CAA Today Columnist
To all of you loyal readers of my column, let me apologize for not submitting one last week.
Two weeks ago, I injured my lower back removing window air conditioners rendering me useless for the rest of the week. My primary doctor tells me I'm too old to be doing such labor.
However, after consuming anti-inflammatories, muscle relaxants and pain pills I'm back in the saddle. Hopefully, the following will be worth the wait.
The "team win" concept came from my observations from the games played Oct. 2. I saw nothing last weekend to inspire me to change the theme. I will briefly recap the games played Oct. 2, and move onto the games played last Saturday.
In team sports, all coaches tell their players "We win as a team, we lose as a team."
All coaches try and instruct all facets of their respective team to accomplish that goal of winning. Each coach knows that a team is as strong as its weakest link. Thus, in the preparation for its upcoming contest, that coach will try and emphasize a teamís strengths and try to minimize the exposure to its specific weaknesses.
In the end, when the team wins or loses, it does so as a team.
After Massachusetts beat Stony Brook this season, UMass coach Kevin Morris referred to his team's victory as a "team win." On that weekend without a doubt every CAA game played and won was done so by a complete TEAM performance.
Oct. 2 Game Recaps
Rhode Island 27, Brown 24 (OT)
At the Governor's Bowl in Rhode Island, 7,622 fans came out to Meade Stadium to see the Rhode Island Rams host the Brown Bears. This was the best Meade Stadium crowd in 10 years.
As this game was for in-state bragging rights, it was closely contested. Every time the Rams would take the lead, Brown would battle back and tie the score.
Knotted at 21-21 at the end of regulation, the Bears would score first with a 34-yard field goal in OT, but Rhody answered with a 25-yard TD run by Jr. QB, Steve Probst (N. Massapequa, N.Y.) to give the Rams a 27-24 overtime triumph.
Ram coach Joe Trainer couldn't say enough positive things about his football team and how it's coming together. Trainer likes the growth and development that heís seeing at every level on the Rams squad.
Maine 16, New Hampshire 13 (OT)
In Orono Maine, 6,531 came out to Alfond Stadium to witness the Maine Black Bears battle the New Hampshire Wildcats for the Brice-Cowell Musket.
Maine won in overtime, 16-13. The Wildcats had a chance to win in the closing seconds of regulation, but Black Bear sophomore defensive lineman Brent Rice (Jersey City, N.J.) blocked a field-goal attempt.
In overtime, Maine junior strong safety Jerron McMillian (Hillside, N.J.) intercepted a pass, thwarting the Cats' scoring attempt. Sophomore kicker Brian Harvey (Wayland, Mass.) made good on a game-winning 37-yard field goal to give the Black Bears the victory.
Maine coach Jack Cosgrove was appreciative of his team's effort and at the time felt good about going to Newark, Del., to face the Blue Hens the following Saturday.
Richmond 41, Coastal Carolina 19
In the first meeting of the Richmond Spiders and Coastal Carolina Chanticleers, 8,464 fans came out to see the Spiders dominate Coastal 41-19.
The Spiders had 360 yards of total offense and forced four turnovers. Richmond coach Latrell Scott was quoted as saying the Spiders "are still a work in progress," but he was pleased.
Massachusetts 27, Towson 14
At Johnny Unitas Stadium, 5,560 saw the Towson Tigers host No. 8 Massachusetts Minutemen.
While the game was close in the first half, a strong UMass defensive effort shut the Tigers out in the second half. The defense was complemented by the strong Minuteman rushing and passing attack, which led the team to a 27-14 victory.
UMass had 385 total yards of offense (191 rushing and 194 passing), and its defense limited Towson to just 263 total yards of offense. When asked how he felt about his team, UMass' Morris said he was pleased his team was 4-1 heading into its bye week.
Delaware 13, James Madison 10
At Bridgeforth Stadium, 16,205 came out to see the No. 5 Delaware Blue Hens take on the No. 3 James Madison Dukes in Harrisonburg, Va.
When I viewed these teams during the preseason, I thought that the Dukes' defense could slow down the Hen offense, and I picked the Dukes to win. I also was critical of the Blue Hen defense.
Well, here we are five games into the season and after their 13-10 victory over the Dukes, the Blue Hens were 5-0.
The Dukes defense was as good as billed, holding the high-flying Hen offense to 206 total yards of offense and 13 points.
However, after losing their starting QB early in the game, the Hens recovered behind the play of redshirt freshman quarterback Trevor Sasek (Limerick, Pa.), the leg of junior place kicker, Mike Perry (Thorofare, N.J.), and their dominant defense held JMU to 283 yards of total offense while shutting the Dukes out in the second half.
The Hens won on all facets of the game, offense, defense and special teams. The Blue Hen coaching staff is to be congratulated on a fine job of preparation and in game adjustments.
William & Mary 31, Villanova 24
In Williamsburg it was family weekend and a sold-out crowd (12,259) came out to Zable Stadium to watch the seventh-ranked William & Mary Tribe host the No. 1 Villanova Wildcats.
The Tribe completely manhandled the Wildcats in all phases, winning 31-24. The Tribe had jumped out to a 21-0 lead midway through the second quarter and was up 31-10 late in the third quarter before 'Nova rallied to make the score close.
It would be easy to say that sophomore linebacker Dante Cook's (Fredericksburg, Va.) 84-yard interception return for a TD, with the Wildcats threatening, was the dagger in Nova's heart, but that would be unfair to the job done by the Tribe's offensive and defensive lines.
William & Mary's lines mauled the Cats offensive and defensive fronts all day, making it difficult for the Cats to run and opening holes for the Tribe RBs. The Tribe o-line provided junior quarterback Michael Paulus (Syracuse, N.Y.) with enough time to throw.
In his post-game news conference, Tribe coach Jimmye Laycock stated this was the first time all year he received a complete game from the entire team.
As I roamed the Tribe sidelines in the third and fourth quarters, I could hear the players reminding one another that it was a 60-minute game and to stay focused. William & Mary did so and emerged from Zable Stadium with a "team win."
Oct. 9 Game Recaps
New Hampshire 17, Richmond 0
It was Homecoming in Durham, N.H., as 12,095 came out to Cowell Stadium to see New Hampshire Wildcats host the Richmond Spiders. It is safe to say that the Wildcats play their best at home and sitting on an 11-game win streak confirms that.
In the Spiders' first offensive series, they lost quarterback Aaron Corp (Villa Park, Calif.) to a knee injury.
Corp was passing as his leg was rolled over, and the pass was intercepted by John Greer (Buffalo, N.Y.), who ran it back 40 yards for the game's first TD giving the Cats a 7-0 lead. Greer was named CAA Defensive Player of the Week.
Later in the week, UR confirmed Corp is out for the season.
The Spider defense held the Cats to just 64 yards in the first half. UNH finished with 66 yards rushing.
But in the third quarter, senior quarterback R.J. Toman (Mission Viejo, Calif.) drove the team 61 yards in six plays culminating in a 20-yard TD pass to receiver Joey Orlando (Bethlehem, Pa.) to give the Cats a 14-0 lead. Toman was 20-of-29 for 166 yards.
With a little more than two minutes remaining in the third quarter, following a second Greer interception, UNH kicker Mike MacArthur (North Hampton, N.H.) connected on a 34-yard field goal to give the Cats a 17-0 lead.
If you've been to Cowell Stadium, you know a strong wind often makes it difficult to pass or kick for two quarters.
Due to injuries to their starting and backup quarterbacks, the Spiders were forced to play their third-string quarterback, who also doubles as punter, sophomore Nick Hicks (Marietta, Ga.).
The Wildcat defense intercepted six passes and recovered a fumble. The Spiders had 14 offensive possessions and the longest drive was just 38 yards. The Spiders were 4-of-14 on third-down efficiency.
UNH coach Sean McDonnell was pleased with his teamís defensive efforts, but he believes it has to do a better job offensively. It has to protect the ball, too.
For the Spiders, senior defensive tackle Martin Parker (New Haven, Conn.) led the team with 12 tackles. On offense, running back Tyler Kirchoff (Ridgefield, Conn.) led the rushing attack with 108 yards.
Coach Scott said that despite the injuries, his team is upbeat. The Richmond coaching staff will determine during the week what its quarterback options are as it prepares for UMass.
James Madison 17, Towson 13
It was family weekend and 9,049 came out to Johnny Unitas Stadium to watch the host Towson Tigers take on the No. 7 James Madison Dukes.
The Tigers were playing their third top 10 FCS team in four weeks. The Tigers got on the board first with a 23-yard field goal by Nick Wallace (Fredericksburg, Va.).
JMU led by quarterback Drew Dudzik (Clifton, Va.) came back with a two-play, 68-yard drive for a TD. Dudzik scrambled for 24 yards ending on the Tigers 44 and then connected on a 44-yard TD pass with redshirt freshman receiver DaeíQuan Scott (Staunton, Va.) to give the Dukes a 7-3 advantage.
On JMU's next possession, aided by a Towson personal foul, Dudzik was able to score from the one to give the Dukes a 14-3 lead as the first quarter expired. On the day, Dudzik was 12-of-22 for 136 yards passing with the one TD and one interception. He rushed six times for 31 yards.
The Tigers rallied and closed the scoring to 14-13 midway through the third quarter with a 21-yard TD run by running back Dominique Booker (Richmond, Va.) and a 38-yard field goal by Wallace.
However, that would be as close as they got as JMU used a 17-play, 94-yard drive that consumed over seven minutes and concluded with a 21-yard field goal by Ben Hopewell (Waynesboro, Va.) to give the Dukes a 17-13 lead.
On their final possession, the Tigers reached the JMU 24, but on fourth and nine, quarterback Chris Hart's (Bradenton, Fla.) pass fell incomplete, and the Dukes ran out the clock.
Tiger coach Rob Ambrose was pleased with the turnout. He has also been pleased with the progress of his team, but he admitted the Tigers are an ocean away from being good. Towson has a bye before preparing for its Oct. 23 date with Richmond.
JMU coach Mickey Matthews was pleased with his team's win, but he was frustrated with its offensive inconsistency. Next up for the Dukes is a home date with the New Hampshire Wildcats.
William & Mary 26, Rhode Island 7
In Williamsburg, 8,196 came out to watch William & Mary take on the visiting Rhode Island Rams. With a bunch of new faces on both sides of the ball, the Tribe extended their winning streak to five straight games and have won nine consecutive home game after downing the Rams 26-7.
Coach Laycock discussed how the injuries have effected his team and how happy he was with the overall play despite the injuries.
Laycock said he likes the way his defense is coming along and having extra bodies rotate in on the offensive line also is paying dividends. The Tribe was plus-3 in turnovers and had a 17-minute advantage in time of possession.
Tribe QB Paulus was 21-of-31 for 193 yards and one TD. The Tribe had 370 yards of total offense, and the defense limited URI to 233 total yards of offense.
On defense, William & Mary was led by Cook who had 12 tackles and one forced fumble. The Tribe has a bye this weekend and look to get healthy as they begin preparation for the Delaware Blue Hens.
Rams quarterback Probst, was 13-of-22 for 116 yards with one interception, and running back Ayo Isijola (Brooklyn, N.Y.) led the team in rushing as he carried 15 times for 56 yards and one TD.
The Rams were paced on defense by linebacker Matt Hansen (Providence, R.I.) with 20 tackles. The Rams will travel to Newark, Del., to take on the No. 2-ranked Blue Hens Saturday.
Delaware 26, Maine 7
In Newark, Del., 19,523 came out to see the Delaware Blue Hens host the Maine Black Bears.
In his Monday morning teleconference call, Maine coach Jack Cosgrove said that going into the game with Delaware, the Black Bears were the No. 1-ranked team in third-down defense and Delaware was the No. 1-ranked team in third-down offense.
In this game, Delaware converted 8-of-17 third downs for a 47 percent conversion rate. In the CAA, Delaware stands alone at the top with a league-leading 45.7 percent third-down conversion rate.
Where Maine is good in its run defense, it's not so good in defending the pass. The Blue Hens spread Maine out and attacked through the air for 283 net yards passing and one TD.
The Black Bears also were their own worst enemy as they had three turnovers that led to Blue Hen scores.
Delaware won 26-7, but UD coach K.C. Keeler was not satisfied. Keeler was unhappy with the number of dropped passes by his receivers and the fact that his team left points out on the field.
Keeler was pleased with the passing and running of the offense by quarterback Pat Devlin (Downingtown, Pa.), who was 20-of-36-0 for 283 yds and one TD. Freshman RB Andrew Pierce (Bridgeton, N.J.) carried 26 times for 96 yards and scored a touchdown.
Senior punter Ed Wagner (Barto, Pa.) had three punts for 125 yards, the longest a 52-yarder, and he pinned the Black Bears inside the 20 on all three kicks. Every area of the defense played well, smothering the Maine offense and allowing only 237 yards. Devlin, Pierce and Wagner were all CAA Players of the Week.
At 6-0, the Blue Machine known as the Blue Hens chugs along taking on all who would stand before them.
For the games on Oct. 2, I was 3-3, bringing my mark to 25-13 (52 percent accuracy). At this rate, I'll be as accurate as the northeast weathermen.
Last week, I would have been 3-1 had I gone with my preseason picks, but because I was unable to submit a column, I won't use those numbers.
I truly believe that this year, on any given Saturday, every team that takes the field has a chance to win. Some teams appear dominant at times, and with the exception of Delaware, I have not witnessed one team that has been consistently dominant.
UMass would be a close second, and those two will get a chance to face each other shortly. Before we get to that game, let's discuss this weekend's games.
No. 20 Richmond (2-3, 0-2) at No. 8 Massachusetts (4-1, 2-0), 3:30 p.m.
TV: CBS 3 Now Streaming Video, Audio & Gametracker: UMassAthletics.com
Series: Massachusetts leads 13-11
In Amherst, the Minuteman will be coming off of their bye week and celebrating their homecoming. Saturday's game also will feature a tribute to George N. Parks, director of the Massachusetts Minutemen Marching Band, who passed away last month.
UMass is enjoying a two-game win streak, both on the road, and also is undefeated at home this year. The Minutemen have won 26 of their last 29 games at home. The last 10 games between the two teams have been split evenly. UR won last year in Richmond 32-14.
The Spiders lost last week at New Hampshire facing the elements at Cowell Stadium, and losing their starting quarterback early in the game. Richmond was forced to go to its third-string QB as the backup had been previously injured.
The coaching staff will only have this week to prepare Hicks and the young Spider offense to go against the opportunistic Minutemen defense. UMass is ranked fourth in the CAA in red zone defense.
The early weather forecast calls for high wind and mostly cloudy skies, with a high of 60. Not too different from what Durham, N.H., was last week.
Having seen UMass in person and UR on TV, it is the opinion of this writer that the Minutemen will wear down the UR defense in the second half. UR will need to establish a running game and eat a lot of clock to protect its defense. UMass leads the CAA in time of possession.
Upset Meter  Minuteman 31, Spiders 13.
No. 15 New Hampshire (3-3, 1-2) at No. 7 James Madison (4-1. 1-1), 3:30 p.m.
Series: James Madison leads 7 ñ 5.
The last time these teams met was in 2007 in Harrisonburg, where JMU won 41-24. The last time UNH beat a JMU squad was in 2003, 20-17.
UNH is 0-3 on the road this year. When UNH wins the turnover battle, it's 2-0. When it loses the turnover battle, it's 0-2. When UNH scores first, it's 3-0. When its opponent scores first, it's 0-3.
UNH leads the CAA in passing offense, but is dead last in rushing offense. In total offense, UNH is third in the CAA. UNH is seventh in rushing defense, allowing 139 yards per game, and third in pass defense, allowing 148 yards. In total defense, UNH ranks fourth allowing a 287-yard average.
JMU is third in the CAA in rushing offense (191 ypg), but is dead last in the CAA in pass offense, averaging 129 yards.
The bright spot has been JMU's defense, which is second in the CAA in scoring, allowing only 10 points per game. JMU leads the CAA in pass defense, yielding just 128 yards. JMU ranks second in total defense allowing only 240 yards.
The real question is which JMU offense will show up on Saturday? The offense that looked magnificent against Virginia Tech or the offense that struggled the last three weeks.
It really would not surprise this writer if the game ended in a 0-0 tie, but I think UNH will find a way to put points on the board.
Upset Meter  Wildcats 20, Dukes 17
No. 6 Villanova (3-2, 1-1) at Maine (2-4, 1-2), Noon
TV: CSN-NE, CSN-P
Series: Maine leads 7-6
It will be homecoming in Orono for the Maine Black Bears, but the early forecast calls for a 60 percent chance of rain and a high of just 55 degrees.
The last time these two teams met was in 2007, where Nova won in overtime, 24-17 on the Main Line. Maine last won in 2006 in Orono 20-7.
Maine enjoys a 5-1 record against Nova in Orono. A Maine win would give the Black Bears its fifth win in the last six games against Nova, and fifth straight win at home. Four of the last five games in this series have been decided by seven points or less.
Maine is 10-4 in its last 14 home games dating to 2007, and is 1-2 at home this year. Maine's o-line averages 6-4, 288, whereas Nova's d-line checks in at 6-3, 286. Maine's d-line averages 6-2, 254 whereas Nova's o-line averages 6-4, 316. Based on size alone, Nova would appear to have the advantage in the trenches.
However, Wildcat coach Andy Talley said his team is still depleted by injuries. Most notable is CAA offensive player of the year, senior all-purpose back Matt Szczur (Erma, N.J.), who is questionable with a high ankle sprain for Saturday.
Several players on both sides of the ball have suffered ankle and knee injuries, Talley said. As of Monday, Talley said he believes that his team might just be an average team.
What a difference a year makes. In 2009, Villanova went through the season virtually unscathed by injuries. This year, the Wildcats have taken their lumps so far. Nova is first in the CAA in scoring offense, fourth in total offense and third in total defense.
Maine was picked by the CAA coaches to come in seventh in the 10-team CAA. If it loses this game, it will be eliminated from playoff consideration and probably finish somewhere near their preseason pick.
If Nova loses, it will probably drop from its top-10 national ranking, one it's held for 30 weeks and place it in desperation mode of needing to win out to defend its national title.
Even in their weakened state, the Cats have just a little too much experience and strength to fall to the Black Bears.
Upset Meter  Wildcats 27-Black Bears 13.
Rhode Island (2-3, 1-1) at No. 2 Delaware (6-0, 3-0) at 3:30 p.m.
Series: Delaware leads 18-7
The last time these teams met was in 2007, with the Blue Hens winning 38-9 at Delaware Stadium. URI last won in 2002, 17-14 in overtime in Kingston, R.I.
The Rams are 0-3 on the road this season and lost their first conference game last week at William & Mary. URI QB Probst is the only signal-caller in the CAA to throw for 700 yards and rush for more than 200 yards this season. Probst also has scored four rushing TDs.
As a team, URI is ninth in scoring offense and scoring defense. URI is 10th in both total offense and total defense.
On the other hand, Delaware has won the last three meetings in the series by an average of 27 points per game. The Blue Hens are 11-3 all time against the Rams at Delaware Stadium.
UD is fourth in scoring offense (26 points per game) and first in scoring defense (6 ppg). The Blue Hens are second in total offense (390 ypg) and first in total defense (240 ypg).
It's family weekend at Delaware, and the early forecast calls for it to be windy with a high of 62 degrees. With a win, UD will be one game closer to knowing it's in the playoffs.
Upset Meter  Blue Hens 37 Rams 14.
Thank you to all who wrote inquiring about the column. I promise to leave the heavy lifting to those a lot younger than me.
As always you can e-mail your thoughts and comments to CAATODAY@YAHOO.COM
This is the CAA TODAY signing off.