CAA preview: redemption week

CAA preview: redemption week
October 31, 2013, 11:00 am
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Schedule:

Stony Brook @ Maine, Sat. 12:30 p.m.
New Hampshire @ William & Mary, Sat. 1:30 p.m.
Rhode Island @ Old Dominion, Sat. 2:00 p.m.
Villanova @ James Madison, Sat. 2:30 p.m. on CSN+
Albany @ Richmond, Sat. 4:00 p.m.
Delaware @ Towson, Sat. 7:00 p.m.

Matchup of the week: Villanova @ James Madison, Sat. 2:30 p.m. on CSN+

Villanova will look to end their recent skid as they head to James Madison this Saturday. Since handing Towson its first loss of the season, the Wildcats have struggled losing their last two games. The schedule-makers did them no favors with consecutive matchups against Towson, New Hampshire, and Maine and it has definitely taken its toll.

James Madison will also be looking to rebound after a tough 17-7 loss at the hands of William & Mary. The Dukes, however, will be playing at home where they have yet to lose this season.

The key in this one will be the JMU defense against Villanova quarterback John Robertson who last week became the first player in school history to rush for 200 yards in consecutive games. Statistically, the two offenses are evenly matched, but Robertson is the x-factor. The Dukes will need to find a way to contain him in order to avoid losing consecutive games for the first time this season.

Player to watch: Ben Edwards, WR, senior, Richmond

It seems like every week we expect Richmond to bounce back after yet another tough loss, but they have simply been unable to play up to their potential this season. Saturday’s game finally provides the Spiders with their best opportunity to break into the conference win column. Albany is also looking for their first CAA win of the season, but the Great Danes look like they could be in trouble yet again.

Albany is near the bottom of the barrel in the conference in terms of passing defense while Richmond has the conference’s best passing attack led by quarterback Michael Strauss and receiver Ben Edwards.

Edwards averages 8.0 receptions a game which is by far the best in the conference with the next closest receiver averaging only 6.2 catches. As has been the case for the Spiders this season, however, Edwards has struggled to reach the end zone and has only two touchdowns on the season. That will change this Saturday.

Albany has struggled against the pass all season long against offenses far less potent than this one. They have no one that can cover Edwards and he is poised to have a huge game. Perhaps Albany can try to double team him in an attempt to shut him down, but that will only leave room for the rest of the offense. You do not get to be the best passing attack in the conference with only one target for the quarterback to throw to.

Whether it is by hauling in another eight catches or drawing defenders away from his teammates, Edwards will be one of the most important players in this game.

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

Sometimes a team or a coach can just have another team’s number. For William & Mary, that has certainly been the case when it comes to  New Hampshire. The Tribe have won nine of the last 10 meetings with the Wildcats and are coming off a very strong homecoming win over James Madison.

New Hampshire may be riding high on a three-game winning streak that includes a major win over Villanova, but they now have to head to Williamsburg where they have not won since 1998. William & Mary has the best defense in the conference and the eighth best in the country. The Wildcats will struggle to put points on the board. If the offense has a slow start, that history will start to creep into the player's minds adding to their frustration.

William & Mary is a good team and has a good chance at pulling of this upset regardless of the circumstances. Throw in their history with New Hampshire and it just seems like head coach Jimmy Laycock knows how to beat this team.