CAA Football: Week 3 Preview

VUSports legendary poster, VU54TheGeezer breaks down week three across CAA football ...

VU54TheGeezer provides a preview of all of the week three games featuring CAA teams.  He was a perfect 11-0 with his predictions last week to move to 20-3 overall for the season!

Friday, September 16

Rhode Island (0-2) at Harvard (0-0)

The Rams opened the season with a 55-6 loss to 1-A Big 12 Kansas, 55-6. Last week the Rams lost at home to Albany, 35-7. URI is last in the conference in scoring offense (6.5ppg) and last in defense (45ppg). I guess this is to be expected since they were selected for last place in the CAA this year. Remember, the Rams won only one game in both 2014 and 2015.

The Harvard Crimson have never won less than 7 games in a season since 2002. They are a perennial Top 25 team and went a perfect 10-0 in 2014 and 9-1 in 2015, losing only to Penn, 35-25. Last year the Crimson beat Rhode Island, 41-10. They were picked to win the Ivy this year just ahead of Penn.

Look for the Crimson to win their 1st game in 2016, 38-14. Harvard plays at Brown next week and the Rams will host UNH.


Saturday, September 17

#2 Richmond (2-0) at Stony Brook (1-1)

Both teams are opening up their CAA play this weekend. Richmond was picked to win it all in the CAA mostly based on their strong performance last year making it all the way to the semifinal game. The Spiders have the biggest win in the conference so far this year with their upset of 1-A, Power 5, ACC Virginia, 37-20. Last week was a 34-0 win over Norfolk St. JR/QB Kyle Lauletta is putting up big numbers and the conference's best WR is SR Brian Brown.

The Seawolves opened 2016 with an upset of #19 Big Sky North Dakota, 13-9 but last week had to play Temple after they were upset by Army and took it on the chin, 38-0. Neither team played each other in 2015. Richmond is used to putting up over 30 ppg but may struggle to reach that going against Stony Brook, who only gave up 15.7ppg last year. If Stony Brook has playoff aspirations, a win here will speak volumes for their cause.

This is a great test for both teams but I think Richmond is already in a nice groove and should win, 24-14. The Spiders host Top 25 Colgate next week and Stony Brook hosts Sacred Heart.


#11 JMU (2-0) at North Carolina (1-1)

The Tar Heels, who were picked to win the Coastal Division of the ACC this year, lost their opener to #18 Georgia, 33-24. Last week the Heels won at Illinois, 48-23. In 2015 Carolina went 11-3 and lost their Bowl game to #17 Baylor, 49-38.  UNC played CAA Delaware last year and early in the 3rd Quarter it was anyone's game until the Heels blew out the Hens in the 4th Quarter and won, 41-14.

JMU has played two cupcakes and won both, 80-7 (Morehead St.) and 56-21 (Central Connecticut St.). JMU won at 1-A SMU last year, 48-45 but I don't think they are as strong this year and Carolina is much better than the SMU Mustangs.

Let's go with a 42-21 win for the Heels down in Chapel Hill. UNC hosts undefeated Pitt next week and JMU travels up to Orono to play Maine next week.


Fayetteville St. (0-2) at Elon (0-2)

The Division 2 Broncos opened up with a 14-13 loss to Chowan and last week another loss at UNC Pembroke, 50-28. Last year the Broncos finished 3rd in the CIAA Southern Division at 4-6 overall and 4-3 in the conference.

Elon opened up with a very disappointing loss at home to Gardner-Webb, 31-6. They followed that up with a loss to 1-A Conference-USA Charlotte, 47-14. An obvious problem on the defensive side of the ball must improve if the Phoenix hope to match last year's 4 win season. However, a D-2 school should have no place on a CAA team schedule. 

Look for the Phoenix to get their 1st non-conference win, 31-6 as they finish their schedule with all CAA teams. Elon travels to William & Mary next week.


Norfolk St (1-1) at #13 William & Mary (1-1)

The Spartans were a preseason pick for 6th in the 12 team MEAC conference. They opened up with a win over Division 2, Elizabeth City St., 20-12. Last week began their tour of the CAA with a 34-0 loss at Richmond. Since 2011 when the Spartans went 9-3 they have gone 3-7, 4-8, 3-9 and 6-5 last year. They lost at William & Mary last year, 40-7.

The Tribe opened at Power 5 ACC North Carolina St. and, well, it didn't go to well, as they lost 48-14. Last year the Tribe almost upset ACC Virginia before losing, 35-29 in a 9-4 season and an 0-1 playoff record losing to Richmond, 48-13. Last week Jimmye Laycock's Tribe won at MEAC Hampton, 24-14. I though the Tribe would put up better offensive numbers with 8 starters returning on that side of the ball.

In their final non-conference game of the season and their 1st home game of the year the Tribe will get a Spartan scalp, 35-14. Norfolk St. hosts N.C. Central next week and W&M hosts Elon.


Delaware (2-0) at Wake Forest (2-0)

The Demon Deacs were supposed to finish last in the 7 team Atlantic Division of the ACC in 2016. They opened at home with a baseball score of 7-3 and a win over Tulane, who was also picked to finish last in the West Division of the AAC. Last week, however, Wake upset Duke on the road in Durham, 24-14. WF hasn't had a winning season since 2008 when they went 8-5 with a Bowl loss to Navy, 29-19. The Deacs finished last year at 3-9 with a 41-3 win over Elon of the CAA. 

This is a put-up or shut-up type of game for the Blue Hen faithful. Coach Brock has been saying all summer that this year's team will be the one to turn the corner and, I think, in his eyes has a very good shot at the FCS playoffs. The Hens opened with an easy win over their embarrassing in-state rival, Delaware St., 56-14. Last week was supposed to be another cake-walk  for the Hens and they did win, 24-6 over Lafayette but at the half it was 3 to 3. Of all the ACC teams I would want to play with a decent shot at a win would be Wake Forest. But maybe the Deacs are better than advertized. Delaware still struggles with their passing game (although somewhat improved but still last in the CAA) but have probably the best trio of running backs in SR Jalen Randolph, JR Wes Hills and SO Thomas Jefferson. They have a solid defense as well.

This would be another huge win for the CAA to beat a 2nd Power 5 1-A ACC team this year but Wake may not be a typical Wake team this year. We will find out on Saturday but let's go with a 3 point win for the Deacs with a 24-21 win in Winston-Salem. The Demon Deacons travel to Indiana next week and Delaware plays in two weeks at JMU.


Holy Cross (1-1) at #25 Albany (2-0)

The Crusaders, a 4th place pick in the 7 team Patriot League, won their opener, 51-28 at MEAC Morgan St. Last week HC travelled to New Hampshire and lost by a respectful score of 39-28.Last year the Crusaders were 6-5 with a close loss at Towson, 29-26 and then a blow-out of Albany, 37-0.

Congratulations to Coach Greg Gattuso, who was supposed to finish 11th in the 12 team CAA but with their major upset of 1-A MAC Buffalo, 22-16 and a win at URI last week, 35-7, they have entered the Top 25. Quite an accomplishment. So/RB Elijah Ibitokun-Hank is giving teams all they can handle with an average of 141 yards rushing a game, leading the CAA.

Normally, I would pick this to be a very close game with another Crusader chance of an upset like last year but the Great Danes are hungry and believe in themselves and should win, 34-21. Holy Cross hosts Ivy Dartmouth next week and Albany hosts St. Francis.


#22 New Hampshire (1-1) at Dartmouth (0-0)

The UNH Wildcats opened at 1-A Mountain West San Diego St. and lost, 31-0. Last week UNH defeated Holy Cross in Durham, N.H., 39-28. UNH returns 7 starters on offense but just 4 on defense, which may explain those high numbers. Although UNH had a down year last season (7-4), they still went to the playoffs but lost at home in the opening round to Colgate, 27-20.

Dartmouth opens their season as a 3rd place pick in the Ivy just ahead of Yale and Princeton. The Big Green finished 9-1 last year with their only loss coming at the hands of the Harvard Crimson, 14-13. That's just 2 points away from a perfect season! In 2014 the Big Green went 8-2 after two consecutive seasons of 6-4. So, the program is certainly headed in the right direction. 

A 3rd place Ivy team should not beat a 5th place CAA team on the road, so let's give UNH a 27-17 win over the Big Green. Dartmouth plays at Holy Cross and UNH travels to Rhode Island next week.

Towson (1-1) at #21 Villanova (1-1)

The Tigers were a preseason pick for 6th place in the 12 team CAA. Towson opened the 2016 season at the University of South Florida (USF) and lost 56-20. The Bulls were picked for 1st place of the six teams in the East Division of the 1-A AAC. In Week #2 the Tigers hosted St. Francis (picked for 3rd in the Northeast Conference) and won but in a closer-than-expected game, 35-28. This will be Towson's and Villanova's first CAA game of the year. Last year the Cats had an excellent opportunity to steal a win on the road but gave up two pick 6s and lost, 28-21. Towson finished the season at 7-4 and would have gone to the playoffs if they hadn't been upset by Elon on the road, 17-13. A costly 4 point loss. Coach Rob Ambrose enters his 8th season with a 43-41 record at Towson. The Tigers return 10 starters on offense with their biggest loss being their QB, Connor Frazer. On defense Towson returns 8 starters. So this is a very seasoned team.Their best player is 5-8 SR/RB Darius Victor and the Cats will have their hands full trying to stop him. Another big gun for Towson is 6-3 SR/WR Christian Summers, who went for 232 yards receiving against St. Francis with 2 TDs of 94 yard catch and 43 yard catch. Lehigh picked apart our secondary last week but didn't hurt us on the ground. Towson has two weapons for a ground assult and aerial assult. Not good. The Towson QB ranks 6th in the CAA with 150 yard average per game to Zack Bednarczyk's 87 yards a game in the air. But where Bednarczyk is excelling is with his feet getting 94 yards to Towson QB Ellis Knudson's 19 yards.

Villanova was a preseason pick for 4th in the 12 team CAA, which would put them in the playoffs. They opened with a quality defensive game against 1-A, Power 5, ACC Pitt, a top 30 team, but lost, 28-7 in a very inept offensive performance. Last week Lehigh gave Villanova all it could handle before pulling out a 26-21 come-from-behind victory. The Cats recovered from their offensive funk on the ground with Javon White gaining 155 yards, Zack Bednarczyk 92 yards and SO/RB Aaron Forbes with 87 yards. However, our passing game was pretty pathetic gaining only 56 yards. Look for Towson to just stuff the box, eliminate the run and force the Cats to beat them in the air. SO/WR Jarrett McClenton and JR/WR Taurus Phillips have to play the game of their lives for the Cats to win this. Villanova must also become more disciplined and eliminate those penalties that are costing us big time on the offensive side of the ball. And don't get me started on our kicking game. Can we just make some PATs? Is that asking for too much? A made field goal would also be nice. And the Cat defense must play better than last week especially with our secondary.

The winner of this game gets the inside track for the 4th coveted playoff spot from the CAA in the post season. Both teams have to get to the 7 win mark for the season (and even that won't guarantee a playoff spot). There's more pressure on the Cats since they are at home and winning on the road is very tough to do in the CAA. If the Cats want to send coach Talley out with a playoff season then they simply have to win this game. It will come down to who wins in the trenches(both lines and our O line must do a better job of giving Bednarczyk more time and protection to scan the field and find a receiver), who wins the penalty flag debacle and who wins the turnover game. Bottom line - who executes their game plan the best.

The Cats simply have to win this home game and hopefully, with a pretty full stadium of parents and families to back the Cats, will come out on top. Towson can really keep our defense off-balanced with Victor running and Summers receiving. Let's hope our RBs can duplicate the success that they had last week. This will be a close one, a nail-biter, an edge of your seat type of game and not decided until the final play. Hoping for a Cat win at 26-24. Towson needs this one bad because they have to play Richmond on the road in two weeks with a bye next week. The Cats travel to Lafayette next week.

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