Talley replied by saying that the 2010 defense has yet to be tested.
After three games, Villanova is first in the CAA in rushing defense allowing only 56 yards per game, and second in the CAA in total defense yielding 239 yards per game.
Thus far, only six of the 10 CAA teams have played a conference game. As CAA teams conclude their nonconference schedules, the real test of CAA play will soon commence. Most CAA fans are anxiously holding their collective breaths as many believe their respective teams might be special in 2010. However, with the exception of James Madisonís victory over FBS Virginia Tech, and Rhode Islandís victory over then-ranked No. 8 New Hampshire, none of the remaining CAA teams can point to any one defining victory.
Delaware thought it had one when it destroyed South Dakota State. However, SDSU has yet to win and is still in free fall. It wonít be until the conference slate is in full motion when CAA teams face real tests that we can evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the teams inside the conference.
|William & Mary||0-1||.000||0-0||0-1||L1||2-1||.667||1-0||1-1||W2|
At the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, N.Y., 37,758 came out to see the Maine Black Bears visit the Syracuse Orangemen. For a half, the Black Bears played well, trailing only 17 Ė 14 at halftime. However, the wheels on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball came off in the second half as Syracuse ran away with a 38 Ė 14 victory.
The Orange ended the first half scoring on its last three possessions, and it picked up where it left off in the second half scoring on three straight possessions after its first drive of the half ended in a punt. The Orange also scored twice after recovering two fumbles. Both turnovers led to Orange TDs.
In his Monday teleconference call, Maine coach Jack Cosgrove voiced his displeasure with the way his team played, stating it made too many mistakes. Plus, he said it didnít cover anyone defensively.
From Maineís perspective, it might argue that in its three games, it has been tested. However, there were high expectation for this season. While Albany and Monmouth are good NEC teams, Maine was expected to win both games. Syracuse is an FBS team and should have been expected to win, but you can argue that Syracuse wouldnít win the CAA. Thus, the road for Maine from here on out gets only tougher. Maineís first test will be Saturday when it hosts William & Mary. [Photos courtesy of University of Maine Athletic Media Relations]
In Ann Arbor, Mich., 110,187 came out to see the Massachusetts Minuteman take on the Michigan Wolverines in the ďBig House.Ē Now UMass already has one CAA victory under its belt and has beaten soundly Patriot League contender Holy Cross. UMass even had a 17 Ė 7 lead over FBS Michigan early in the second quarter before eventually falling to the Wolverines 42 Ė 37. Of all CAA teams, UMass might think itís been tested through three games and are ready to challenge for the league crown. I honestly cannot argue with its body of work, but the rest of its CAA slate looms ahead, and the Minutemen might think its season is just beginning.
In the Michigan game, UMass had more first downs than the Wolverines 26 Ė 22. UMass put up 439 yards of total offense on the Wolverines. Turnovers were a push as both sides had each (one fumble and one interception). Iím even proud to say that the Minutemen even cut down on their penalties, numbering only six for 46 yards. The Minutemen also led in time of possession, 37 minutes to 22 minutes.
Additional impressive stats: UMass was 8-of-14 on third/fourth-down conversions where Michigan was 4-of-7. Also, the Minutemen were 6-of-6 in red zone scoring, scoring five TDs and one field goal. Leading the way for the Minutemen was Rs., Jr. RB, Jonathan Hernandez (Leominster, Mass.), who carried 26 times for 114 yards, and 2 TDs. Along with Hernandez, Sr., RB, John Griffin (Westminster, Mass.) rushed 17 times for 96 yards. Sr. QB, Kyle Havens (Concord, Calif.) led the team in passing as he was 22-29-1 for 222 yards and 2 TDs. On the receiving end, UMass was led by Rs., Jr. Julian Talley (Winslow,N.J.), who caught seven passes for 91 yards and a TD.
UMass coach Kevin Morris prepared his team well for the Wolverines. He stated that he wasnít happy with the loss, but he was satisfied with the way his team played. Havens played smart football and put his team in a position to win. The Minutemen just came up a little short in a game that 110,000 Wolverine fans didnít expect them to be in.
At Ballard Stadium in Norfolk, Va., 19,782 came out to watch the Old Dominion Monarchs host the William & Mary Tribe. For ODU, this was its first step into the waters of the CAA and a measuring test to see how the Monarchs compared with CAA competition. The Tribe won 21 Ė 17, but the Monarchs left with their heads held high knowing that victory was not far out of their reach.
The Monarchs led at the end of the first quarter 7 Ė 0, and again at halftime 14 Ė 7. At the end of the third quarter, the score was tied 14 Ė 14. It was the wisdom and experience of the Tribe that prevailed in the end, giving the Tribe their final margin of victory.
William & Mary had more first downs (24 Ė 15), more rushing yards (134 Ė 129), more passing yards (290 Ė 186), more total yards (424 Ė 315), held the ball longer (32 minutes to 27 minutes) had a better third-down conversion rate 6/14 vs. 3/16. However, the Tribe was only 1-for-4 in the red zone missing three field goals keeping the game close.
Tribe coach Jimmye Laycock was happy with the rushing yardage, but stated the offensive line needs to block better. Laycock noted the team was without co-captain, offensive linemen, Rs., Sr., Keith Hill (Hamilton, N.J.) due to an injured hand. Laycock also noted that the defense has to play better as the team sometimes took bad angles or didnít finish tackles. The Tribe was led on offense by Rs. Sr., QB, Mike Callahan (Mountville, Pa.), who was 21-31-1, 290 yds, 2 TDs. Jr., RB, Jonathan Grimes (Palmrya, N.J.) rushed 27 times for 124 yards and one TD. He added three receptions for 22 yards. Jr. TE, Alex Gottlieb (Delray Beach, Fla.) led the Tribe in receiving with five receptions for 57 yards.
The Monarchs were led by Rs., Jr. QB, Thomas DeMarco (Palm Desert, Calif.), who was 21-40-1, 186 yds, 1 TD, and rushed 13 times for 34 yards. ODU was led in rushing by Fr. RB, Colby Goodwin (Hampton,Va.), who ran three times for 42 yards and a TD. So. RB, Mario Crawford (Detroit, Mich.) led the Monarchs in receptions with seven for 44 yards. ODU will face another future CAA team, Georgia State, on Oct. 23, but will have to wait until 2011 for another chance to test itself against the rest of the conference.
Up next for the Tribe is a trip to Orono, Maine, where the Tribe will face the Black Bears for their second conference game.
In Newark, Del., 18,922 came out to watch the Delaware Blue Hens host the Duquesne Dukes. With starting Sr. QB, Pat Devlin (Downingtown, Pa.) sidelined due to a wrist injury, Rs., Fr., Trevor Sasek (Limerick, Pa.) got the start for the Blue Hens. But the gameís first score came on behalf of the Blue Hen defense. After the Dukes won the toss, they elected to receive. With the Dukes facing a third-and-1 from the their 40, Sr. CB, Tyrone Grant (Savannah, Ga.) picked off a pass and ran it back 45 yards for the score. Sasek,, the UD offensive line and Fr., RB, Andrew Pierce (Bridgeton, N.J.) took over the remainder of the game. Pierce rushed 16 times for 200 yards and 2 TDs.
Sasek was 7-for-9 passing for 75 yards and a TD. The Blue Hens won 30 Ė 6. Delaware coach K.C. Keeler stated that Devlin was suited up on the sidelines and ready to go if the Blue Hens needed him, but Keeler and his staff knew they had a favorable matchup with the Dukes and thought it would be better to save Devlin for the Richmond game. Keeler was disappointed that the three nonconference games were not as challenging as he had hoped, especially the SDSU game, but he believes his team has made improvements. He believes his team has gotten healthier as the conference games are about to heat up. The first test for the Blue Hens will be in Richmond as they travel down Interstate 95 to take on the Spiders in newly built Robbins Stadium. [Photo Gallery by Mark Campbell]
At Meade Stadium in Kingston, R.I., 4,521 showed up to watch the visiting New Hampshire Wildcats take on the Rhode Island Rams. URIís opening drive stalled after six plays and 21 yards gained. The Rams punted to UNH. Sr., WR, Terrance Fox (Piscataway, N.J.), who fielded the ball at the UNH 6-yard line. But he fumbled the ball back to the Rams. After three plays and two yards gained, Jr. PK, Louis Feinstein (Irvine, Calif.) kicked a 17-yard field goal for the gameís opening score and a 3 Ė 0 URI lead.
The Wildcatsí next two drive ended in TDs as Sr. QB, R.J. Toman (Mission Viejo, Calif.) led a six-play, 70-yard drive that ended with him running the last 28 yards for the TD, giving the CATS a 7 Ė 3 lead. The next series took five plays and 44 yards as Toman found Fox for a 21-yard TD reception. The Cats were successful on the two-point conversion and their lead increased to 15 Ė 3.
Not to be outdone, URI, Sr. QB, Steve Probst (N. Massapequa, N.Y.) engineered two scoring drives to end the half. After the New Hampshire touchdown, Probst drove the Rams 10 plays in 66 yards, and he delivered a five-yard TD pass to Jr. WR., Anthony Baskerville (Newark, N.J.), narrowing the score to 15 Ė 10. Just before halftime, Probst drove the team 74 yards in seven plays before settling for a Feinstein 23-yard field goal. The score was now UNH 15, URI 13.
In the second half, Toman took the Wildcats 57 yards in 10 plays and settled for a 26-yard FG by Rs., Fr., PK, Mike MacArthur (N. Hampton, N.H.), increasing the Catsí lead to 18 Ė 13. A funny thing happened in the third quarter, URIís defense made an appearance. The Rams took away any type of a running game from the Cats. However, the Rams turned the ball over on downs once inside the Catsí 25, and Probst was later intercepted in the third quarter killing another Rams scoring attempt.
In the beginning of the fourth quarter, Probst drove his Rams 81 yards in seven plays, running in the final two yards himself. Probst also ran in the two-point conversion to give the Rams a 21 Ė 18 lead. On the ensuing UNH possession, Toman took his team 60 yards in four plays, culminating in a 21-yard TD pass to Fox. With the PAT, the Cats were back in the lead 25 Ė 21. Remember that Ram defensive sighting, it showed up again in the fourth as Toman was sacked with about 2:33 left in the game and fumbled. Fr., DL, James Timmins (Staten Island, N.Y.) picked up the fumble and raced 39 yards for the TD giving the Rams back the lead at 28 Ė 25. The Cats had the ball for one final drive, but facing a third-and-11 from the URI 42, Toman was picked off sealing the win for the Rams.
I had given the Rams ZERO chance of winning this game due to the fact that UNH had been playing better ball, and was coming off its first defeat in six years to an FBS team. But I had forgotten that regardless how far apart the teams were in ability, the Rams always played the Cats tough. The Rams winning doesnít surprise me, itís how they did it that does. URI had 216 yards of net rushing to 59 for the Cats. Read that as a ďWOWĒ on offense, and a ďDOUBLE WOWĒ on defense. URI had only 88 yards in the air, and that too was a little surprising, because itís usually through the air where URI has had success. UNH had 284 net yards in passing, which wasnít surprising as UNH is a good passing team whereas URI does not defend the pass well. Another surprising stat is that UNH was flagged 11 times for 120 yards, highly uncharacteristic of UNH. Another surprise is that URI was able to sack Toman six times for a loss of 49 yds.
New Hampshire coach Sean McDonnell stated that the Wildcats will have to get better in blocking and on defense if the Cats are going to have success in this league. McDonnell would undoubtedly say his Cats have been tested, but he probably would not give his team a good score. Next up for the Cats is a home game with Lehigh.
Rhode Island coach Joe Trainer was pleased with his Ramsí effort, but he will be the first to say that while this is a step in the right direction, the Rams have not arrived yet. Trainer also was pleased with his defensive effort. URI is rewarded with a bye week, and a chance to get players healthy. URI passed this test with flying colors; letís see whether it can build momentum and string together several more wins.
On an 85-degree sunny afternoon in Richmond, Va., 8,700, a capacity crowd, came out to the inaugural game at E. Claire Robins Stadium to see the then No. 7 ranked Elon Phoenix play the then No. 9 ranked Richmond Spiders.
Elonís Walter Payton Award candidate, Sr., QB, Scott Riddle (Ramseur, N.C.) took his team on the opening drive 80 yards in eight plays, throwing a 16-yard TD pass to So., WR, Aaron Mellette(Sanford, N.C.). Of the eight plays, Riddle was 7-for-7 on pass plays. The Phoenix had an early 7 Ė 0 lead.
On URís first offensive possession, facing a third-and-seven, the ball was snapped past Rs. Jr. QB, Aaron Corp (Villa Park, Calif.) with Elon recovering. Elonís drive stalled and it tried a 27-yard field goal, but it missed wide left. The Spiders next offensive series failed to produce a first down, and they had to punt. Riddle took the Phoenix 34 yards in nine plays and was having his way through the air until he was intercepted at the UR 25.
As the first quarter came to an end, UR finally mounted a drive that had success. Corp took his team 75 yards in 10 plays and hit Rs., Sr.,WR, Kevin Grayson (Richmond, Va.) with a 5-yard TD pass. This tied the score at 7 Ė 7.
Elon and Scott Riddle did not flinch. Riddle drove his team on the ensuing kickoff 67 yards in nine plays, hitting Jr. RB, A.J. Harris (Ocean View, N.J.) with a 6-yard TD pass, pushing the Phoenix lead back up to 14 Ė 7.
It was the Spidersí turn. On the next UR series, Corp drove his team 83 yards in 18 plays, finishing up with a 2-yard TD run by Jr. RB, Garrett Wilkins (Oviedo, Fla.). The score was tied again this time at 14, and this was the score at halftime. Neither team scored in the third quarter as Elon punted twice and UR turned the ball over twice on interceptions.
With 7:41 left to go, UR mounted a drive that went 76 yards in 18 plays and took six minutes off the clock, finishing with an 8-yard TD run by So, FB, Kendall Gaskins (Burlington, N.J.) to give the Spiders their first lead, 21 Ė 14. However, there was 1:41 left on the clock, and that was all that Riddle needed to take his team the length of the field and knot the score with a 25-yard TD pass to Mellette.
The game went into overtime with Elon getting the ball first and settling for a 37-yard field goal. But the kick was blocked by Rs., Sr. DL, Casey Cooley (McKinney, Texas). When it was URís turn, it turned to Rs, Sr. RB, Tyler Kirchoff (Ridgefield, Conn.), who ran the ball twice. First for nine yards, then the second run for the remaining 16 yards and the TD that proved to be the final margin of victory at 27 Ė 21.
The stats were pretty even for both teams. Elon had a slight edge in total offense with 392 compared with URís 381, but the Phoenix also had more penalties 11 for 92 yards vs. URís seven for 75 yards. Most of the damage was done through the air as neither team had a runner go more than 34 net yards rushing. Scott Riddle was 34-55-1, 319 yds and 3 TDs. Aaron Corp was 19-32-0, 207 yards and one TD. For Elon, Aaron Mellette had 18 receptions, 195 yards, 2 TDs. For the Spiders, Tre Gray had six receptions for 73 yards. UR had a big advantage in time of possession, 35 minutes to 24, and UR was 11-of-20 in 3rd/4th down conversions. The two missed FGs probably hurt Elon the most.
I did not think UR had enough coming back to overtake a Top 10 ranked opponent such as Elon. I was wrong. The Spiders stepped up to the test of facing a top-ranked opponent and will do so again as they host the Blue Hens from Delaware Saturday. [Photos by Scott Brown]
At Villanova Stadium, 12,111 came out to see the Villanova Wildcats host the Towson Tigers on Parentsí Weekend. Also on this day, the 2009 national championship team was honored. Fans, alumni, family and friends would not be disappointed as the Wildcats would route the Tigers 43 Ė 7. While the Tigers are improving, theyíre still a couple of years away from being competitive with the likes of the No. 1 team in the nation.
For the Wildcats, Sr. QB, Chris Whitney (Warminster, Pa.) scored twice on runs of nine and one yard. Rs., Sr., RB, Aaron Ball (Los Angeles, Calif.) scored on a 57-yard run. So., WR, Dorian Wells (West Covina, Calif.) scored twice on passes. The first, a 44-yard TD pass from Sr. WR, Matt Szczur (Erma, N.J.) out of the ďWildcat,Ē and the latter, a 22-yard TD pass from Whitney as he bought time with his feet scrambling in and out of the pocket until he found a wide open Wells. Rs., Sr. RB, Angelo Babbaro (Canfield, Ohio) scored on a 17-yard TD pass from Whitney in the left flat, and Babbaro just outraced the Tiger defenders to the end zone.
Villanovaís defense was dominant. At the end of the first quarter, TU had -1 yards rushing, and a total of five net offensive yards in 13 plays. Nova had 75 total yards in the first quarter (45 rushing, 30 passing). The score was 9 Ė 0 Nova and the Cats had a 6 Ė 1 advantage in first downs.
By halftime, TU had 16 net yards rushing and 19 passing for a total of 35, two first downs and trailed 36- 0. Nova had 122 net yards rushing and 159 net yards passing for a total of 281.
At the end of the game, Nova had 405 total yards on offense where TU had 180 (17 rushing, 163 passing). TU did get on the board as graduate QB Bart Blanchard (Rock Hill, S.C.) hit Sr., WR, Hakeem Moore (Fredricksburg, Va.) on a 59-yard TD pass to conclude the scoring.
Ball led Nova in rushing with eight carries for 100 yards. Whitney was 9-for-12, for 115 yds and 2 TDs. Wells caught four passes for 75 yds and two TDs. Defensively, Jr. LB, Jeremy Rodriguez (Laureldale, Pa.) led the team with seven tackles.
For the Tigers, Blanchard was 12-for-16, 144 yds and one TD. Moore had three catches for 73 yards, and So., S, Jordan Dangerfield (Royal Palm Beach, Fla.) and So, DE, Frank Beltre (Randolph, N.J.) led the Tigers in tackles with seven each.
As Talley said, this Wildcat defense has yet to be tested, but up next for the Cats are those Quakers from UPenn. [Photos by Marlene Walters]
GAME PREVIEWS ź ź
Last week I was 5 Ė 2 with my picks. A VERY BIG CONGRATS TO URI & UR on proving me wrong. To date, Iím 18 Ė 7 with a 72 percent accuracy rate. I seem to be stuck at that rate, Iíll try and improve this week.
Towson (0 Ė 1, 1 Ė 2) @ Columbia (0 Ė 0, 0 Ė 1) @ 12:30 p.m.
Series: Columbia leads 2 Ė 1
In this short series, the home team has won each game. The Lions lost their season opener last week to Fordham 16 Ė 9. The Tigers lost their conference opener to the No. 1 team in the country. Look for the Tigers to take some revenge of that Villanova beating out on the non-scholly, Ivy league Lions. If Columbia could do something offensively, this game might be interesting as TU has not shown it can stop anyone yet.
Upset Meter [---5---] Towson Tigers 21, Columbia Lions 17.
Lehigh (0 Ė 0, 2 Ė 1) @ No. 16/ 18 New Hampshire ( 0 Ė 1, 1 Ė 2 ) @ Noon
Series: UNH leads 9 Ė 2
The second time in three weeks the Mountain Hawks will face the Wildcats from the CAA. Only this time it will be the northern Cats from New Hampshire. The Cats will look to regroup and play New Hampshire ball. It will begin with blocking up front and establishing a run game, then protecting the QB. Defensively, the Wildcats will look to execute proper tackling technique. The Moutain Hawks will claw and fight and do whatever they can to stay competitive, but theyíre in way over their heads in this matchup.
Upset Meter [0---] New Hampshire Wildcats 27, Lehigh 7.
No. 11/ No. 9 Massachusetts (1 Ė 0, 2 Ė 1) @ Stony Brook (0 Ė 0, 1 Ė 2) @ 6 p.m.
Series: UMass leads 2 Ė 0
Both teams have a combined seven players from the 2009 Hofstra football team. UMass ranks eighth in the country in total offense with an average of 467.3 ypg. The Minutemen average 221.3 rushing ypg. Stony Brook is averaging 371.7 total offense and 231 rushing average. In 2006, UMass won 48 Ė 7, and in 2009, UMass won 44 Ė 17. UMass is scoring 31.7 ppg whereas Stony Brook is scoring 25 ppg. If the Minutemen can continue to keep their penalties to six or less, they should win this going away. However, if the Minutemen revert to their old ways and commit double-digit penalties or look past Stony Brook, this game could end up being closer than expected.
Upset Meter [--3--] Massachusetts Minutemen 31, Stony Brook 21.
No. 8/ No. 8 William & Mary (0 Ė 1, 2 Ė 1) @ Maine (0 Ė 0, 1 Ė 2) @ 6 p.m.
Series: William & Mary leads 6 Ė 3
A second conference test for the Tribe, the first conference test for the Black Bears. Two teams with high expectations coming into the season. Two teams struggling to find wins. Coach Laycock is plugging holes trying to keep the Tribe season together. Coach Cosgrove is doing his best to try and get more out of his players. However, after this week, the first quarter of the season would have passed. This is a pivotal test for both teams as the loser will have a tougher road in trying to make the playoffs. The Tribe is showing weaknesses on defense. Maine has not shown that it can string together consecutive offensive drives for scores. The Tribeís strength is their offense, but they will be going against the strength of the Black Bears, their defense. Winning on the road is always tough in the CAA.
Upset meter (---9) Maine Black Bears 27, William & Mary Tribe 24.
No. 7/ No. 6 Delaware (0 Ė 0, 3 Ė 0) @ No. 5/ No. 5 Richmond (0 Ė 0, 1 Ė 1) @ 3:30 p.m.
Series: Delaware leads 18 Ė 8.
First you have the battle of the QBs. Richmondís Aaron Corp vs. Delawareís Pat Devlin. Devlin is coming off an injury to his left (non-throwing hand) that kept him out of last weekís game, and it might limit him from taking snaps directly from under center. If this is the case, advantage Corp. ź
Next the UD OL vs the UR defensive front seven. Here you have strength against strength. UDís developed a potent running game behind its OL with freshman RB Andrew Pierce. However, it has not seen a defense quite the stature of UR. If UD can keep the UR passs rush off Devlin, and the word is that UR doesnít have much of a pass rush, Devlin might be able to find the same success that Scott Riddle did. You wouldnít characterize UDís defense as fast, but its secondary is opportunistic. Without much of a running game, you might see UR put the ball in the air more than expected. Not much of a home-field advantage as the capacity is 8,700 with 1,000 tickets given as an allotment to the visiting school. That leaves 7,700 divided on both sides of the field, separated by a track.
Upset Meter [---9] Richmond Spiders 23, Delaware Blue Hens 21.
No. 22/ No. 21 Liberty (0 Ė 0, 2 Ė 1) @ No. 3/ No. 3 James Madison (0-0, 2- 0) @ 6 p.m.
Series: JMU leads 10 Ė 5
The Flames are looking for respect. Before falling to Robert Morris, the Flames were flying high. They had an FBS win to their credit, and the knowledge that if they win their conference, they would get an autobid into the playoffs. Plus a victory against in-state rival would go a long way with the selection committee. JMU, too, was feeling good about itself as it rode into Blacksburg and upset then FBS-ranked No. 13 Virginia Tech.
JMU ss ranked ninth in the country in total defense allowing only 257 ypg in two games, whereas Liberty is 37th, allowing 324 ypg. Liberty is ninth nationally in total offense, averaging 466.33 ypg. JMU is 59th @ 359 ypg. ź
This game will be a good test for both teams, but JMUís team speed will not be denied. The Dukes will limit the Flames offensively and walk away with the win.
Upset Meter [----7---] James Madison Dukes 28, Liberty Flames 17.
No. 24/RV Penn (0 Ė 0, 1 Ė 0) @ No. 1/No. 2 Villanova (1 Ė 0, 2 Ė 1) @ 7 p.m.
Series: Nova leads 9 Ė 5
UPenn is favored to win the Ivy League and it always plays the Cats tough. However, with the Cats sitting on one loss, and having had an opportunity to see the Quakers play Lafayette, the Wildcats should put this one away early. Look for UPenn to be motivated, and inspired, but just not talented enough to run with Wiildcats. This would be another early test for the Cats as they prepare for conference play. Will it be enough? Upset Meter [0-----] Nova 35, Quakers 16.
I want to thank JMU fans, Bob Brown, Richmond Alum and William Webb for your e-mails this week. Good luck this weekend.
As always you can e-mail your thoughts and comments to CAATODAY@YAHOO.COM. This is the CAA TODAY signing off.