11. Sacramento State

Forecast: 13th by Big Sky media, 11th by coaches

Preseason ranking: none

Last season: 2-9 overall, 1-7 Big Sky (tied 12th)

Starters returning: 19 (offense 8, defense 11)

Coach: Jody Sears (Washington State, '91), 9-14 in 3rd year at Sac St., 13-33 for career

Bottom Line

Sacramento State has among the most returning starting talent in the league, but that massive group needs to have improved over the offseason for the Hornets to climb out of the Big Sky basement. Sac was in shambles offensively last season, ranking last in points per game (19.6) and rushing offense (107.5) as well as second-to-last in total offense (360.2). Those numbers will likely improve, but by how much? Prediction: 11th.

Offense

In a situation Montana fans can appreciate, Sac State went through three starting QBs last season because of injuries. Sophomore Nate Ketteringham appears to be the one who stuck after throwing for 1,400 yards and 11 TDs in just six games as a freshman. The Hornets have three O-linemen back who started all 11 games to help protect Ketteringham from another injury-plagued year.

Defense

Eleven Hornets are back who saw at least five starts in 2015, though that doesn't include LB Darnell Sankey, a graduate who led the Big Sky with 153 tackles. Anthony Payne is the veteran now, a senior CB with 30 starts to his name.

Notable: Sac State was among the Big Sky's worst in takeaways in 2015 with just 13, but ranked third in turnover margin. The Hornets were second-best in limiting giveaways with 13.

Quotable: "We've got a ton of young kids that played last year, got thrown right under the bus. Hopefully they've scarred and callused these last eight months and they're ready to take another step forward." — Coach Jody Sears