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Tartans Selected to Finish Third in 2022 PAC Football Preseason Poll

Tartans Selected to Finish Third in 2022 PAC Football Preseason Poll

(LATROBE, Pa.) – The Presidents' Athletic Conference (PAC) held its annual football media day on Wednesday, August 3, where the Carnegie Mellon University football team was selected to finish third in the 2022 PAC preseason poll with 336 points while collecting 10 first-place votes. Media day was held at the Sis and Herman Dupré Science Center on the campus of Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, Pennsylvania.

Westminster College garnered 19 first-place votes and a total of 366 points to headline this year's preseason poll. Washington and Jefferson College was second with seven first-place votes and 346 points, followed by the Cardinal and Gray. Grove City was selected fourth with 278 points with Case Western Reserve University receiving 268 points and picked fifth.

Joining Tartan first-year head coach Ryan Larsen at media day was senior defensive lineman Ben Coyne (McDonald, Pa./South Fayette), as the two participated in a question-and-answer session with the other 10 PAC schools.

Larsen commented on the success of the 2021 season and how he is taking over a program that went 8-2 overall while winning the PAC Championship with an 8-1 league record. The Cardinal and Gray are riding a seven-game winning streak, currently the third longest in Division III, entering the 2022 campaign. He touched on what the team must do to keep the success going.

"The foundation is there and is strong. Our job as coaches and players is to find those small ways to get better. You are constantly changing," said Larsen. "If we keep putting the work in our offseason programming the success will be there."

Coyne was a first team All-PAC honoree at defensive end a year ago. The senior led the Tartans with 6.5 sacks, which ranked fifth in the PAC. Coyne played a huge part in the Tartans' defense last season that led the PAC in scoring defense and ranked second in the nation allowing 8.7 points per game while also leading the league in total defense giving up 246.7 yards per contest, forced a league best 31 turnovers and led the PAC with 35 sacks.

The senior spoke about the returning group of players, seven starters on defense, and how he anticipates the team carrying that momentum over into this season. Coyne also touched on the level of focus and attitude the team has heading into the season after an unusual end to the season a year ago where the Tartans had to withdraw from the NCAA Division III Football Championship due to the pandemic.

"All of our players are 'Dawgs,' we get after it every practice, we go hard, we go fast, we run to the ball. That is just how we are and practice every day. It's how we treat football," said Coyne. "It was an unfortunate event. Keeping the players and coaches safe is the number one priority and you can't fault anyone for that being canceled. We now have the mindset that we belong in the playoffs, and we need to get back there."

Carnegie Mellon will open its 2022 season on Friday, September 2, when Whitworth University travels to Pittsburgh from Spokane, Washington, for a 7:00 p.m. kick at Gesling Stadium. The Tartans' first PAC contest will take place when the Wolverines of Grove City College make the trip to Gesling Stadium on Saturday, September 17 at 1:00 p.m.

2022 PAC Preseason Poll:
1. Westminster (19 first-place votes): 366 points
2. Washington & Jefferson (7): 346 points
3. Carnegie Mellon (10): 336 points
4. Grove City: 278 points
5. Case Western Reserve: 268 points
6. Saint Vincent: 202 points
7. Geneva: 174 points
8. Allegheny: 173 points
9. Waynesburg: 110 points
10. Bethany: 83 points
11. Thiel: 40 points