CAA preview: fighting for yards

CAA preview: fighting for yards
November 14, 2013, 1:45 pm
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(AP Photo/Michael C. York)

Schedule:

Richmond @ Delaware, Sat. 12:00 p.m.
Rhode Island @ Maine, Sat. 12:30 p.m.
Towson @ William & Mary, Sat. 1:30 p.m.
Stony Brook @ James Madison, Sat. 3:30 p.m. on CSN+
New Hampshire @ Albany, Sat. 3:30 p.m.

Matchup of the week: Stony Brook @ James Madison, Sat. 3:30 p.m. on CSN+

If you like a good defensive battle, this is the game for you. Both teams boast formidable defenses that will frustrate their opponents all game long.

Stony Brook has the second best defense in the CAA thanks in large part to their strong pass defense. The Seawolves allow only 184 yards per game through the air. If you wanted to move the ball your best bet used to be the rushing game, but the Seawolves are clamping down on that as well. In their last two games, Stony Brook has allowed a combined 168 rushing yards. If you can’t run or pass on the Seawolves, you’re going to struggle to put points on the board.

James Madison may not have the defensive balance of Stony Brook, but they have been consistently strong against the run. They are the CAA’s top rushing defense, allowing only 98.2 yards per game. The Dukes boast not one, but two of the CAA’s top-five tacklers in Stephon Robertson and Gage Steele. Stony Brook has struggled offensively this year, facing a defense as tough as JMU will really limit what they can do.

It also doesn’t help that James Madison is unbeatable at home. Literally. The Dukes may be 6-4 on the year, but are a perfect 6-0 at home.

Player to watch: Christophe Mulumba, LB, freshman, Maine

With Maine one win away from wrapping up the CAA, it is important they stay focused this week against Rhode Island. Having a two game lead and being able to win the conference against Rhody is a much better position than traveling to New Hampshire in a must-win situation. To that end, they will need their leaders to step up.

Mulumba may be a freshman, but he doesn’t play like one. His 19 tackles last week against Albany were a single-game best in the CAA this season. His performance earned him his second straight CAA Rookie of the Week honors and his fourth on the season.

He has been a defensive force for the Black Bears all year long and is no doubt licking his chops over this matchup. Rhode Island is ranked last in the CAA in pass efficiency, passing offense, scoring offense, and total offense.

This game should be a slam-dunk for Maine, but only if their leaders keep the team focused on the task at hand. The Black Bears need a big day from Mulumba and he is poised to deliver against a weak Rams’ offense.

Upset alert: Towson @ William & Mary, Sat. 1:30 p.m.

The Tigers had their eye on a CAA championship this year, but after two disappointing losses that goal appears to be out of reach. With the conference all but wrapped up for Maine, Towson must remember that they still have games to play before the playoffs.

William & Mary has won three straight against some of the top teams in the conference. The Tribe has climbed to 7-3 thanks in large part to their stalwart defense, the best in the CAA. In their three-game winning streak, the Tribe have given up only a single offensive touchdown. They will be seeking their fourth-consecutive CAA win over an FCS top-20 opponent on Saturday as they host the Tigers.

The Tigers are a better team and coming off a bye, but William & Mary is playing with a lot of confidence. The longer that defense can bottle up star running back Terrance West and the rest of the Tiger offense, the more confident this team will grow. They will come into this game fully expecting to win and the longer the Tigers allow them to hang around, the harder it will be to pull away.