CAA preview: Towson still in the mix

CAA preview: Towson still in the mix
October 24, 2013, 9:00 am
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Schedule:

Delaware @ Rhode Island, Sat. 12:00  p.m.
Towson @ Richmond, Sat. 12:00 p.m. on CSN
Maine @ Villanova, Sat. 1:00 p.m.
James Madison @ William & Mary, Sat. 3:30 p.m.
New Hampshire @ Stony Brook, Sat. 4:00 p.m.

Matchup of the week: Towson @ Richmond, Sat. 12:00 p.m. on CSN

Towson was able to rebound from their first loss with a 44-17 win over Albany last week. With only one loss, there is still plenty for the Tigers to play for. Five teams currently have only one CAA loss, trailing Maine who thus far remains unscathed at 3-0 in conference play. Should Maine lose, Towson is right back in the mix for the conference title.

They will first have to get by Richmond, however.

To say the season has not gone the way Richmond had planned to this point would be an understatement. The Spiders are 2-5 and may have hit rock bottom last week with a 12-10 loss to Rhode Island, but a big win over Towson may just be enough to turn the season around.

While the Tigers are dominant offensively, Richmond has their fair share of weapons as well. Despite the team’s struggles, quarterback Michael Strauss has put together an impressive season and currently leads the CAA’s top passing attack. Towson is giving up an average of 200.4 passing yards per game, but would be lucky to hold a passer as dangerous as Strauss to only 200 yards.

One problem for the Spiders is that their passing game has not helped establish their rushing game at all. Richmond is last in the CAA in rushing offense with only 97.4 yards per game. The Spiders offense has become completely one dimensional as they rely solely on their passing attack..

Towson has the eighth-best scoring offense among all FCS teams; the Tigers will score points against Richmond. The question for this game is whether the Spiders will be able to do enough through the air to keep up.

Catch the action on CSN at 12 p.m.

Player to watch: Airek Green, LB, junior, William & Mary

The Tribe have one of the best defenses in the nation, ranking eighth overall in the FCS. Airek Green has been a major part of that success with 43 total tackles and two interceptions on the season. What makes him so dangerous this week is that William & Mary will be hosting James Madison, the team with the worst turnover differential in the CAA.

Dukes quarterback Michael Birdsong may have led the Dukes to a 5-2 record thus far, but he has also thrown eight interceptions. The Dukes must be more careful with the ball against a defense as opportunistic as William & Mary.

Green is going to be a thorn in the side of the JMU offense all day. If he can force another interception from a quarterback who has thrown them rather frequently this season, it will be a huge boost for the Tribe.

Upset alert: Maine @ Villanova, Sat. 1:00 p.m.

Two weeks ago, Towson was handed their first loss of the season by Villanova. The Wildcats then found themselves squarely in the driver’s seat on top of the conference…for only one week. Villanova itself was knocked off last week by New Hampshire leaving Maine as the only team still without a loss in conference play. That trend may continue for a third week as Maine travels to Villanova.

Maine very quietly climbed the conference ladder, ascending to take the top spot after dominating wins over Richmond, Delaware, and William & Mary. They have yet to lose to a FCS team this season with their only loss coming in a close one against Northwestern. There is no reason why the Black Bears should lose to a Villanova team that is allowing 259.1 yards per game through the air.

This Villanova team, however, has been overlooked by teams all season. They started off 0-2 but those losses came against Boston College and Fordham. Boston College is an FBS team and Fordham is still unbeaten. The Wildcats then proceeded to win four straight, including the upset win over undefeated Towson, before losing in a tight one last week to New Hampshire. The game was incredibly close and New Hampshire took the one point lead only after scoring a touchdown with 13 seconds left and getting the two point conversion. Had they failed in that attempt, Villanova would still lead the conference and would be looking down on Maine rather than the other way around.

Sometimes teams allow themselves to become fixated on records. Villanova may have three losses, but they are still one of the best teams in the CAA. If the Black Bears forget that heading into Villanova, they will head back home with their first CAA loss.