Fulton, Mo. - Although Westminster College returns seven starters on offense and seven starters on defense, the Blue Jays, who finished 5-5 overall and sixth in the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference (UMAC) at 3-4 last year, face a variety of questions entering the 2011 season.
The offense finished in the upper half of the league in most categories, but consistency is the key. Senior all-conference first teamer Carl Givens and junior James Gladstone are two of the best receivers in the UMAC. Givens caught 54 passes and scored 13 touchdowns, while leading the league and finishing 30th nationally with a 99.5 yards a game average. Gladstone caught 29 passes and scored three times for a passing offense which was 71st nationally. The question is if sophomore Scott Rodgers can improve at quarterback and Westminster can run the ball better to control the clock and improve time of possession.
Westminster led the UMAC in rushing defense, total defense, scoring defense and tackles for loss. All-UMAC first teamer Rodney Lyles returns for his junior campaign, after leading the Blue Jays with 3.5 sacks a year ago. Joining Lyles on the defensive front is all-conference second team junior Tashan Fultz, who led the league in tackles for loss. Another key returnee is all-league second team senior defensive back Kelvin Williams, who led the league and finished 20th nationally in interceptions a game, snaring six in 10 games.
Kicking is a big question. Westminster was eighth in the league in punting and two-time all-conference kicker Jake Hilton graduated with four school records, including careers records for extra points (94) and field goals (15).