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CAA Football: Week 10 Preview

VU54TheGeezer previews Week 10 in the CAA and provides his predictions ...

VU54TheGeezer is 51-16 so far this season with his CAA predictions.  Here is his preview of Week 10:

Delaware (1-4/3-5) at #28/30 Albany (2-3/5-3)

The Hens got their 1st victory since September 10 after 5 consecutive losses. They led 10-3 at half and with 8:15 to go in the 4th quarter SO/RB Thomas Jefferson (co-rookie of the year in 2015 with Zach Bednarczyk) galloped 40 yards into the end zone for a 20-6 lead. Jefferson would finish with 141 yards rushing and the Hens beat Towson after getting four interceptions and one recovered fumble. That's 5 turnovers in one game!!! The win down in Newark also got interim head coach Dennis Dottin-Carter his first victory since being hired two weeks ago, replacing fired Dave Brock. The Blue Hen goal now is to win its last 3 games to avoid back-to-back losing seasons for the first time since the late 1930s. However, I don't see that happening. Away at Albany, away at Richmond and home vs Villanova will not give you those desired wins. The Hens enter this game averaging 23ppg and on defense, 23.4ppg. They are 2nd in the conference in rushing yardage but dead last in pass offense.

Albany enjoyed a Top 25 ranking for several weeks based on their upset of 1-A MAC Buffalo and taking Top 5 Richmond to triple overtime before the Spiders prevailed, 36-30. After Richmond, Albany lost at Maine, 20-16 and at Villanova, 24-13 before beating Elon in Albany last week, 27-3. The Great Danes average 26 a game and give up just 18 a game for 2nd best in the CAA. Albany is still playing for a playoff berth and must get at least two wins out of their three remaining games: vs Delaware, at New Hampshire and home vs Stony Brook. Tall order but it could get done. Albany defeated the Hens last year in Delaware, 17-6.

Now the pick. No room for any margin of error for the Great Danes as they have to win their two remaining home games because they are not going to win at UNH. Let's give the Great Danes a 24-21 win in Albany on Saturday. Albany travels to UNH and Delaware goes to Richmond next week.

 

Elon (1-4/2-6) at Towson (0-5/1-7)

The Phoenix have a win over D-2 Fayetteville St. and a scratch your head how did they do it upset of William & Mary in Williamsburg. Since that win over W&M the Phoenix have lost 4 in-a-row. Their goal this year was to finish at .500 in conference play but will fall far short of that one. A step back for Rich Skrosky and his Phoenix program. Elon was picked for 10th in the preseason and is averaging only 12.5ppg and give up 26 a game. Their last 3 games are at Towson, home vs URI and at JMU. That looks like one win at best.

Last week Towson met up with Delaware with both programs having lost 5 consecutive losses and neither winning since September 10. That streak now is six in-a-row for the Tigers having lost at Delaware, 20-6 after turning the ball over 5 times. The Tigers average 19 a game and give up 30.4 (11th in the 12 team CAA). Last year the Tigers lost at Elon, 17-13. Towson's goal at this point should be to win 2 of their last 3 games for some momentum heading into Spring football camp. It's doable as Towson travels to Rhode Island on November 19. Towson could even steal another win with their game against the struggling Tribe of William & Mary at home.

Towson 21 and Elon 14. Elon hosts Rhode Island next week and Towson hosts the Tribe of William & Mary.

 

William & Mary (1-4/3-5) at #25 Stony Brook (4-1/5-3)

I guarantee you no one saw this coming back in August. The Tribe was picked for 2nd in the CAA and enjoyed a Top 10 ranking. Now their playoff dreams have been shattered and they are fighting for respect with a winning record. Just not the Tribe's year. They should hope that they don't finish in the basement of the CAA for 2016. Their last three games are: at Stony Brook, at Towson and home vs Richmond. There may not be a win left in them for Jimmye Laycock's 37th season. The Tribe average 21ppg (low for them) and give up 25 a game (not traditional Tribe numbers). Last week with a chance to gain some momentum for the stretch run and come up with two consecutive wins, the Tribe lost at home to Maine, 35-28. Maine led 28-7 at one point before a Tribe rally to close the gap to 28-21. However, two Red Zone fumbles by the Tribe and a special team breakdown on a punt resulted in a touchdown for the Black Bears and a final score of 35-28.

Stony Brook, after being picked for 8th in the CAA in the preseason, has their sights on a playoff at-large bid. A 8-3 record will definitely get them that bid and a 7-4 record gives them a 50-50 chance. They have two signature wins over Top 20 North Dakota and Top 2 Richmond in a blow out win at home. Can they get 3 wins in their last 3 games against W&M at home, Maine at home and Albany on the road? Looks like 2 wins but on any given Saturday... The Seawolves struggle to score averaging only 18.5ppg but are stingy on defense giving up 21 a game.

Stony Brook hasn't lost at home yet this year and the Tribe has only one road win (against a weak sister in MEAC Hampton Pirates). Stony Brook should win, 21-17 up in New York. The Tribe stays on the road with a game against Towson and Stony Brook stays at home with a game against the Black Bears of Maine next week.

 

#5/7 JMU (5-0/7-1) at #6 Richmond (4-1/7-1)

The biggest game in FCS play this weekend. Preseason #3 vs preseason #1 in the CAA. JMU is just mowing people down and is the hottest team in the CAA. How did they do it? They returned 16 starters with 4 selected as 1st Team All-CAA in the preseason, 2 selected to the 2nd team and 6 to the 3rd team. That's a lot of talent for 1st year head coach Mike Houston, who took over for the departed Everett Withers, who went 18-7 in his two seasons at JMU. Withers grabbed a boat load of cash and went to 1-A Texas State. The only team to beat the Dukes of JMU was 1-A ACC UNC, 56-28. The Dukes average almost 50 points a game!!! They give up 24 a game. JMU lost at home last year to Richmond, 59-49.

Richmond enjoys a win over their 1-A ACC opponent, Virginia, with their 37-20 road victory. Their only blemish was a blow out loss at Stony Brook in Week 4, 42-14. Since then they have put up a 5 game win streak matching JMU. How did the Spiders get to where they are today? Remember, they are coming off a Final Four run in the FCS playoffs in 2015 before losing to eventual champion, North Dakota St. and Carson Wentz. They also returned 16 starters but placed 7 players on the 1st Team All- CAA in the preseason and 3 more on the 3rd team. Danny Rocco is one of the top coaches in the FCS Nation. They went undefeated at the Brick House last year and are undefeated there again this year. Richmond averages 31ppg (2nd in the CAA) and gives up 20 a game (3rd best in the CAA).

Can I root for both teams to lose? Richmond because he put his starters back in for the last plays of the game scoring a touchdown against Villanova after leading 16-0 with just seconds to go. And JMU by showing no class in beating teams 80-7, and last week beating URI, 84-7. That's bush league, coach. Since Richmond has had two weeks to prepare for JMU, they are playing at home and Danny Rocco is a more seasoned CAA coach over 1st year Mike Houston, let's give the Spiders a 35-34 win. The Spiders finish with Delaware at home and then at William & Mary. JMU finishes at Villanova and then at home vs Elon.

#10/12 Villanova (4-1/6-2) at #26/32 Maine (4-1/5-3)

Let's talk about the Maine schedule, which is by far the most difficult in the CAA and yet, look at their ranking and record. That's a real tribute to head coach Joe Harasymiak, who took over for the retired Jack Cosgrove after 24 years as the Black Bear mentor. The Black Bears opened up with two 1-A games as they did last year in a 3-8 season. In Week 1 the Black Bears almost upset 1-A AAC UConn(3-6) but lost in the last few minutes, 24-21 in a come-from-behind victory for the Huskies. In Week 2 Maine played 1-A MAC Toledo (7-2), a bowl team from last year, and lost to the Rockets, 45-3. After a bye week Maine played JMU at home and lost, 31-20. In Week 5 Maine would play its last out-of-conference game vs the Northeast Bulldogs of Bryant (3-5) and won 35-31. In Week 6 Maine went down to Delaware and won on the road, 28-21. In Week 7 Maine hosted Top 25 Albany and won, 20-16. In Week 8 the Black Bears went to Rhode Island and won, 28-21. Last week Maine went down to Williamsburg and won over William & Mary, 35-28. Maine jumped out to a 28-7 lead then gave up 2 touchdowns before rallying behind a 67 yard punt return for a touchdown by SO/WR/PR Micah Wright. William & Mary didn't help its cause with two lost fumbles in the Red Zone. Last year Maine went 2-3 at home in their 3-8 season. This year the Bears are 2-1 in Orono with games with Villanova (home), at Stony Brook and home again against New Hampshire.They must get 2 wins out of that group and would have a chance for the playoffs since they played, not one, but two 1-A teams.This is a team that was picked for 9th in the CAA in the preseason.

Maine averages 24ppg to Villanova's 26. Maine gives up 27ppg to Villanova's league leading 16 a game. But remember Maine has played two 1-A teams. In rushing offense Maine ranks 9th in the CAA with 145 yards a game. The Cats are 3rd with 225 yards a game. Maine places no one in the Top 10 of CAA rushers while Villanova has two, SO/RB Aaron Forbes, who has had a great 2nd half of the season, ranking 7th with 75 yards a game and SR/RB Javon White in 10th with 64 yards a game. The strength of the Maine offense is with their SR/QB Dan Collins, who is ranked 2nd in the CAA with 222 passing yards a game and 14 touchdowns for the year. Zach Bednarczyk is ranked 5th with 128 passing yards a game and has thrown 8 touchdown passes. Collins is having a fantastic season and is the reason for their success. His favorite target is SO/WR/PR Micah Wright, who ranks 6th in the CAA. Villanova has no one in the Top 10 of receivers. In pass defense Villanova has moved up to 3rd and Maine is dead last. Zach Bednarczyk simply has to exploit that advantage when the opportunity presents itself (when we are not running with the ball). Maine does very well with their special teams on offense ranked 2nd in punt return yardage and kickoff yardage. Villanova is near the bottom in both categories. Villanova has now taken the lead in the CAA with the most sacks and Maine ranks 10th. However, Maine's O line does a nice job of protecting its QB - much, much better than Villanova's O line. Both teams have the hankies dropped on them with frequency. We must be disciplined and should be with 10 5th year starters. In Red Zone offense Villanova ranks 6th and Maine 11th. In Red Zone defense Villanova ranks 2nd and Maine 7th. 

In 2012 in a 8-4 season for the Cats, we won at Maine, 35-14. In 2013 Maine surprised everyone by winning the CAA and beat the Cats on the Main Line, 37-35. In 2014 with the best player in FCS football, John Robertson, the Cats won at Maine, 41-20 in a 11-3 season, where Maine went 5-6. Last year the Cats went 6-5 and Maine 3-8 and the Cats won at home, 13-3. Let's answer this question. How have the Cats done with two weeks of preparation for a game? In 2012 we beat JMU at home, 35-20. In 2013 we beat Stony Brook at home, 35-6. In 2014 we beat JMU at home, 49-31. Last year we got crushed by William & Mary at home, 38-16.

All week I have changed my mind on the outcome of this game every day. Yesterday it was a Maine win. The change in the coaching staff has re-energized the Black Bears and the kids believe in the system and in themselves. They are hot because they are making plays. They are executing their game plan which is critical to success. They welcome the opportunity to play a Top 10 team with a very good chance of upsetting them and adding to their playoff resume especially at home with November weather that does not make it easy for visitors to play in. Two other factors usually decide the outcome of a game. Who has the better QB and who is home. Maine can win with these two critical factors. Our O line must protect Bednarczyk and he has to play very well for us to win. That's asking a lot from only a sophomore who is coming off a concussion. Thank God for that bye week. Our defense simply has to make a statement and dominate in this game. Obviously whoever wins the turnover battle could win the game. Coach Talley said that four starters wouldn't be playing if it wasn't for the healing bye week. Today I'm leaning to a Villanova win as Maine doesn't tackle well and does give up a lot of yardage (William & Mary put up 469 yards on them but fumbled their way to a loss). Maine does very well with the takeaways. Protect the ball Cats!!! This is a huge game for both teams that could eliminate the loser from the playoffs.

It's really a coin-flip game and the Cats have to come out ready to play and take it to the Black Bears. Something tells me that this is a special year for Maine and they are playing like it. Can defense really win you games? We will find out on Saturday. Cats 21 and Maine 20. Don't ask me tomorrow as I'm likely to switch the outcome. Maine finishes with Stony Brook away and UNH at home, not an easy assignment. The Cats are no different - JMU at home and their rival game with Delaware away in Newark. Whoever wins this Maine game and wins one of their last two probably goes to the playoffs. Let's hope it's the Cats.


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