the 12 on the roster are upperclassmen.

The defense midway through last year was one of the best in the CAA. They took a step back the last three games, which left room for concern. I don't feel very confident in the defense heading into the season, there's a lot that's unknown and unproven.

Special teams is another area I have question marks. Keegan Vaughn was our primary kicker last year but the coaches didn't trust him in field goal situations. There were several instances in field goal range where they went for it on fourth down. He only went 4-for-8 last year on field goals, but only missed one extra point. If you can't trust your kicker to make a field goal, something needs to change.

With Shane McDonough departing, punter is another question mark. There are three other players besides Vaughn listed as a punter. Two of them are listed as kicker/punter, so it's hard to tell who will be the starter. The only one with significant college experience is Clayton Harris. At UConn he played two years; however, it was as a kicker. It's going to be hard to replace McDonough; hopefully someone can step up.

Looking at the schedule, I feel confident in winning three games. I believe they can beat Bucknell, Morgan State and Hampton. I think they have little to no chance of beating West Virginia in Morgantown, West Virginia. The rest of the CAA schedule is their best chance at picking up some wins. There is incredible parity in the CAA — you cannot underestimate anyone in this conference.

Given the amount of uncertainty surrounding this team, I don't feel very confident in their chances at a playoff berth. I think five wins is reasonable, anything less would be disappointing. I don't think Towson is one of the worst teams, but they're certainly not one of the best either.

Jordan Kendall is a Sports Writer for the Cumberland Times-News. Follow him on Twitter @JKendallCTN.