CAA preview: Tribe hosts Rhode Island

CAA preview: Tribe hosts Rhode Island
September 19, 2013, 9:00 am
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Towson @ North Carolina Central, Sat. 2:00 p.m.
Stony Brook @ Villanova, Sat. 3:00 p.m. on CSN+
Maine @ No. 18 Northwestern, Sat. 3:30 p.m.
Charlotte @ James Madison, Sat. 6:00 p.m.
Wagner @ Delaware, Sat. 6:00 p.m.
Liberty @ Richmond, Sat. 6:00 p.m.
Rhode Island @ William & Mary, Sat. 7:00 p.m. on CSN
Central Connecticut State @ Albany, Sat. 7:00 p.m.

Matchups of the week: Stony Brook @ Villanova, Sat. 3:00 p.m. on CSN+

After a somewhat surprising 0-2 start, Villanova will look to break into the win column in their home-opener against Stony Brook. Though both losses were against quality opponents in Fordham and Boston College, both were very winnable as the Wildcats lost both games by a combined 13 points.

Those may be tough losses, but it is nothing compared to the devestating five-overtime loss Stony Brook suffered at the hands of Buffalo last weekend. Senior quarterback Lyle Negron did everything he could, throwing for 300 yards and two touchdowns, but in the end it was not enough.

The Wildcats are coming off a bye and have had time to recover from their difficult start, but if they hope to win they must limit the turnovers. The seven they committed in their first two games are the main reason they are 0-2. Stony Brook meanwhile needs to focus on shutting down sophomore quarterback John Robertson who Villanova has built its offense around. In addition to his 322 passing yards, Johnson also is the team's leading rusher with 122 yards on the ground.

Both teams have proven their potential, taking FBS opponents down to the wire, but now both teams are in desperate need of bounce back wins.

Rhode Island @ William & Mary, Sat. 7:00 p.m. on CSN

The Rams got their first win since November 5, 2011 with a 19-13 overtime winner over favored Albany last week. The Rams put together a staunch defensive effort led by CAA defensive player of the week Andrew Bose. The junior linebacker tallied a career-high 17 tackles to help the Rams break their 15-game losing streak and spoil the CAA debut of the Great Danes. They will be looking for another road upset this week as they travel to William & Mary to take on the Tribe.

William & Mary presents a much different challenge for the Rams who last week were preoccupied with finding a way to shut down the Albany offense. This week, Rhode Isalnd will have to find a way to solve the Tribe defense which has allowed only 13 points in their last two games. That does not bode well for a Rhode Island team ranked dead last in the CAA in scoring offense.

The Tribe have dealt with offensive issues of their own, but the team has managed to find big plays elsewhere. Linebackers Airek Green and Marcus Harvey each returned an interception for a touchdown last week against Lafayette and kick returner Tre McBride leads the league with 32 yards per kick return. Against Rhode Island's bottom ranked coverage team, McBride could be in for a big day. Or at least he would be if the Rams ever found themselves needing to kick off. Thanks to this Tribe defense and a struggling Rams' offense, McBride may get very few opportunities.

Player to watch: Marcus Wasilewski, QB, senior, Maine

Maine is 3-0 for the first time since 2002 and Wasilewski is a major reason why. Against Bryant, he threw for 263 yards and four touchdowns, all to different receivers. That ability to spread the ball around will pay dividends against Northwestern who has relied heavily on its offense in the first three games. The Wildcats are giving up an average of 24.6 points per game so Wasilewski will definitely have an opportunity to put points on the board.

Wasilewski leads the CAA in total offense with an average of 311 yards per game. He is dangerous both in the air and on the ground. The Wildcats know how integral he is to the Black Bear's offense and the defensive game plan will focus on shutting him down.

There is an opportunity here for Maine to catch Northwestern napping with Ohio State next on the schedule. In order for the Black Bears to pull off the upset, Wasilewski will have to excel and beat out whatever defensive schemes the Wildcats draw up. He needs to have a big game for Maine to have a chance.

Upset alert: Liberty @ Richmond, Sat. 6:00 p.m.

Richmond head coach Danny Rocco will face his former team Saturday, but it may not be the type of reunion he envisioned. Liberty brings a dangerous rush attack with them and, with the big game against Maine looming, Richmond has to be careful not to get caught looking ahead.

The Spiders have lost two straight including a 12-10 loss to Gardner-Webb, Richmond's first FCS nonconference loss in 18 games. Liberty is a team on the rise with two straight wins. They dominated Morgan State last week 38-10 in a game that saw the Flames rush for an incredible 330 yards and five touchdowns.

The key to this game for Richmond will be to contain that rush attack. Richmond's defense has allowed an average of 106.3 yards per game on the ground and has yielded only one rushing touchdown so far this season. They will need a strong showing from the defense in order to avoid the upset.