• Coach: Jack Hatem, second season (4-6 record at school)

• Last season: 4-6, 2-4 (tie, sixth, North Coast Athletic Conference)

Talent pool

There will be no need to break in many players at the skill positions with senior quarterback Max Paulus, junior tailback Sam Fioroni and senior receivers Lucas Graham, Andy Carpenter and Braden Layer of Upper Arlington returning. Senior center Joe Romanowski leads an offensive line that returns two other starters. Defensively, senior Jerome Ray and juniors Nat Kell of Upper Arlington, Lane Hartfield of Newark Catholic and Adam Murray make up the starting line. Junior Alex Sycher of New Albany occupies one of the safety positions. Fioroni, Romanowski and Kell were honorable mention All-OAC.

Exclamation points

Paulus threw for 1,916 yards, the most by a Denison quarterback since 2005, and had 13 touchdown passes. Fioroni ran for 547 yards and seven touchdowns, but 200 came in one game, Sept. 18 against Hiram. Graham (38 catches), Carpenter (34) and Layer (30) should be able to spread the field once again. Punter Matt Ring of Watterson landed nine of his 31 punts inside the 20. Sycher had 68 tackles, including four for loss, and two forced fumbles. Seventeen returning starters and 55 lettermen are on the roster.

Question marks

Although three offensive linemen return, the group gave up 34 sacks last season. The defense yielded 22 touchdown passes and almost 3,500 yards and allowed an average of 26.0 points per game.

Outlook

The Big Red has been predicted to finish fifth in the conference, which would be a pretty good second step in Hatem's rebuilding process. Nothing will come easy, though. Denison found that out in 2010, when it won its first three games but only one in the final seven.