CAA preview: two teams in need of a win

CAA preview: two teams in need of a win
October 10, 2013, 11:00 am
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Albany @ Delaware, Sat. 12:00 p.m. on CSN
Rhode Island @ New Hampshire, Sat. 12:00 p.m.
Richmond @ James Madison, Sat. 3:30 p.m.
Pennsylvania @ William & Mary, Sat. 3:30 p.m.
Stony Brook @ Colgate, Sat. 6:00 p.m.
Villanova @ Towson, Sat. 7:00 p.m.

Matchup of the week: Albany @ Delaware, Sat. 12:00 p.m. on CSN

This week’s matchup features two teams in desperate need of a rebound. Delaware was walloped last week 62-28 by conference foe Maine. That game marks the most points allowed by Delware in regulation since 1921!

A major reason for their defensive struggles last week was their horrendous pass defense. They rank second to last in the conference allowing an average of 257.3 yards per game and will struggle to cover Albany’s playmakers in Kevin Chillis and Omar Osbourne.

While Delaware looks to get back on track, Albany is hoping they can still salvage their season. With a 1-5 record, you can be sure this was not how head coach Bob Ford envisioned his team’s first season in the CAA.

The Great Danes’ plight has also been made worse by their brutal schedule. This will be Albany’s third straight road game after facing Old Dominion and James Madison the last two weeks.

ODU, JMU, and Delaware, all on the road, and all in consecutive weeks? The schedule makers truly did Albany no favors when they put this season together.

The Great Danes will get no sympathy from Delaware, however, as they take on the second most prolific offense in the conference behind only Towson. Albany will have to hope its offense can overpower a Delaware defense that ranks second to last in the conference in points allowed per game. The problem: the only defense below Delaware is Albany.

Prepare yourselves for a high-scoring affair. This one should be fun.

Player to watch: Michael Strauss, QB, junior, Richmond

Strauss will lead Richmond’s dangerous passing attack into Harrisonburg to face a JMU team he got his first career start against last season. Clearly he has made the most of his time as starter; Richmond has the top passing game in the conference by a wide margin with an average of 296.8 yards per game.

Richmond receivers Stephen Barnette and Ben Edwards give Strauss two dangerous targets as both rank in the top three among CAA receivers in receptions per game and receiving yards per game. This allows Strauss to spread the ball around and prevents defenses from keying on a single man.

The problem for Richmond is that they may depend on the pass a little too much. Despite racking up the yards, the Spiders are eighth in the conference in scoring and Strauss is ninth in passing efficiency. Without a rushing game they can rely on, Richmond will continue to call on Strauss to carry the load.

With Towson, Maine, and Villanova all vying for supremacy of the conference, this Saturday may be a must win if Richmond wants to keep its conference and playoff hopes alive. They will not stand a chance against JMU, however, if Strauss cannot carry continue to carry the offense.

Upset alert: Villanova @ Towson, Sat. 7:00 p.m.

Towson, though still undefeated, has looked vulnerable in its past two games. Two weeks ago, they fell to a 14-0 deficit in the first quarter against Stony Brook before coming back to win. Last week, they fell again early, this time spotting New Hampshire a 20-3 lead. Again, the Tigers roared back to win, but two straight slow starts are definitely a cause for concern.

The Tigers cannot sleep walk through the first quarter this week because they will be playing a Villanova team that proved it can dominate a second half and finish strong. The Wildcats trailed William and Mary 13-3 in the third quarter last week before mounting a furious comeback to win the game. Villanova scored the decisive touchdown with only 28 seconds remaining to down the Tribe.

This team can play when it matters.

Don’t forget that Villanova was the preseason favorite to win the CAA. If Towson does not put together four solid quarters of football, they could see their 10 game winning streak come to an end.