The University of Northern Colorado football team was ranked 13th/last by both the coaches and media preseason ranking polls. Despite many having low expectations for the Bears, UNC plans on making a big impact this upcoming season.

With the departure of quarterback Sean Rubalcaba, the Bears have a very uphill battle to face this upcoming year.

It will either be up to senior Jonathan Newsom or sophomore Jacob Knipp to become the main play caller this upcoming season. It will more than likely be Newsom, who threw for 1,271 yards, 13 touchdowns and had a 53.3% passing percentage in his sophomore campaign at Orange Coast College. As a junior at UNC, Newsom saw action in four games in 2014, including a win against Northern Arizona. In those four games he completed 58 percent of his passes for a 123.7 QBR.

The Bears will also have to rely on junior running back Darius Graham. Graham, who was ranked by the Billings Gazette as the 93rd best player in the Big Sky Conference, will be expected to carry a workhorse number of carries. He will be sharing running back duties with Trae Riek, Brandon Cartagena and Anthony Davis, but Graham will be the primary carrier.

UNC will also be trying to bounce back from a rough year running the football. The Bears were dead last in the Big Sky conference in both rush yards per attempt (3.1) and total rushing touchdowns on the year (9).

But head coach Earnest Collins Jr. who played for UNC in the early 90’s is extremely optimistic about the upcoming year.

Collins has high expectations for this year’s team for two reasons. First, because the program is mostly returning talent and the second because they have a favorable schedule.

Marcus Flowers, a Mile High Sports intern and Claflin University student, contributed to this report