Strong defensive plays has been the key to success for the CAA's top teams
By Terence Thomas
CAA Today Columnist
In last week's column, I noted how each of the winners had a defensive stand that put an exclamation point to their win.
This week, while still keeping an eye on the playoff race, I want to help all of you realize just how truly important it is to have a good defense, and how it's by the virtue of having a good defense, teams find themselves with winning records and the potential for a championship team.
In the Monday morning coaches teleconference call, CAA Assistant Commissioner for Football, Scott Meyer asked Villanova coach Andy Talley to speak about how the top five scoring defenses in the CAA also are five of the top nine scoring defenses in the country.
Talley replied by using the borrowed phrase "Offense fills the seats, but defense wins championships."
As I recap last weekend's games and predict the outcomes of games this weekend, Iíll share with you my observations of the defenses in the nationís best FCS conference.
TEAM CAA OVERALL
Delaware 4-1 7-1
Villanova 4-1 6-2
William & Mary 4-1 6-2
Massachusetts 3-2 5-3
New Hampshire 3-2 5-3
Richmond 2-3 4-4
Maine 2-3 3-5
Rhode Island 2-3 3-5
James Madison 1-4 4-4
Towson 0-5 1-7
The teams remain the same with Delaware, William & Mary and Villanova seemingly headed to the playoffs. With three games remaining, all three need to win two to reach eight FCS victories.
As I stated last week, I would agree that all three teams deserve to get in if they only have seven FCS wins, but I'm not on the NCAA selection committee, nor do I think any of these teams want to leave anything to chance.
On The Bubble
This group has not changed from last week either, but after this weekend, it will be reduced by at least one team. Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Richmond and James Madison continue to be bubble teams as long as they are mathematically alive (the chance to get to seven FCS wins).
However, time is running short. UMass and UNH need to win at least two of their last three to have a shot at the playoffs, and UR and JMU must win out. Because UR and JMU play each other this weekend, the loser will slide to the contenders no more group.
Contenders No More
The Black Bears, Rams and Tigers continue to play the role of spoiler and continue to educate their young players on what it takes to win in the CAA.
Rhode Island 30, Towson 20
It was Homecoming at Johnny Unitas Stadium and 6,589 fans came out to attend the Towson Tigers vs. Rhode Island Rams contest last Saturday.
Both teams are known more for their offensive exploits than their defense, but it was Rhode Island's defense that forced four Tiger turnovers earning the Rams a 30-20 triumph.
The Tigers entered this game 10th in the CAA in rushing defense allowing an average of 201 yards per game. The Tigers held URI to 74 net yards rushing.
URI entered the contest seventh in the CAA in rushing offense averaging 144 yards per game.
TU was eighth in the CAA in total defense, allowing an average of 360 yards per game. Yet it held URI to 256 yards of total offense.URI was seventh in the CAA in total offense, averaging 314 yards a game, but the Tigers held the Rams below their average by 58 yards.
The Tigers gained 378 total yards on offense and basically dominated every statistic but two. URI was plus-three in the turnover ratio and won by 10.
The Tigers' defense did its job as freshman LB, Kyle Polk (Piscataway,N.J.) was honored by the CAA as rookie of the week. Polk had 13 tackles, two sacks, three tackles for a loss and a pass break up. But the usually reliable offense did not hold up its end.
Rhode Island was led defensively by safety Chris Edmonds (Freeport, N.Y.) and linebacker Matt Hansen (Providence, R.I.) with nine tackles each as the Rams' defense stood up when it counted.
Both coaches were pleased with the level of improvement in their respective teams. They know that the situation can only get better.
Up next for the Rams is a home game against the defending national champions, Villanova Wildcats. The Tigers travel to Newark, De., to take on the Blue Hens.
Massachusetts 21, James Madison 14
In Harrisonburg, Va., 16,664 ventured into Bridgeforth Stadium to see the James Madison Dukes host the Massachusetts Minuteman.
Scott Meyer had posed the same question to JMU coach Mickey Matthews that he posed to Talley regarding the CAA and the strength of the defenses throughout the conference. Matthews replied by saying "You can't punt on defense." The translation being, you have to be sound on defense as the defense has no one else to bail it out.
The Dukes have been battling the injury bug on all sides of the ball this season, particularly on defense. Yet despite their injury woes, the Dukes came into this game second in the CAA in scoring defense (13.4 ppg) and second in total defense (280.7 ypg). They would need to be good as they were facing the Minutemen who were first in the CAA in total offense (420.9 ypg).
UMass put the Duke defense to the test early as it took the opening kickoff and marched 60 yards in eight plays. On that drive, UMass QB Kyle Havens (Concord, Calif.) passed only twice and completed one to WR Dan Sheeran (Golden Bridges, N.Y.) for 18 yards.
UMass Jr., RB, Jonathan Hernandez (Leominster, Mass.) rushed three times for 38 yards and Sr. RB John Griffen rushed once for two yards. The drive stalled on JMU's 15, and Blacksburg native So. P/K, Caleb Violette came in and hit a 33-yard field goal to give the Minutemen a 3-0 lead. Violette also was named CAA special teams player of the week.
After UMass forced JMU to punt after three plays, the Minutemen again put the Duke defense to the test, this time driving 61 yards in nine plays. With first and goal at the JMU seven, UMass tried three successive running plays by Hernandez, but the Dukes denied its scoring attempts. On fourth down, Havens' pass fell incomplete. Neither team would score in the remainder of the quarter.
With 12 minutes left in the half and on their fourth offensive series of the game, the Dukes put together a 10-play,70-yard drive that consisted of eight running plays by QB Drew Dudzik (Cllifton, Va.) and RB Jamaal Sullivan (Ruther Glenn, Va.) with Sullivan running it in from eight yards out to give the Dukes a 7-3 lead.
The Duke defense held UMass to one first down and forced another punt before putting together another 11-play, 97-yard drive that ate up 4:15. Dudzik was 4-of-5 passing for 79 of those yards, and Sullivan ran it in from two yards out giving the Dukes a 14-3 lead.
That was your halftime score and the Dukes would not score again.
UMass coach Kevin Morris was asked in the Monday morning teleconference what halftime adjustments did his team make to stop that JMU running game. He replied that it came down to his players fulfilling their assignments and remembering which gaps they're responsible for.
Defensively, the Minutemen were led by linebacker Tyler Holmes (Blacksburg, Va.) with 14 tackles and one sack. Holmes was named defensive player of the week by the CAA.
Just like the beginning of the game, UMass' opening drive of the second half led to a Violette 25-yard field goal after a 14-play, 69-yard drive. This made the score 14-6 JMU.
Matthews also stated that he lost two defensive linemen in the first half and had to play two defensive ends at defensive tackle. Defensive ends are usually lighter in body weight and quicker than defensive tackles so they can get around the usually much larger offensive tackles.
Defensive tackles are usually more bulky and are used as run stoppers. They try to keep the offensive guards off of the linebackers. Matthews stated that in the second half, UMass just "smashed us down the field because we were so tiny."
UMass' defense stopped JMU's offense after one first down. With fourth and 13 at its 42, JMU punted 28 yards, and UMass WR/PR Anthony Nelson (Wellington, Fla.) returned the punt 53 yards to the JMU 17.
The UMass coaches were yelling "poison" to the UMass players so they would not get hit by the bouncing football. The UMass and Duke players stopped, but Nelson had other ideas as he fielded the ball and ran down the sideline before being caught at the 17.
Six plays later, Havens found WR Julian Talley (Winslow, N.J.) for a two-yard touchdown. Havens next found Sheeran for the two-point conversion that tied the game at 14 each.
The UMass defense would stop the Dukes again on their next drive after giving up only one first down. On the third drive of the second half, UMass drove 48 yards in seven plays as Havens found TE Andrew Krevis (Northbridge, Mass.) for a one-yard touchdown to give the Minutemen a 21-14 lead that wound up being the final score.
The Dukes drove 47 yards in 13 plays on their final drive, but it would stall at the UMass 30 as Dudzikís pass on fourth-and-20 fell incomplete.
JMU led in nearly every statistical category, first downs (19-16), net yards rushing (180-139), net yards passing (179-163), total offensive yards (359-302), possession time (32:10-27:50), third-down conversion (7/14-4/10).
Neither team had a turnover, JMU even had fewer penalties (3-for-24 yards vs. 4-for-35). UMass had more red zone opportunities (5), and made the most of it, scoring four times.
Later, Matthews was frustrated with his team's injuries and the loss, but he knows his team has to regroup as it heads to Richmond next week.
The Minutemen will host Maine next week as they look to keep their playoff hopes alive.
Villanova 28, Richmond 7
On a beautiful 53-degree fall Saturday afternoon, 6,317 fans came out to the Main Line to see the No. 5 Villanova Wildcats host the No. 14 Richmond Spiders.
Nova received the ball first and on its first play from scrimmage a pass intended for WR Norman White (Hammonton, N.J.) was nearly picked off by Richmond DE Brandon Scott (Dumfries, Va.).
Richmond coach Latrell Scott, responding to questions about his team's injuries, commented during the post-game press conference that if Brandon Scott wasn't wearing a cast on his hand, he could have intercepted and ran it back for a touchdown. Nova subsequently punted on that series.
The Wildcats were determined to stack the box and make the Spiders throw, and on their first play from scrimmage, QB Montel White (Surry County, Va.) attempted a pass to WR Tre Gray (Cuero, Texas) that fell incomplete.
Later in the drive, the Spiders also tried a pass by RB Jovan Smith (Springfield, Va.) to WR/DB Justin Rogers (Baton Rouge, La.) that was good for four yards. Ultimately, the Spiders ended up punting on that drive.
Villanova's second drive started at its 13. QB Chris Whitney (Warminster, Pa.) guided the team to the Spider 47.
On first and 10, a pass intended for WR Dorian Wells (West Covina, Calif.) was almost picked off by Richmond LB Eric McBride (Richmond, Va.). The ball went through McBride's hands who had a sure touchdown in front of him. Instead, the Wildcats' drive continued as Whitney raced up the middle for a 45-yard touchdown run.
Scott commented in his post-game speech that Whitney and Villanova did a good job with their offensive schemes and found scenarios in the Spiders' defense that could be exploited.
Whitney stated that he saw in preparation that when the Spiders were in man coverage, they left the middle open, and he took advantage of it. The drive in total was 10 plays, covering 87 yards, and gave Nova a 7-0 lead in the first quarter.
Nova's defense forced the Spiders to lose five yards on their next offensive series. Whitney next took the Wildcats 65 yards in five plays, connecting with White on a five-yard crossing pattern for the touchdown giving the Wildcats a 14-0 lead in the first quarter.
On the Spiders' subsequent drive, White managed to move the offense from their 31 to the Nova 1. Mixed in with rushing yardage, White completed two passes to Gray for 32 yards and another to WR Kevin Grayson (Richmond, Va.) for 19 yards that put the Spiders at the Nova 11.
The Spiders used three rushing plays to get to the Nova 1 with first and goal. The Spiders tried to use RB Kendall Gaskins (Burlington, N.J.) up the middle twice, but the Wildcat defense denied him both times.
In the press box, I mentioned to Spider SID, Mike DeGeorge, that Nova would bite hard on play action right now.
On third down, the Spiders called for a play-action pass and had two receivers open in the left side of the end zone, but White threw the ball somewhere between the two and it fell incomplete. On fourth down, the Spiders tried to run again but were denied by the Wildcats.
White did not play in the second half due to an eye injury. In the post-game, I asked Scott what happened on that play-action pass play, and Scott believed White might have had the debris in his eye at that time. But tried to play through it.
Nova moved the ball out to the Spider 47 before having to punt. On the Spiders' next drive, White's next pass was intercepted by Nova CB James Pitts (Montclair, N.J.). Starting at the Spider 33, Nova RB Angelo Babbaro (Canfield, Ohio) rushed for six yards, then RB Aaron Ball (Los Angeles, Calif.) ran for 27 yards up the middle, carrying and breaking through the arm tackles of Spider defenders. The score was now Nova 21-0.
Neither team would score for the remainder of the half. White threw only one more pass, and it fell incomplete.
In the second half, Nick Hicks (Marietta, Ga.) played QB besides his punting duties for the Spiders. Facing third and nine on his first drive, Hicks first pass was incomplete.
In the first half, Nova had run 33 plays for 247 yards (181 rushing, 66 passing). In the second half, the Spider defense clamped down on the Wildcats, yielding only 85 total net yards the remainder of the game.
In his post-game statement, Scott stated the Spiders missed too many tackles in the first half, that plus the missed scoring opportunities was the difference in the game.
Nova had two drives in the third quarter, and the Spiders forced Nova to punt after three plays in each drive.
On the Spiders' third drive of the third quarter, they had a fourth-and-three at the Spider 49. Hicks lined up as if he was going to punt and gave the look as if he was stepping forward to punt, but he threw a 32-yard pass down the visitors' sideline to WR Tremayne Graham (Tucker, Ga.).
Hicks followed that up with a nice 18-yard pass to TE Kevin Finney (Lake Bluff, Ill.), which Finney had to dive to his left toward the visitor sidelines to catch the pass at the Nova one. From there, Gaskins would not be denied, as he ran it in for the touchdown to cut the score to 21-7 Nova.
The Spider defense continued to stifle the Nova offense. The Spiders' next possession started on the Nova 48.
Facing a fourth and one, Hicks handed off to RB Tyler Kirchoff (Ridgefield, Conn.), who converted the carry into a first down by keeping his legs pumping and moving the pile forward. However, on third-and-eight from the Nova 37, Hicks tried to hit Smith in the right flat (Nova sidelines), and DE Rakim Cox (San Diego, Calif.) batted the ball backwards.
The ball was loose on the ground as Nova players began to celebrate the deflection. Upon shouts from the Nova coaches that the ball was still live, senior captain SS John Dempsey (Secane, Pa.) outraced Smith for the ball. Smith finally tackled Dempsey at the Spider 12.
It didn't take Whitney long to find TE Chris Farmer (Philadelphia, Pa.) in the end zone for a 3-yard touchdown pass to make the final score 28-7 Villanova.
Whitney was later honored by the CAA as the offensive player of the Week. Whitney was 9-of-16 passing for 78 yards and two TDs, and he rushed 11 times for 116 yards and 1 TD.
The Cats finished with 322 total yards of offense, and only allowed the Spiders to gain 59 net rushing yards and 172 net passing yards for 231 total net yards of offense. On defense, the Cats were led by LB Marquis Kirkland (Syracuse, N.Y.) with 11 tackles.
For the Spiders, White was 3-8-1 for 51 yards, and Hicks was 8-17-1 for 117 yards. Gray had five receptions for 62 yards.
Coach Scott did not know what his quarterback situation was going to be this coming Saturday, but the Spiders will be ready when they host the JMU Dukes at Robins Stadium.
The Wildcats travel to Meade Stadium where they will play the Rhode Island Rams.
North Carolina 21, William & Mary 17
In front of 51,000 fans at Kenan Stadium in Chapel Hill, the William & Mary Tribe visited the North Carolina Tar Heels.
As always, the Tribe, an FCS team came in as big underdogs to the FBS Tar Heels. However, the Tar Heels had been playing without a great number of starters all season long due to NCAA suspensions. Nonetheless, the Heels were heavily favored in this matchup.
The Tar Heels received the ball first, but the Tribe defense stopped them after five plays and 18 yards, forcing a Heels punt.
Tribe QB, Mike Callahan (Mountville, Pa.) started the game, but injured his shoulder early, and on the 6th play of the drive had to be replaced by Mike Paulus (Syracuse, NY). Paulus continued the drive, and took the Tribe to the UNC five yard line. On fourth down, PK, Drake Kuhn (Williamsburg, Va.) kick missed wide right.
On the second play of UNC"s next series, Tribe LB, Wes Steinman (Wilmington, NC) intercepted a pass and ran it back to the UNC 18 yard line.
Three plays later, Paulus found WR, Chase Hill (Virginia Beach, Va) in the corner of the end zone for a six yard touchdown pass. The PAT was wide right, and the Tribe led 6-0.
As the teams entered the second quarter, the Tar Heels managed to move the ball 31 yards to the Tribe 38 yard line, but on fourth and eight, the Heels pass came up incomplete.
The Tribe's next drive didn't amount to much and they had to punt the ball back to the Heels. Starting on their 18 yard line, the Heels drove 82 yards in 14 plays, using 6:52 of clock and scored on a 1 yard QB sneak by Tyler Yates (Marietta, Ga). The Heels led 7-6.
The Tribe and Paulus answered with a 12 play, 83 yard drive, taking up 5:06, culminating in a 9 yard TD pass to C. Hill, running a slant route. Paulus then hit TE, Alex Gottlieb (Delray Beach, Fl) for the two point conversion to give the Tribe a 14-7 lead.
The Heels fumbled the ensuing kickoff giving the ball back to the Tribe. The fumble was recovered by Tribe LB, Jabrel Mines (Doswell, Va.). Starting on the UNC 33, Paulus moved the Tribe to the 11 yard line and gave way to Kuhn to kick a 28 yard field goal, pushing the Tribe lead to 17-7.
That was the halftime score, and neither team scored in the third quarter.
The Heels began the fourth quarter driving 90 yards in 18 plays, using 6:39, scoring on a Yates three yard TD pass to TE, Ryan Taylor (Winston-Salem, NC), narrowing the score to 17-14 Tribe. On the Heels next drive, RB, Johnny White (Asheville, NC) scored on a 67 yard run to give the Tar Heels, the final margin of victory 21-17.
Towards the end of the game, on the Tribe's last drive, Paulus was sacked, injured and had to leave the game. Brent Caprio (Somers Point, NJ) came in for one pass that was intercepted. Also hurt was Tribe RB, Jonathan Grimes (Palmyra, NJ), who suffered a head injury.
For the Tribe, the road ahead is tough, as they must travel to New Hampshire without the services of their first and second string quarterback, and hope that Grimes can recover in time for the game.
Please forgive me for omitting how I fared in the prior weekís games that I picked. I blame this to typing while tired.
In Week nine, I was 4-1 missing on the Maine vs. URI game. Congratulations to Maine for holding on to the win.
Last week, I was not so fortunate, as I was only 2-2, kudos to both URI and UMass on their fine victories. On the year, I've compiled a 34-17 (66% accuracy) record. This has been one tough season.
In the CAA, in scoring defense, the top five teams are as follows:
1. Delaware (9.1 ppg)
2. Villanova (13.9 ppg)
3. James Madison (14.4 ppg)
4. New Hampshire (15.2 ppg)
5. William & Mary (16.6 ppg)
These same teams are ranked as follows nationally:
4. James Madison
6. New Hampshire
9. William & Mary
Thatís pretty impressive, when the top five teams in your conference are also in the top nine in the country. That also explains why seven CAA teams are ranked in the various national polls.
No. 22/23 James Madison (4-4,1-4 CAA) at No. 20/22 Richmond (4-4,2-3 CAA), 3:30 p.m.
TV: CSN-MA, CSN-Philadelphia
Series: Richmond leads 15-12
This game is being featured as the Farm Bureau Insurance Fall Classic. Two teams are fighting for their playoff lives with the loser home for the holidays.
The road team has been victorious for the past six years, but JMU has never played at Robins Stadium. Coach Matthews had stated in his Monday morning teleconference that neither Virginia team had a home field advantage regardless of where they played.
Total scoring in the all-time series is Richmond 606, James Madison 604. The last three games have been decided in the final minutes by a total of 12 points.
Both teams have been hit hard by injuries, but the Spiders have been hit at the QB spot harder than any other CAA team this year. The Spiders have been playing great defense and with a lot of heart and emotion.
The Dukes have been hit hard on both their offensive and defensive lines. The Dukes even revamped their offense midseason just to get some production. Will the Dukes have enough offense to keep the trend of winning on the road in this rivalry.
The Dukes are seventh in scoring offense in the CAA at 17.6 ppg. Narrowly behind them in eighth are the Spiders at a pace of 17.5 ppg. In pass offense, the Dukes rank ninth in the CAA with 149.9 ypg, and the Spiders are again behind them in tenth with an average of 133.1 ypg. In rushing offense, JMU is fourth (167.5 ypg), and UR is fifth (150 ypg).
In total defense, JMU is third (283.4 ypg), and the Spiders are eighth (351.8 ypg). The expression is bend, but don't break.
These teams will try and run the ball down each other's throats, and both will crowd the box and try and force the other to throw. The team that makes the fewest turnovers, and is able to execute their offense will prevail.
In this writer's opinion the streak stops this weekend as the home team prevails in a brawl. Spiders 14, Dukes 13. Upset Meter [-----9]
Maine (3-5,2-3 CAA) at No. 15 Massachusetts (5-3,3-2 CAA) at 3:30 p.m.
TV: CSN-NE, CSN-MA (joined in progress at 4:00), CSN-P (Tape Delayed at 10:30 p.m.)
Series: Massachusetts leads 40-15-1
It will be band day at McGuirk Stadium in Amherst. Both teams are coming in off of conference road victories. The Black Bears were able to enjoy a bye week to rest up and prepare for the Minuteman.
In 2009, Maine won 19-9 in Orono. Maine also won the last time the two teams played in McGuirk Stadium in 2008, 21-20. Prior to the last two meetings, UMass had won six in a row and nine out of 12.
UMass needs this game more if it wants to keep its playoff hopes alive. Maine can play spoiler and strike a staggering blow to the Minutemanís playoff chances.
While Maine is playing better, it is the writer's opinion the Black Bears don't have the size to match up to the Minuteman.
However, UMass has tendency to keep their opponents in the games with penalties and untimely turnovers. Something that Maine is no stranger to either. Look for the Minuteman to grind out a victory on the ground. Minuteman 27, Black Bears 17. Upset Meter [--3---].
No. 4/5 William & Mary (6-2,4-1 CAA) at No. 8 New Hampshire (5-3,3-2 CAA) at 12 p.m.
Series: William & Mary leads 11-2
The Tribe has won the last seven contest against the Wildcats, including last season in Williamsburg, 20-17. As I pointed out earlier, the Wildcats are fourth in the CAA in scoring defense and the Tribe is fifth.
The Cats have enjoyed a bye week, and have gotten some players healthy, while the Tribe limp into Cowell Stadium with their third-string QB, Brent Caprio, at the helm.
UNH fans will be out in force as this is a must win situation for them if they want to get to the playoffs for a seventh consecutive year. The Wildcats are 3-0 at home this year, 4-0 when they win the turnover battle, and 5-0 when they score first.
They are 4-1 when they lead at halftime, and 3-1 when they win the coin toss.
The Tribe has defeated then No. 1 Villanova, and then No. 2 Delaware both at Williamsburg.
The game against UNH, will be the Tribe's third against a top-10 FCS team this season. The Tribe's defense will keep the game close, the question is, can the Tribe offense score.
The Tribe needs one more win to have seven FCS victories and qualify for the playoffs. With these injuries, they are limping to the finish line.
Look for the Wildcats to end the streak in a close one. Wildcats 17, Tribe 13. The rankings suggest the Tribe should be favored, but without Callahan or Paulus, the Wildcats should be favored plus the Cats are at home. Upset Meter [---5---].
Towson (1-7,0-5 CAA) at No. 5/4 Delaware (7-1,4-1 CAA) at 3:30 p.m.
Series: Delaware leads 7-4
The Blue Hens had their seven game win streak snapped two weeks ago, then enjoyed a bye week, getting some rest, and some players healthy.
Towson played a very good game against URI in the Tigers homecoming game last week, but turnovers did them in.
Both teams want to relieve themselves of the taste of defeat. The Blue Hens will look to get their seventh FCS win and qualify for the playoffs.
The Tigers will look to get their first CAA win. This game will be the tale of two teams going in different directions. The Blue Hens would like to celebrate a win at its homecoming game.
Playing in their third consecutive homecoming game, the Tigers would like to win one. The Blue Hens will muscle their way to their eighth victory, but more importantly, their seventh FCS victory. Blue Hens 33 Tigers 13. Upset meter [0---].
No. 3 Villanova (6-2,4-1 CAA) at Rhode Island (3-5,2-3 CAA) at 1:00
Series: Villanova leads 14-2
In the last 10 meetings, Villanova is 9-1. On the Main Line, Villanova is 8-1. At Meade Stadium, Nova is 6-1. The last URI win was in 2005 at Villanova, 48-30. Villanova won last year at home, 36-7. Nova has won 6 in a row.
URI coach Joe Trainer — a former Villanova assistant — has his Rams playing improved football, but admits his team is a few years away from being the caliber of the Wildcats.
URI is 9th in total offense and 10th in total defense in the CAA. The forecasted high for Saturday is in the upper 40's. The chill in the air may slow the Wildcats down, the URI defense will not. The Cats will overwhelm the Rams to secure their seventh FCS victory and qualify for the post season. Wildcats 42, Rams 7. Upset Meter [0---].
As always you can email your thoughts and comments to CAATODAY@YAHOO.COM
This is the CAA TODAY signing off.