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CAA Football: Week 5 Preview

Here is VU54TheGeezer with his preview of all the CAA action for week 5 - he is now 32-7 with his predictions this season.

CAA Week 5 Previews from VU54TheGeezer:

Brown (1-1) at Rhode Island (0-4)

The Brown Brown Bears opened their 2016 season with a 35-27 win at NEC Bryant. Last week the Brown Bears hosted Top 25 Harvard and lost, 32-22. Brown was selected to finish 6th in the 8 team Ivy League. Since 2010 Brown has gone 5-1, winning last year at home, 41-31.  Since 2010 Brown's record has been 6-4, 7-3, 7-3, 6-4, 5-5 and 5-5 last year.

Rhode Island's four losses have been to: Kansas, 55-6, Albany, 35-7, Harvard, 51-21 and New Hampshire last week, 39-17. They are dead last in the CAA in scoring (only 12.8ppg). They are giving up 45.3ppg, also dead last in the CAA. Head Coach and former Villanova assistant, Jim Fleming, has only won 2 games in his two completed years in Kingston. Things aren't looking good for the Rams.

The Rams best chance for a win this year comes this weekend and October 22 when they host Maine unless they get a surprise upset win like in 2014 with Towson and last year with Delaware. However, how do you pick a team to win averaging only 12.8 and giving up 45 a game? Let's go with the Brown Bears to beat the Rams, 31-28 this weekend. Brown hosts Stetson next week and the Rams travel to Villanova.

 

Delaware (0-0/2-1) at #6/7 JMU (1-0/3-1)

The Blue Hens are coming off a bye weekend and have won six consecutive games coming off an open weekend. The Hens have defeated in-state rival Delaware St., 56-14, won at Lafayette, 24-6 and then lost to 1-A ACC Wake Forest, 38-21. They are in 2nd in scoring in the CAA averaging 33.7ppg and 2nd in defense giving up 19.3.  They are 2nd in rushing offense averaging 242 yards per game but dead last in pass offense. They have 2 RBs in the top 10 in the conference  and another runner Wes Hills, one of the best over the years in the CAA, has been injured but will play against JMU. Last year the Hens lost at home to JMU, 24-21 but won in Harrisonburg in 2014, 30-23 in OT.

JMU has put up some gaudy numbers at the expense of some weak sisters - Morehead St., 80-7 and Central Connecticut St., 56-21. In Week 3 1-A ACC UNC defeated the Dukes, 56-28 and last week JMU trailed Maine at the end of the 3rd Quarter before rallying to win, 31-20. JMU is 1st in scoring offense, rushing offense and 6th in passing offense in the conference. Defensively they rank 9th giving up 26ppg. They have the 2nd and 3rd best RBs in Kahlid Abdullah (111 yards a game) and Cardon Johnson (101.8) in the conference.

This game is going to be a war and Delaware can send a powerful message to the rest of the CAA and the FCS Playoff Selection Committee with a win down in Harrisonburg. With 2 weeks of preparation and the defense that Delaware has, I'm going with a 28-24 Blue Hen victory. The Hens host Maine next week and the JMU Dukes host William & Mary.

 

#17/19 William & Mary (0-1/2-2) at New Hampshire (1-0/2-2)

The Tribe is coming off an embarrassing loss at home to Elon, 27-10 with 3 Elon interceptions of Tribe passes playing a big part in the loss. That loss will probably keep the Tribe out of the playoffs this year even though they were picked for 2nd in the conference. They have a brutal 3 game stretch coming up: at UNH (a playoff team for the past 11 years), at #6 JMU and then hosting Delaware, who seems to have found their football mojo again. They also finish at Towson, at Stony Brook (which already beat then #2 Richmond) and then host Richmond in the season finale. Brutal! The Tribe two wins were against MEAC Hampton, 24-10 and MEAC Norfolk St., 35-10. Their other loss was against ACC N.C. St., 48-14.

Is this the year that UNH does not go to the playoffs? They lost at 1-A San Diego St., 31-0 and at Dartmouth, 22-21. They have beaten Holy Cross, 39-28 and Rhode Island, 31-10. They lost at W&M last year, 34-18. A 3rd loss in just 5 games will seriously jeopardize any hopes for the playoffs for both teams.

UNH has a much easier schedule going forth and could survive a loss and still hope for a playoff spot. However, if I'm coach Sean McDonnell I wouldn't want to take that chance. W&M already has their back to the wall and it's only week #5. W&M has to be stinging mad with their upset loss at home to Elon and will come up to Durham with guns ablazing but it's tough to win on the road in the CAA especially at New Hampshire. This will be another war like JMU & Delaware. Because UNH rarely loses at home, let's go with a UNH win, 31-28. If UNH does lose then it could mean that they just don't have enough talent for the playoffs this year. UNH travels to Elon and W&M travels to JMU next week.

 

Towson (0-1/1-2) at #6/7 Richmond (0-1/3-1)

The Tigers have lost to 1-A AAC USF, 56-20 and Villanova, 40-21. Their one win was against St. Francis, 35-28. Last week was a bye week for them. Neither team played each other last year. Towson averages 25ppg and gives up 41ppg.

Richmond has wins over 1-A ACC Virginia, 37-20, MEAC Norfolk St., 34-0 and Top 25 Colgate, 38-31. Their loss was at Stony Brook in Week 3, 42-14. The Spiders are 3rd in the CAA averaging almost 31ppg and 5th in defense giving up 23ppg. Their strength is their passing game with QB/JR Kyle Lauletta and WR/SR Brian Brown.

Richmond, at home, should be almost invincible and therefore will win, 35-24. The Spiders play at #21 Albany next week and Towson hosts Stony Brook.

 

Bryant (2-2) at Maine (0-3)

The Bryant Bulldogs out of the Northeast Conference were a preseason pick for 4th in the 7 team conference. Their strength is their QB who has passed for over 4,600 yards in the past two seasons. In 2014 the Bulldogs went 8-3 but slipped to 5-6 last year. Bryant opened with a 41-20 win over Merrimack and traveled out to Big Sky Montana St. but lost in a very respectable 27-24 game. In Week 3 the Bulldogs lost to Ivy Brown, 35-27 and last week opened the NEC season with a 45-25 win over Central Connecticut St.

After opening up with two 1-A teams (UConn and Toledo) and both were losses, things didn't get any easier last week playing Top 10 JMU at home and losing in Orono, 31-20. Maine actually led the game after 3 quarters, 17-14. Although Maine is at the bottom of most categories in the CAA, one has to consider their brutal schedule so far. 

First year Head Coach and long tome Maine assistant Joe Harasymiak should get the champagne bottles open this weekend after their 31-24 win over Bryant. Bryant takes a week off before playing at NEC St. Francis and Maine will travel down to Delaware on October 8th.

#14/17 Villanova (1-0/3-1) at Elon (1-0/2-2)

This will be the first meeting ever between these two teams. After 11 years in the Southern Conference (SoCon), the Phoenix joined the CAA for all sports in 2014. They play in Rhodes Stadium, which seats about 13,000. They have been to the FCS Playoffs once back in 2009 and lost to CAA foe Richmond, 16-13. In 2014, their 1st year in the CAA, the Phoenix went 0-8 and were 1-11 for the year. That was current head coach Rich Skrosky's 1st year and he faced quite a rebuilding job. In 2015, his 2nd year and the 2nd year for Elon in the CAA, the Phoenix went 3-5 with some quality wins: 17-13 over Towson, 21-7 at Stony Brook and 27-22 at Maine and just a 4 point loss to Delaware in their last game separated them from a .500 season in year 2 in the CAA. The Phoenix finished 4-7 but were headed in the right direction. A disappointing start to the 2016 season saw the Phoenix lose at home to Gardner-Webb, 31-6. Gardner-Webb was picked to finish 5th in the 6 team Big South Conference. Week 2 saw the Phoenix lose to 1-A C-USA Charlotte 49ers, 47-14. In Week 3 the Phoenix dipped down to play Fayetteville St. (a Division 2 team) and won, 26-3. Last week Elon shocked the world by defeating #8 ranked William & Mary in Williamsburg, 27-10. Three interceptions on W&M QB Steve Cluley certainly didn't help the Tribe cause. Elon is averaging 18.2ppg and giving up just 22.8 (4th best in the CAA). Their rushing offense is somewhat weak averaging just 120 yards per game on the ground (10th best in the CAA). Their strength is in the passing game rated 3rd in the conference with 206.5 yards a game. This plays to Villanova's weakness on the defensive side as the Cats are rated 8th in pass defense in the CAA. Elon counters with a pass defense that is rated 4th. Cat QB Zack Bednarczyk has to have a better passing game than he did last week at Lafayette. His passes were not crisp, throwing low at times to receivers preventing them from gaining any extra yardage after their catch, or he was too high or throwing behind the receiver. SO/QB Daniel Thompson ranks 4th to Bednarczyk's 9th in pass efficiency. Whoever wins this match-up could play a pivotal role in the outcome of the game. Also critical to the outcome is which O Line can protect its quarterback better. Elon places 2nd in pass protection while the Cats struggle in 9th place.

Villanova played a tougher 1-A opponent (Pitt) and did considerably better. The Cats have a nice CAA home win over Towson (40-21) but Elon counters with a better one against a Top 10 team on the road. Villanova's other two out-of-conference wins have been better than Elon's. The Cats are all about defense and this should keep them in the game and maybe be the deal breaker in the outcome. They give up 21ppg but can stop the run (Pitt only had some 80 yards on the ground). Where the Cats have really seen growth in their game is at running back with Javon White ranked in the Top 10 in the CAA and R-FR/RB D'Andre Pollard averaging 10 yards a carry. JR/WR Taurus Phillips is growing in confidence and is becoming a go-to-guy for Bednarczyk. SO/WR Jarrett McClenton shows flashes but still must become more dominating and consistent. Elon is tied for the best Red Zone Offense in the CAA while the Cats are the 2nd best in defending it. Who dominates the Red Zone will speak volumes about the outcome. Elon is a much more disciplined team placing 2nd in the CAA in fewest penalties. The Cats can't afford to kill drives with stupid penalties.

Turnovers played a major role in the Phoenix upset of W&M. The Cats have to come out on the positive side on Saturday. The W&M upset should have grabbed the Cats attention and there won't be any letdowns. The Cat defense will keep them in the game, now the offense has to do their part and put more points on the board than our defense. A loss to Elon puts the Cats in a perilous spot to make the postseason playoffs - something everyone wants for Coach Talley in his last year. I'm going with a Cat win down in Elon, N.C., 28-21/28-24 - take your pick but the Cats should enjoy the flight home. Elon hosts New Hampshire  and Villanova hosts Rhode Island next week. By the way, the scheduling Gods didn't do Elon any favors. Look at this 6 game stretch - at W&M, Villanova, New Hampshire, Richmond, at Albany and at Towson. Then a breather home against URI but they finish at JMU. Ouch!

Additional details on the Villanova - Elon match-up today can be found in the VUSports Villanova - Elon Game Preview


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