Nebraska football looks to notch the first win of the season in its home opener on Saturday, facing Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) opponent Fordham for the first time in school history.
The Fordham Rams went 2-1 in its previous season of competition, which took place in spring 2021 after the Patriot League made the decision to reschedule all fall sports seasons to spring.
The Rams have played FBS opponents before, but haven’t emerged victorious since a 2015 win against Army. On the other hand, Nebraska has never lost to an FCS team.
Nebraska will be a heavy favorite Saturday, but Fordham still has several talented players looking to put on a show in Lincoln.
Tim DeMorat, QB:
Senior quarterback Tim DeMorat had the best season of his Fordham career during the spring 2021 season. DeMorat completed an FCS high 72.1% of his passes for 1,049 yards and five touchdowns. The senior’s performance in the three-game season was enough to earn him Patriot League Offensive Player of the Year honors.
DeMorat put up large numbers in all three of the Rams’ games. His best game came during a loss to conference foe Holy Cross, where he put up a career high 440 passing yards and two touchdowns.
DeMorat is a gifted passer, but he is not much of a threat running the football, only averaging 1.2 yards per carry in spring 2021. Getting pressure on DeMorat will be key in preventing him from putting up numbers against the Husker defense. However, the quarterback did break out a 58-yard run in 2019 and ran for two touchdowns in 2021, so his abilities on the ground should not be completely discounted.
In his last performance against an FBS team, DeMorat passed for 221 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions against Ball State in 2019. Fordham head coach Joe Conlin stressed his quarterback’s improvement in the offseason, hoping for a better performance against the next level in 2021.
Ryan Greenhagen, LB:
DeMorat was not the only Ram to earn an All-Conference award in 2021, as senior linebacker Ryan Greenhagen was named Patriot League Defensive Player of the Year.
Greenhagen’s impressive, award-winning season came in spite of him only playing in two games. He led the league in total tackles per game with 11, a number significantly boosted by a Patriot League high 16 tackles in Fordham’s win over Bucknell in the spring. He added two tackles for loss and one sack en route to earning league honors.
Greenhagen looks to turn around a Fordham defense that has struggled in recent years. Since 2018, the Rams offense has scored 20 or more points in 15 games, yet the team is a subpar 7-8 in those games.
Zach Davis, RB:
Fordham threw the ball a lot in 2021, averaging 43 passing attempts per game compared to 32.6 rushes. A big reason for that offensive mindset was the loss of senior Zach Davis to injury.
Davis was the ninth running back in program history to rush for over 1,000 yards in a season in 2019, tallying 1,013 yards and seven touchdowns with a long run of 76. His seven touchdowns led the Patriot League, leading to his selection to the All-Patriot League first team in 2019.
Davis will join senior Trey Sneed in the backfield again in 2021. The halfback tandem combined for 13 touchdowns in 2019, and helped balance out the Rams’ offense. Sneed had a solid season as the featured back in spring 2021, rushing for 175 yards and three touchdowns.
Sneed was named First Team All-Patriot League, giving the Rams two backs with first team all-conference honors
Fotis Kokosioulis, WR:
The senior wide receiver has been a favorite target of DeMorat’s the past two seasons, a partnership resulting in two consecutive First Team All-Patriot League honors. Kokosioulis led the Rams receiving corps in spring 2021, catching 20 passes for 278 yards and one touchdown. His 92.7 receiving yards per game was at the top in the conference.
Kokosioulis is also a gifted kick returner, averaging 21.7 yards per return in 2019, good enough for second in the Patriot League. His receiving and returning prowess ranked him 21st in all-purpose yards per game in the FBS for 2019.
Kokosioulis is one of many experienced wide receivers for DeMorat. Joining him is junior Dequece Carter, who also was named First Team All-Patriot league after tallying 274 yards and two touchdowns in 2020.
Rounding out the receiving corps is senior Hamze El-Zayat, who only had 90 yards receiving in 2020, but led the team in 2019 with 62 receptions.