The Italians of the Renaissance would have call Taylor Heinicke a virtuoso, a term used to honor exceptional performances in the arts. The term was derived from a Latin word meaning skill, excellence and manliness. I'm sure the masses at the Coliseum in Rome would have appreciated the sophomore quarterback's performance as much as the crowd at S.B. Ballard stadium in Norfolk on Saturday.
Whether it's a grand enough term to describe going 55-79 and throwing for 730 yards and 5 touchdowns can be debated, but it can't be argued that the Monarch signal-caller is now the clear favorite for this year's Payton Award. After breaking numerous FCS records and coming within a handful of yards of the most prolific passing day in the history of college football, Heinicke brought some timely notoriety to the Old Dominion program and looks poised to lead the Monarchs to bigger things at the FBS level starting next year.
It was no surprise, therefore, that Heinicke was named not only CAA Offensive Player of the week but also a National Player of the Week by College Sporting News and The Sports Network (and even more others). Heinicke was even named a Manning Award Star of the Week, which is relatively unique for an FCS player given that the award is sponsored by the Allstate Sugar Bowl.
LAST WEEK'S GAMES
Delaware at William & Mary
They say that lightning never strikes twice, but by the time the weather delay stopped play in the 3rd quarter at Zable Stadium in Williamsburg, William & Mary fans had already been shocked a couple of times. A 47-yard interception return and a 97-yard blocked field goal return had helped the Blue Hens build a 27-7 halftime lead and the fumble return in the second half put the game out of reach. By the time the lightning delay arrived, the visitors were well on their way to a 51-21 win.
The Tribe was done in last season by inconsistent quarterback play and poor special teams and while both weaknesses were still in evidence in three close losses to start the season, all the bad memories of 2011 came rushing back in the flurry of turnovers and returns. Delaware was more than happy to take advantage of the opportunities and come away with a relatively easy victory in advance of another tough road trip to New Hampshire this Saturday.
James Madison at Rhode Island
It was a gorgeous first day of fall in Rhode Island on Saturday. A perfect afternoon for golf at Sakonnet in Little Compton, sailing in Naragansett Bay or a walk on the cliffs in Newport. Those or numerous other pursuits would have been better ways to spend the day than rooting for the home team in Kingston. James Madison came to town and made it clear early that the Rams early season woes would continue in a 32-7 win. Coach Trainer and his team may be staying in the CAA, but a couple of classes of NEC-level talent are going to lead to a lot of days like this one.
Richmond at Georgia State
I said in my game preview that the Panthers had little chance in winning a CAA home game unless the opposing team had a bunch of players miss curfew at one of Atlanta's many gentlemen's establishments. Well, it appears that the Richmond Spiders behaved themselves, and left the Georgia Dome with a smooth 35-14 victory. While not exactly a statement win given the opposition, the win continued to serve notice that this year's Richmond team is going to try to keep things interesting this year.
Senior QB John Laub accounted for four touchdowns, including three on the ground, as he continued to impress in replacing Aaron Corp and he got plenty of help from wide receivers Stephen Barnette and Ben Edwards as the Spiders never allowed the Panthers to sniff their first CAA victory.
The problems at quarterback continue to hamper the Panthers offense and they will struggle to get a win without turning the situation around.
St. Francis (PA) at Towson
The defending CAA champions got all they wanted out of a cupcake 46-17 tuneup game before heading to Death Valley this Saturday to take on LSU. the Tigers pounced on the Red Flash early and rolled up a convincing margin before halftime allowing Coach Ambrose to ease off the gas and make sure everyone came away rested and healthy for the trip to the Bayou on Saturday.
Albany at Maine
Albany continued to serve notice that it will not come quietly into the CAA with an impressive 30-20 road win in Orono. Fresh off a battle against top 5 Youngstown State, the Great Danes carried their momentum to Maine, jumped out to an early lead and held off the Black Bears for the rest of the afternoon.
Maine had a chance at an early field goal, but after Albany blocked it, the visitors then proceeded to convert three of their own for a 9-0 lead. From there, the game seesawed as Maine would chip away and get close, but could never get over the hump. A 74-yard touchdown run from Kevin Chillis was the backbreaker for Albany and Marcus Wasilewski and the Maine offense could never get closer than a touchdown after that. Jack Cosgrove and his bunch now find themselves at 1-2 and facing a make-or-break game against Villanova on Saturday.
THE CAA TODAY TOP 25
1 North Dakota State
2 Youngstown State
3 The Citadel
5 Old Dominion
6 Eastern Washington
7 James Madison
8 Cal Poly
9 Montana State
10 Northern Iowa
12 Central Arkansas
13 Illinois State
15 McNeese State
16 Georgia Southern
17 Stony Brook
18 New Hampshire
19 Appalachian State
21 Sam Houston State
22 Northern Arizona
25 Eastern Kentucky
Offensive Player of the Week: Taylor Heinicke, QB, Old Dominion
Heinicke set a slue of records in Old Dominion's thrilling 64-61 win over New Hampshire, completing 55-of-79 passes for 730 yards and five touchdowns to go with 65 rushing yards and a score on the ground. With Saturday's performance, the Monarch sophomore now owns Division I records with 791 yards of total offense and 730 yards passing while coming up just six yards shy of breaking college football's single-game passing mark. Heinicke also established new school records with 79 pass attempts, 55 completions, 730 passing yards and 791 total offensive yards.
Defensive Player of the Week: Paul Worrilow, LB, Delaware
Worrilow turned in nine tackles, including two for a loss of 11 yards, to lead a solid defensive effort for Delaware on the road at William and Mary. The Hens senior also had a sack (nine yards) and forced a fumble that represented one of the team's five forced turnovers in Saturday's win.
Rookie of the Week: John Robertson, QB, Villanova
Robertson earns his third-straight weekly honor after a strong day both in the air and on the ground as Villanova rolled to its 12th-straight victory over cross-town rival Penn. The Wildcats' rookie was an efficient 13-of-20 passing for 213 yards and a touchdown while also running in for a 26-yard score as part of his 55 rushing yards. Robertson's effort represented his first career 200-yard passing game and moved him to 3-0 as Villanova's starting quarterback.
Special Teams Player of the Week: Derrick Joseph, WR, Towson
Joseph returned a pair of kicks for 148 yards that included a game-tying 99-yard kickoff return that marked the second-longest kickoff return for a touchdown in school history. With his score, the sophomore became just the third player in school history to return more than one kickoff for a touchdown in his career. Joseph's second return was good for 49 yards and would set up another score in the second quarter.
THIS WEEK'S GAMES
Rhode Island at Bowling Green
Hard to get too excited about an unusual intersectional matchup involving one of the cellar-dwellers of the CAA. Bowling Green is far from terrific but they should have plenty to knock off the visiting Rams, who might be searching for a while longer to pick up their first win. Bowling Green fans will be able to turn their attention back to Presidential advertisements by the second half.
BG 31 RI 13
Georgia State at William & Mary
In an odd way, a battle of 0-4 teams can be strangely interesting, but I'm not going to overdo it with this one. One of these teams clearly deserves to be winless wile the other has had some opportunities before finally wilting against a superior opponent last week. It's still a little bit disarming to listen to Bill Curry (seriously, Bill Curry!) talk about Georgia State's woeful quarterback play on the CAA coaches conference call. However, Jimmye Laycock's options under center look like Johnny Unitas compared to what they're deciding between down in Atlanta. Curry says his choice this week will be a gametime decision but I'm hard-prerssed to believe it matters in the Panthers first CAA road game.
The College 23 Georgia State 16
Towson at LSU
I have often referred to the CAA as the SEC of the FCS. While that's a mouthful of alphabet soup, it will be a treat to see the defending champions of the two conferences go head to head in Baton Rouge on Saturday. The battle of Tigers in Louisiana is a tremendous challenge for Towson and could be an interesting game given the struggles offensively that LSU still seems to be dealing with. Enders, West, Booker and Co. will be ready to give the Bengal Tigers everything they can handle and if Les Miles and his staff overlook Rob Ambrose's team they may find themselves in a tougher fight than expected. In the end, the athleticism of the SEC will be too much but not before the boys from Charm City put a scare into the crowd in Death Valley.
Tigers (LA) 30 Tigers (MD) 20
Villanova at Maine
Villanova has been one of the surprise teams of the CAA so far this year, but they face a new challenge this Saturday as they leave the city of Brotherly Love for the first time to head to Orono, Maine. Andy Talley sounded excited about the first road test of the year and finding out how his team would respond. They'll get a Black Bear squad looking to get rid of the sour taste of a home loss last week to Albany. It's early, but it just looks like these are two teams heading in opposite directions. Villanova is improving and building while Maine is struggling to replace the leadership and magic of last season. Black Bears will fight tooth and nail for this one, but the Villanova resurgence continues.
Wildcats 27 Bears 23
Old Dominion at Richmond
In horse racing, they call it stepping up in class. That's what Richmond is doing this week after three games against lesser competition. The Spiders have been a pleasant surprise so far this season with a new coach and some new pieces on offense, but this week's matchup with the Monarchs will show if the early season success was an illusion or a reality. It will be a big challenge for the Spider defense to handle the tempo of the Old Dominion offense and their only hope might be that Taylor Heinicke fielded so many media requests this week that he got distracted from his preparation. Unfortunately, from the way coach Bobby Wilder talks about the precocious sophomore, I doubt that happened. I think the Spiders are playing with a lot of confidence and it will show, for at least a half. However, the Route 64 rivalry will be won by the team in black and gray.
Monarchs 34 Spiders 20
GAME OF THE WEEK
Delaware at New Hampshire
This is a classic case of trying to figure out how the previous week's game will affect a team the following Saturday. While Delaware had a relatively easy time of things in the evening at Williamsburg, the Wildcats lost the heartbreaker in the heat at Old Dominion. The question is how well the UNH defense recovered and how ready they are to face a much different but challenging offense from Delaware. The Blue Hens aren't going to throw it 79 times, but they are going to try to punish Coach McDonnell's defense and test their fortitude with a running game led by Andrew Pierce and yet another solid transfer quarterback Trent Hurley.
However, lost in the hoopla of last weekend but was how well the New Hampshire offense played and the way they controlled most of the game. The Wildcats have a better running game than we've seen in a long time and Vailas really seems to be comfortable under center in Coach McDonnell's offense. New Hampshire has had success beating Delaware with backup quarterbacks before and they've had a little magic going at home, winning eight straight and going 19-1 over the last four season. Look for the Wildcat offense to use the ground game to keep the defense off the field just enough to pull out a bounce-back win.
Wildcats 35 Blue Hens 30
As usual, please feel free to offer any suggestions, scouting reports, thoughts, queries, etc. to CAAtoday@yahoo.com