CAA preview: Towson still undefeated

CAA preview: Towson still undefeated
October 3, 2013, 9:00 am
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(Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports)

Schedule:

New Hampshire @ Towson, Sat. 12:00 p.m. on CSN+
William & Mary @ Villanova, Sat. 1:00 p.m.
Albany @ James Madison, Sat. 1:30 p.m.
Delaware @ Maine, Sat. 3:30 p.m.
Bryant @ Stony Brook, Sat. 6:00 p.m.
Rhode Island @ Brown, Sat. 6:00 p.m.

Macthup of the week: New Hampshire @ Towson, Sat. 12:00 p.m. on CSN+

New Hampshire got caught looking ahead last week and saw their nine-game winning streak against Lehigh snapped in a 34-27 loss to the Mountain Hawks. The Wildcats were able to move the ball well, but the defense struggled tremendously allowing 465 yards. That does not bode well against a Towson team that has been rolling so far this season.

The Tigers are 5-0 including a win over FBS Connecticut and last week’s win over Stony Brook. Towson fell behind 14-0 in the first quarter, the largest deficit they have faced since last October, but roared back to win 35-21.

Towson will rely greatly on star running back Terrence West, who ranks 6th among FCS running backs in rushing yards. West has been a scourge against New Hampshire, scoring six touchdowns in their past two meetings. New Hampshire is allowing 147.3 rushing yards per game, but will need a strong performance to contain West.

The Wildcats may have struggled to start the season, but they are no slouches. There two losses came against FBS Central Michigan and undefeated Lehigh. Running back Nico Steriti ran for a season-high 116 yards last week. Quarterback Andy Vailas is a dual threat with 107 rushing yards and 516 passing yards on the season. West may be the biggest weapon on the field, but Towson cannot forget about the weapons on the other sideline.

Is New Hampshire a legitimate contender or is Towson the powerhouse they appear to be? This will be a critical CAA matchup.

Player to watch: Axel Ofori, DB, junior Maine

Delaware is 4-1 on the season and that is largely due to their offense, which ranks second in the CAA. Maine’s defense came up big against Richmond last week, forcing three interceptions on their way to a 28-21 upset win. They will need a similar effort this week against Delaware and that starts with Ofori.

Ofori has broken up three passes and caught one interception this season. The Blue Hens like to sling the ball around and quarterback Trent Hurley already has five interceptions through five games. Delaware will try to throw the ball and it is up to Ofori will have to keep them in check. If he can keep the Blue Hens from racking up the big plays and maybe force a turnover, he will make one of the CAA’s most dynamic offenses suddenly one-dimensional.

Upset alert: Bryant @ Stony Brook, Sat. 6:00 p.m.

The Stony Brook defense will butt heads the Wagner offense in this matchup as Stony Brooks looks to avoid losing their fourth straight game.

The Seawolves jumped out to a 14-0 lead over Towson last week, but could not build upon their great start and ended up falling 35-21. Still, Stony Brook remains the conference leader in pass defense and is fourth in total defense.

The defense is on a collision course with a strong Bryant offense that has carried the Bulldogs to a 3-1 start for the fourth time in five seasons. In those first four games, the offense has posted over 400 yards three times.

Last week’s game against Towson revealed cracks in an otherwise stout Stony Brook defense. Against another strong offense this week, the Seawolves need a big rebound from their defense or they risk a fourth-straight loss.

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