In the season's first week, two FCS teams, Jacksonville State and North Dakota State, beat FBS teams. Last week, four FCS teams, Liberty, Gardner-Webb, University of South Dakota and James Madison beat FBS teams. FCS teams beating FBS teams are becoming less and less of a surprise. FCS teams beating ranked FBS teams will still take a little getting used to, but the dividing line between the two groups is getting thinner and thinner by the year. Nonetheless, JMU’s accomplishment last Saturday should not go unnoticed.
In the FCS world, the win catapulted JMU to No. 3 in The Sports Network and Coach's polls, and No. 2 on the Any Given Saturday poll. In the FBS world, the following is what I saw on ESPNU HD, after watching the JMU vs. Va. Tech game on Monday night. College football analyst Desmond Howard stated that after beating Va. Tech, Boise State had eight first-place votes. After Va. Tech lost to JMU, Boise State only had one first-place vote. Boise State had only two quality teams on its schedule (Oregon State and Va. Tech), and if it wanted to get to the BCS Championship Bowl game it needed to win both. After Va. Tech lost to JMU, Boise State's victory over Virginia Tech was no longer viewed as a quality win. This is the world we live in. However, JMU, nor FCS teams need ESPN or the rest of the FBS world to define them, as JMU and the rest of FCS defines themselves with their play on the field.
It’s been echoed by many coaches and sportswriters that the greatest growth of a football team is between weeks one and two. As I said in last week’s column, practicing against yourself is different than executing a game plan against an opponent. After the West Chester game, Delaware coach K.C. Keeler stated you cannot simulate game experience. Thus, after most teams had their first game Labor Day weekend, those teams went back to the drawing boards and tried to iron out the wrinkles. To this end, some teams found success this past weekend, while others found they needed a bigger iron.
We sportswriters try to give you, the fan, an insight to your favorite team. We label teams’ winners, losers, also-rans, etc. We take what little knowledge we have and try to paint a picture describing your team. Sometimes we get it right. Sometimes we use the wrong color paint. What gives this writer the most pleasure is when your team goes out and wins a game that all and most specifically, yours truly picked it to lose. When no one, not even you, are giving them a chance, but they (your team) picks themselves up, continues to battle and wills themselves to a win. This is a defining moment for those kids, coaches and fans.
As a father, I’m always proud when my son experiences success. From watching him participate in sports since he was 5, I’ve also watched his teammates and was equally proud for them and their success. By extension, I am proud of the achievements of peer schools within the CAA when they win after everyone, myself included, picked them to lose. After all, it is still kids who are playing in front of us, giving us the joy of college football played at its best. It is these kids who define themselves on the gridiron. It is to these kids, their coaches, and their fans I am proud to say “You were right, and I was wrong."
Team: CAA Overall
Massachusetts 1 – 0 2 – 0
Delaware 0 – 0 2 – 0
James Madison 0 – 0 2 – 0
Maine 0 – 0 1 – 1
New Hampshire 0 – 0 1 – 1
Towson 0 – 0 1 – 1
Villanova 0 – 0 1 – 1
Richmond 0 – 0 0 – 1
Rhode Island 0 – 0 0 – 2
Williams & Mary 0 – 1 1 – 1
On a 75-degree, partly cloudy evening, 2,952 showed up to watch the Rhode Island Rams invade Jack Coffey Field in the Bronx to take on the Fordham Rams. The Fordham Rams won 27 – 25. Essentially, Fordham has to feel lucky and/or grateful that Rhode Island let it hang around long enough to steal a win. Fordham outgained URI 434 to 359 in total offensive yardage. Fordham was led by Sr. RB, Xavier Martin (Staten Island, N.Y.) with 95 yards rushing and one TD, So., QB, Blake Wayne (Concord, Calif.), who was 23-37-1 for 222 yds. and 1 TD, and Rs., Sr., WR, Jason Caldwell (Baltimore, Md.), who had 11 receptions for 140 yds. and 1 TD. Turnovers were a push as both sides had two apiece. Fordham had more first downs, 26 to 19. URI had more penalties, 7 for 52 yds., whereas Fordham had only 2 for 25 yds. Fordham converted 8-of-17 third downs where URI converted only 6 of 17. Fordham missed 2 FGs (49 and 24 yards), where URI missed 1 (47-yarder). With all due respect to Fordham, URI is its own worst enemy. URI has found that it can put points on the board. Jr., QB, Steve Probst (N.Massapequa, N.Y.) was 26-41-1 for 224 yds and 3 TDs. Once URI stops making drive-killing mistakes (penalties and turnovers), and figures out how to get off the field on defense, it might finally start to win some games. Hopefully, it won’t take too long to define what type of team it will be, as we’re already two games into the 2010 season.
At Johnny Unitas Stadium, 8,990 witnessed a record five-overtime game played between the Towson Tigers and the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers. Coastal would score first, Coastal would score last. Coastal came up short on a two-point conversion pass. At the end of regulation, the score was tied 21-21. It took five overtimes to break the tie. Both teams were evenly matched. As stated in last week’s column, the series was tied at a win each with each team winning at home. Now the series was back at TU. Coastal had 23 first downs, TU had 22. Coastal had 363 total net yards of offense, TU had 370. Each team had a turnover. Coastal had six penalties for 184 yards, TU had five for 150. TU led in time of possession by 51 seconds. Coastal was 9-of-18 on third down, TU was 9-of-19 on third down. Both teams were 3-of-4 on PATs, and 2-for-2 on FGs. It’s no wonder this game went into five OTs. The final score was 47 – 45 TU.
For Coastal, Sr. QB, Zach MacDowall (Acworth, Ga.) led the team offensively as he was 19-of-33 for 185 yds., and one TD in addition to rushing for 57 yards on 18 carries and scoring 2 TDs. The Tigers were led by Jr. QB, Chris Hart (Bradenton, Fla.) who was 13-21-1 for 155 yards and four TDs in addition to rushing for 79 yards on 22 carries. Besides Hart, Sr., WR, Hakeem Moore (Fredericksille, Va.) had 3 receptions for 106 yards and two TDs with one of the receptions being a 57-yarder. On defense, So., Safety Jordan Dangerfield (Royal Palm Beach, Fla.), who transferred from Hofstra, tipped the pass away from the Chanticleer receiver on the two-point conversion to win the game. Next up for the Tigers is the defending national champion, Villanova.
At tiny Kessler Field in West Long Branch, N.J., 3,830 came out to see the Maine Black Bears play the Monmouth Hawks. This was yet another CAA vs. NEC match for the Black Bears and a chance to right a wrong from week one. While it was the goal of the Black Bears to have an even mix of run vs. pass in their offense, the Black Bears clearly committed to running the ball. Maine rushed 41 times out of 67 offensive plays. On first down, Maine rushed 22 out of 29 times. With Jr., RB, Jared Turcotte (Lewiston, Me.) running the ball, it only makes sense as Turcotte rushed for 144 yards on 29 carries scoring three TDs and had one run of 51 yards. Overall, Maine had 239 net yards rushing and 194 net yards passing as Jr. QB, Warren Smith (Forked River, N.J.) had a better outing. Smith was 17-for-26 with his longest pass being 49 yards. Jr. RB, Derek Session (Baltimore, Md.) was Smith’s leading receiver with four catches for 78 yards.
The Black Bear defense held the Hawks to 87 net yards rushing, but gave up 247 net yards passing. Neither team turned the ball over, but Maine amassed 11 penalties for 100 yards. Against Albany, Maine had seven penalties for 71 yards. There is obvious room for improvement in this area. Monmouth was led by Jr. QB, Kyle Frazier (Gaithersburg, Md.) who was 20-for-36 and 240 yards as well as rushing seven times for 64 yards and a TD. Freshman kicker Eric Spillane (Howell, N.J.) connected on three field goals of 32, 25 and 37 yards and was 2-for-2 on PATs. It was good to see the Black Bears come out on the winning side of this matchup 31 – 23. However, the good feeling will probably be short-lived as up next for Maine is FBS Syracuse.
At McGuirk Stadium, 16,352 came out to see the Holy Cross Crusaders play Massachusetts. As the Minutemen were victorious over William & Mary, UMass continues to redefine itself in an impressive 31 – 7 victory. The Minutemen flew out to a 31 – 0 lead at halftime, scoring on their last five possessions of the first half. Where UMass dominated on the ground in Week No. 1, the Minutemen turned to the right arm of Sr. QB, Kyle Havens (Concord, Calif.) who was 25-38-0 for 293 yards and two TDs and added 26 yards rushing. One of Haven’s favorite targets was Sr., WR, Anthony Nelson (Willington, Fla.), who transferred in from Hofstra and had eight receptions for 103 yds. UMass outgained the Crusaders 358 to 69 yards in the first half. The final tally was 525 to 213. The Minutemen still managed to cause 11 penalties for 104 yards, and if UMass doesn’t rectify this problem soon, it’s going to hurt them in games that are close.
The lone bright spot for Holy Cross came in the third quarter when Sr. LB, Perry Townsend (Frankford, Del.) blocked a punt that was recovered by So., TE, Reed Apfelbaum (Upper St. Clair, Pa.) at the UMass 20. On the next play, Sr. QB, Ryan Taggert (Bedford,Texas) threw a 20-yard TD pass to Sr. WR, Freddie Santana (Staten Island, N.Y.) for the only points scored by either team in the second half. After beating Howard University from the MEAC 38 – 7, then falling to the Minutemen of the CAA 31 – 7, Holy Cross has one nonconference game remaining and that’s against Ivy league in-state rival Harvard. The remainder of the Crusaders schedule will not feature a team as strong as UMass, so the sledding should get much easier until the playoffs. For the Minutemen, their schedule will get more challenging as next up will be No. 20/22 Michigan in Ann Arbor. If JMU, and not too long ago, Appalachian State, has taught us anything, it’s that ranked FBS teams lose just like FCS teams. Beating them tends to make the FCS teams smile a little wider.
In Williamsburg, 11,475 came out to Zable Stadium to see the visiting VMI Keydets take on the William & Mary Tribe. Coming off the loss to UMass, this had to be a “feel good” game for the Tribe as the college extended its winning streak over the Keydets to 24 games with a 45 – 0 victory. Tribe coach Jimmye Laycock stated in his Monday morning teleconference call that he was proud of the way his team progressed from week one to week two. Laycock further stated that all facets of the team played well against the Keydets.
Tribe highlights included outgaining the Keydets 391 to 239, only allowing the Keydets inside the Red Zone once, limiting the Keydets to 1 of 19 third and fourth-down conversions and registering five interceptions. Rs., Sr., QB, Mike Callahan (Mountville, Pa.) led the Tribe on offense as he was 12-for-17, 234 yards, one TD in 2˝ quarters of work. Jr. DE, Marcus Hyde (Manassas, Va.) led the Tribe on defense with nine tackles, one sack, and two tackles for loss. On special teams, So., DB, B.W. Webb (Newport News, Va.) returned a punt 64 yards for a TD to open the scoring in Saturday’s game. The Keydets were led on offense by Sr. RB, Gabe Itoka (Reston, Va.), who had rushed 21 times for a net of 85 yards. VMI had 113 net yards rushing. On defense, VMI was led by Jr. LB, A.J. Gross (Walford, Md.) who had 10 tackles, one tackle for a loss, and one fumble recovery. Next up for the Tribe is CAA newcomer, Old Dominion.
At Lane Stadium in Blackburg, Va., 66,233 showed up in the miserable rain to watch the FCS No. 12/11 James Madison Dukes take on the FBS No. 13-ranked Virginia Tech Hokies. JMU had two possessions in the first quarter that led to punts. The Dukes netted 19 total yards, 1 first down, and only held the ball for 4:42. Meanwhile, Tech took the ball on its first possession and marched 94 yards in 17 plays, holding the ball for 8:48 while scoring its first TD to take a 7- 0 lead. The score came on a 9-yard pass from Sr. QB, Tyrod Taylor (Hampton, Va.) to Jr. WR, Jarrett Boykin (Matthews, N.C.). On Tech’s seconed possession, the Hokies marched to the JMU 35 before Taylor fumbled giving the ball back to JMU. Now in the second quarter, JMU executed three plays and lost seven yards. After punting back to Tech, the Hokies drove 55 yards in 10 plays and scored on a 30-yard field goal by Rs., Sr., PK, Chris Hazley (West Chester, Pa.) to extend the Hokie lead to 10 – 0. With 6:56 left to go in the second quarter, JMU had run only 10 plays for a net of 12 yards.
JMU’s fourth possession didn’t look too promising as well. Starting at the Dukes' 30, Rs. QB, Drew Dudzik (Clifton, Va.) executed a “Zone Read" and ran to the left for four yards. With third and 17 from the JMU 23, Dudzik just flipped the ball to the left flat after reading through his progressions and Rs., Sr. RB, Jamaal Sullivan (Ruther Glen, Va.) slipped one tackle, stayed in bounds, made a seconddefender miss and ran 77 yards down the sideline for a TD, bringing the score to 10 – 7 Hokies. Tech got the ball back after the kickoff and marched 34 yards in eight plays and settled for a 41-yard FG by Hazley to extend the Tech lead to 13 – 7 just before halftime. Tech got the ball to start the third quarter and marched 50 yards in seven plays before settling for a Hazley 28-yard FG. This extended the Hokie lead to 16 – 7. As Tech had been dominant offensively, no one could have possibly known that the Hokies would not score again. On the flip side, save for one 70-yard catch and run, JMU had done nothing offensively.
This is where Drew Dudzik and that “Zone Read” went to work. JMU’s first drive of the second half was a 15-play, 66-yard touchdown drive that ate 7:25 of clock, to bring the score to 16 – 14 Hokies. Of those 15 plays, 10 were rushing plays. Of those 10, six were runs by Sullivan and four where Dudzik kept the ball and ran to the left, including the TD run of seven yards.
Everybody gets beat or has gotten beaten once on a given play. The old saying “fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me." Va. Tech was the No. 13-ranked FBS team in the country that plays in the ACC. Watching Dudzik beat it easily on that “Zone Read” for the TD score, you would think, “go one for JMU, it found something and capitalized.” However, you would think Va. Tech would have adjusted to the “Zone Read” and squashed it. Many times in the second half, the camera found the defensive coordinator for Virginia Tech with his hands reaching toward heaven in an appearance of looking for devine help. There was utter exasperation and desperation on the man’s face. There was 3:58 left in the third quarter and Tech was obviously thinking “Well, JMU hasn’t stopped us yet, we’ll go down and score again.” On the third play from scrimmage, Rs., Jr., Safety, Jonathan Williams (Ridgeway, Va.) intercepted a pass thrown by Taylor.
Dudzik drove the team 62 yards in eight plays, using 4:09 of clock, and again using that “Zone Read” to score from 12 yards out over the left side. Tech helped out on this drive with a late hit out of bounds on a end around run by Rs. Jr. WR, Kirby Long (Arlington, Va.) that added 15 yards to Long’s run of six yards. In the drive, Dudzik threw only once. With just under 14 minutes to go, JMU held its first lead 21 – 16.
Following the kickoff, Tech drove 48 yards in seven plays. Facing a fourth-and-two from the JMU 17 with about 10 minutes remaining, the Hokies went for it instead of trying for a field goal. But Taylor’s slant pass fell incomplete. Now, if you were a Hokie fan, that was certainly a head scratcher. For those rooting for the Dukes, you couldn’t have been happier.
The Dukes had a three-and-out and punted back to Tech using just a little more than a minute of clock. Tech received the ball on its 33 and drove to the Dukes' 12. On second and one, Tech fumbled back to JMU with 5:23 remaining. JMU, with Drew Dudzik running the offense, and utilizing that “Zone Read” would not relinquish the ball again. DUKES WIN!!!!! DUKES WIN!!! DUKES WIN!!!!
Now, it seems I have a little crow to eat. Yes, I did pick Tech to beat JMU 51 – 13. After all, the last two times these teams met, Tech outscored the Dukes 90 – 0. Tech was ranked No. 10 prior to the loss with Boise State, and only fell to No. 13 before playing the Dukes. Tech was 6 – 0 against the Dukes. Yes, Tech was coming off a short week, but Landover, Md., is only a few hours from Blacksburg, so it wasn’t like Tech had to overcome a time change or anything such as that. It was Tech’s home opener. While all of you out there in JMU land might not have picked the same score I did, I can’t imagine any of you picking JMU to win. As I said, players define themselves by what they do on the field. JMU has clearly made the statement that it is for real and will be a force to be reckoned with. This is not the 2009 Dukes. I also want to thank JMU fans, Keith Johnson, Bob Brown and alumnus Robert Hendrickson for your e-mails. While I didn’t get a chance to reply to you, I hope this passage will suffice.
In Newark, Del., 19,854 came out to Tubby Raymond Field to see the visiting No. 9 ranked South Dakota State Jackrabbits take on No. 16/17 ranked Delaware Blue Hens. As far as FCS vs. FCS teams go, this game carried interest countrywide as it pitted two nationally ranked teams against each other that were meeting for the first time. For the Jacks, this would be their season opener, for the Blue Hens, it would be their second game, but first against an FCS squad. Both coaches had a lot of questions about their respective teams. Both hoped to leave the field with some answers. One did while the other left with more questions.
You’ve heard of "the gift that keeps on giving," well, the fans of SDSU must feel that phrase applies to their football team. We all know the story of last year’s playoff where SDSU virtually gave that game away to Montana. Well, for whatever reason, it would appear SDSU started off the 2010 season where it ended in '09. SDSU’s first play from scrimmage resulted in a false start. After a two-yard run, SDSU committed a delay of game penalty. On third-and-14, SDSU was intercepted by Sr., DB, Anthony Bratton (Manassas, Va.). With first and 10 from the SDSU 30, Sr. QB, Pat Devlin (Downingtown, Pa.) led the Blue Hens on an eight-play TD drive with Devlin completing a 7-yard TD pass to Sr. WR, Philip Thaxton (Yorktown, Va.). With 9:45 remaining in the first quarter, UD led 7 – 0.
SDSU’s second possession led to three straight incomplete passes. After fielding the punt, UD began its second drive on its 43. Devlin led the Blue Hens on an eight-play, 34 yard scoring drive resulting in a 40-yard FG by Jr. PK, Mike Perry (Thorofare, N.J.) to increase the UD lead to 10 – 0 with 4:56 remaining in the first. On SDSU’s second play of its third possession, Bratton intercepted another pass. Devlin took the team 43 yards in seven plays, culminating in a three-yard TD run by freshman sensation, RB, Andrew Pierce (Bridgeton, N.J.). UD led 17 – 0 with 1:13 left in the first quarter.
The Blue Hens went on to win 26 – 3 as their offensive and defensive lines dominated. Keeler stated in his Monday morning teleconference call that SDSU coach John Stiegelmeier told him that UD’s "fat guys are better than SDSU's fat guys." Keeler accepted the compliment as it reflected positively on how his offensive and defensive lines won the day in Delaware. One concern is that Devlin might have fractured a bone in his left (non-throwing wrist). During the game, UD did not want him to take snaps from directly under center. His condition will be followed and might have an impact on the UD season. The Blue Hens had 257 net yards rushing while only allowing SDSU to gain 25 net rushing yards. Overall, UD had 400 total net yards on offense while SDSU only had 250. UD intercepted SDSU three times. UD was 9-of-16 on third down while only allowing SDSU three conversions of third downs in 15 attempts. UD was 4-of-5 in the red zone, while SDSU was 1-of- 3. UD held the ball for 37 minutes while SDSU could only manage 22 minutes time of possession.
Yes, the Blue Hen crowd can allow themselves a smile as the shape of this 2010 team is starting to take form as Devlin, Pierce, Bratton and company begin to define themselves to the rest of FCS and most importantly to the CAA.
At Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, 50,120 fans came out to see the Pittsburgh Panthers host the New Hampshire Wildcats. UNH won the toss and elected to receive. Sr., CB, Dino Vasso (Crum Lynne, Pa.) fielded the ball at the goal line and returned it to the 6-yard line handing the ball off to Sr. WR, Terrance Fox, who reversed the ball picking up 15 more yards to the Wildcat 21. On the first play from scrimmage, Sr.,QB, R.J. Toman (Mission Veijo, Calif.) was picked off and returned to the Wildcat 16. The Wildcat defense stiffened only allowing Pitt to gain one yard and settle for a 32-yard FG. On UNH’s next possession, the Cats were able to scratch out 25 yards in nine plays, and using 3:46 before punting back to Pitt. However, Pitt drove 54 yards in 11 plays, capping the drive with a 2-yard TD run to extend its lead to 10 – 0. Both teams did not allow a firt down on each of their opponent’s next possession. UNH started the second quarter with the ball, and Toman drove the team 75 yards in 10 plays for a score. So., PK, A.J. Delago (Menands, N.Y.) connected on a 22-yard FG to narrow the gap to 10 – 3 Pitt.
Listening to UNH coach Sean McDonnell on his Monday morning teleconference call, he stated that the game was close at 10 – 3 Pitt with about 2:18 left to go in the half, when a bad punt by UNH gave Pitt good field position. Pitt took advantage and drove 62 yards in eight plays to push the score to 17 – 3 Pitt.
McDonnell went on to say that the size and physicality of Pitt wore UNH down in the second half, and UNH missed some tackles on two big scoring plays for Pitt. These are things you cannot afford to do if you want to beat a top BCS team. The final score was 38 – 16 Pitt. While first downs were even with Pitt having 21 and UNH having 20, Pitt had a sizeable advantage in total net yards with 445 to UNH’s 298. Pitt was 8-of-17 on third downs where UNH was 3-of-10. UNH’s FBS unbeaten streak is over, but this is just one loss and the Cats must turn their focus to their conference opener next Saturday against Rhode Island down at Meade Stadium.
At Goodman Stadium, in Bethlehem, Pa., 8,168 came out to see the defending national champion Villanova Wildcats play the host Lehigh Mountain Hawks. These are two teams that used to be close in ability. Lehigh’s last win over the Wildcats came in 2006 where the Mountain Hawks won by 3, 31 – 28. However, as the years passed by, the margin of victory grew for Nova. In '07, this current class freshman year, Nova won by 10, 30 – 20. In '08, Nova won by 19, 33 – 14. In '09, Nova won by 21, 38 – 17. 2010 would be no different as Nova won handily 35 – 0, thus ending the series with Lehigh on a four-game sweep.
While the score would indicate Nova had an easy time, this game was anything but easy. First, let’s talk about attendance. Of the 8,146 that attended, it would appear by looking at the pictures below, that the 8k were Lehigh fans. Below is a picture of the fans supporting Nova, about 146 give or take a few. If Nova has Big East aspirations, it’ll have to do a little better than this for fan support.
As for the game, Villanova had three turnovers in the first half, but it led 21 – 0. The Wildcats had 16 first downs by halftime, where Lehigh had only three. The Wildcats had 171 yards rushing by halftime, where Lehigh had -2. The Wildcats had 323 total net yards at halftime, Lehigh had 84. Sr., RB, Aaron Ball (Los Angeles, Calif.) started the scoring with an 11-yard TD run giving Nova a 7 – 0 lead. Ball finished with 102 yards rushing on 20 carries and the one TD. With 20 seconds to go in the first quarter, Sr., QB, Chris Whitney (Warminster, Pa.) hit So., WR, Dorian Wells (West Covina, Calif.) with a 39-yard TD Pass. Whitney finished 8 – 13 – 2, 129 yards and two TDs. Wells had three receptions for 99 yards, and the one TD. Sr., RB, Angelo Babbaro (Canfield, Ohio) finished the first half scoring with an 8-yard TD run to give the Cats the 21 – 0 lead. Babbaro finished with 68 yards rushing on 11 carries and the one TD.
In the third quarter, Sr. TE, Chris Farmer (Philadelphia, Pa.) caught his second career TD pass, a 7-yarder from Whitney. Farmer’s first career TD pass occurred in the national championship game against Montana. In the fourth quarter, true Fr. RB, Ransford Quarrie (Hamilton, N.J.) scored from a yard out. The defense was led by Sr. Safety, Fred Maldonado (West Chester, Pa.) with seven tackles and one tackle for loss. In the post-game news conference, I asked Maldonado how was he able to anticipate what the offense was going to do? Maldonado replied everything he did on Saturday was a result of the defensive preparation during the week. There were no surprises in the game, everything was as they practiced.
Villanova Andy Talley stated that his team came out a little sluggish in the beginning but the team picked it up and secured the win. It was not without cost though as Nova might have lost another linemen as Sr. LG, Brant Clouser (Altoona, Pa.) sustained a leg injury and might not be available next week. In '09, the Cats defined themselves as champions. In 2010, the Cats are learning what it is and how it feels to defend a championship. The younger players are being asked to play like a champion. Because of the lack of depth at the FCS level, the Cats do not have he luxury of red-shirting all their freshman. These young guns will define the future as well as themselves. On Monday afternoon, the '09 Wildcat Football team along with the Women’s Cross Country team went to the White House to meet President Obama. This is an apparent custom every year when the president meets the NCAA champions from the prior year. In his speech to the athletes, President Obama spoke of the deeds done by Sr. WR, Matt Szczur (Erma, N.J.) in relation to Szczur’s bone marrow donation to save a little girl.
[The following photos are by Jordan Blassingame and Marlene Walters]
Last week: 7 – 2
My predictions bring me to 13 – 5 on the season for a 72 percent accuracy rate. This week will see two games featuring conference openers, two FCS vs. FBS matchups, and one game that will be the first in a new stadium besides pitting two ranked FCS teams against each other.
Maine (0 – 0, 1 – 1) @ Syracuse (0 – 0, 1 – 1) @ 7:15 p.m.
Series: Syracuse leads 1 – 0
These teams met in '09 and the Orange walked away 41 – 24 winners. Both teams have grown and improved a little since then. Up front, Maine’s offensive line averages 6’4, 289 lbs, whereas the Orange defensive line averages 6’3, 268 lbs. The Orange offensive line averages 6’4,302 lbs., where the Black Bears avg 6’2, 254 lbs. Maine’s defense has been the strength of this team and will be tested by the size and physicality of the Orange. Syracuse is not Monmouth, and if the Black Bears could not score against Albany, they might find it even tougher to put points on the board against Syracuse.
Upset Meter [--2---] Orangemen 47 – Black Bears 7.
#16/#15 Massachusetts (1 – 0, 2 – 0) @ #20/22 FBS Michigan (0 – 0, 2 – 0) @ 12:00
TV: Big 10 Network
Series: First Meeting
The Wolverines have etched into the FBS top 25 and has a Heisman hopeful in So., QB, Denard Robinson. Under former Coach Lloyd Carr, Michigan was a top five FBS team, but lost its season opener to Appalachian State. Trust me, UM Head Coach, Rich Rodriguez will not let that happen on his watch. UMass coach, Kevin Morris will undoubtedly try and use JMU’s win as inspiration for his Minutemen, and call on the players who have previously played with FBS teams to set the tone. If Massachusetts can eliminate the penalties and keep it close, it might have a chance. However, it’s this writer’s humble opinion that the Minutemen will get worn down by UM’s offensive lines, and the Wolverines will run all over the Minutemen.
Upset Meter [--2----] Wolverines 48 Minutemen 17
#12/#13 William & Mary (0 – 1, 1 – 1) @ Old Dominion (1 – 1) @ 7 p.m.
TV: CSN-MA, CSN-P (Tape Delayed @ 10:30).
Series: First Meeting
Welcome to the CAA. While they’re not yet an official member, the Monarchs are getting their first taste of what it will be like to compete in the CAA. ODU will begin actual CAA play in 2011. First up for the Monarchs are the Tribe of William and Mary. Unfortunately for ODU, the Tribe doesn’t have time for niceties as the college is in pursuit of a CAA crown and a national championship. The Tribe will look to run over the Monarchs much like it did the Keydets last week. This will be the Tribe’s last FCS nonconference opponent, and the sense of urgency is high as all of the CAA teams appear to be getting stronger with each passing week. The Tribe will look to put the Monarchs away early and begin preparation for Maine. The Monarchs will put up a good fight and possibly score a TD late, but more importantly look to learn from this game, as this will help prepare the ODU for 2011.
Upset Meter [0---] Tribe 42 Monarchs 7.
Duquesne (0 – 0, 2 – 0) @ #11/12 Delaware (0 - 0, 2 -0) @ 6 p.m.
Series: First Meeting
This game represents several firsts for the Dukes. It’s their first time playing UD, their first time entering the state of Delaware, first time playing anyone in the CAA (Duquesne has played Nova and Richmond in football prior to the formation of the CAA), their first time playing a nationally ranked team. At 2 – 0 to start the season, the Dukes are just happy to be here. Delaware will punish the Dukes physically. UD will push the Dukes up and down the field and will run through the Dukes, around the Dukes and away from the Dukes. The extent of Pat Devlin’s injury is still unknown; if Devlin plays, expect the Blue Hens to load up on the run game. If backup Rs., Fr., Trevor Sasek (Limerick, Pa.) is forced to play a lot, expect him to put the ball in the air to help prepare him for Richmond the following week.
Upset Meter [0---] Blue Hens 35 Dukes – 0.
#8/8 New Hampshire (0 – 0, 1 – 1) @ Rhode Island (0 – 0, 0 – 2) @ Noon
Series: New Hampshire leads 50-28-5
The Wildcats will look to bounce back from their FBS loss to Pitt as the Cats try to keep pace with other self-defined CAA teams. UNH has too much offense for the Rams defense, and the Wildcat air game will exploit the Rams secondary. While the Rams are ever improving, they’re not yet up to the level of the CATS.
Upset Meter [0--] Wildcats 38 Rams 21.
#7/7 Elon (0 – 0, 1 – 1) @ #9/9 Richmond ( 0 – 0, 0 -1) @ 1 p.m.
Series: Richmond leads 3 – 0
These two last met in the FCS quarterfinals with UR prevailing 16 – 13. UR has been weakened by graduation, but was able to pick up Jr., QB, Aaron Corp, who transferred in from USC. UR had a rough outing in its season opener at Virginia, but had a bye week to prepare for Elon. Corp looked quite good in his first game as a Spider. UR will have to patch things up on defense if it wants to compete with the Phoenix. The Phoenix opened with a loss to FBS Duke, 41 – 27 in Durham, then won easily in Week No. 2 against DII Shaw. Both teams are looking for that first FCS win. The Phoenix return 13 starters in 2010 (7 on offense and 6 on defense). The Phoenix offense starts and stops with Walter Paytong candidate Scott Riddle. Look for a tight-fisted affair with the team that makes the fewest mistakes wins.
Upset Meter [---8-] Phoenix 24 Spiders 20.
Towson (0 – 0, 1 – 1) @ #1/#2 Villanova (0 – 0, 1 – 1) @ 3:30 p.m.
Series: Villanova leads 4 - 2
Both teams lost to FBS teams, both teams beat nonconference FCS opponents, and with the exception of '09, both teams have played close games. Last year was TU’s coach, Rob Ambrose, first year with the team. Ambrose has a world of respect for the Wildcats, and will tell you in a heartbeat that his team is getting better. But they’re still about two years away of being able to compete with the Nova’s of the world. Dual threat QB Chris Hart will put points up on the board for the Tigers, but the Tiger defense has been getting scored on repeatedly. Look for Nova to put up another 30-plus points en route to a win.
Upset meter [0---] Villanova 34 – Towson 17
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