(HEATHER KHALIFA / THE STATESMAN)
Stony Brook will face the William & Mary Tribe for Homecoming 2014. (HEATHER KHALIFA / THE STATESMAN)

First Down: Will the rushing production continue into conference play?

Stony Brook’s strength on offense has definitely been their rushing attack, with four very capable backs in Stacey Bedell, Marcus Coker, James Kenner and Tyler Fredericks. With Coker underperforming (26 attempts, 59 yards), the bulk of the carries have gone to the sophomore UMass transfer Bedell. Bedell has led the way, carrying for 299 yards on 54 carries along with a pair of touchdowns.

The Colonial Athletic Association has long been known for its physicality, and to run the football, teams need to be hard-nosed and tough when it comes to asserting their dominance against the other teams. Every team but two (SB, Albany), allow more than 100 yards per game on average, and Stony Brook’s opponents allow an average of 195 yards per game on the ground. If the averages hold true, and Stony Brook is able to keep running the ball the way they have been the first three games of the season, the Seawolves should be able to put together a successful conference campaign on the ground.

Second Down: How will the Stony Brook defense fare against the CAA?

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Anybody who has watched the Stony Brook football team over the first four weeks has found a less-than-impressive offense led by two quarterbacks and a shaky offensive line. But they would also notice a defense that has gone toe-to-toe with an FBS team and has kept them in every single game this season.

Stony Brook’s defense has allowed more than 100 yards rushing in only one game and only allowed more than 200 yards of total offense in two of their affairs this season. They have one of the best all-around defensive players in the CAA in Christian Ricard, and a great enforcer in Naim Cheeseboro. Cheeseboro recorded his second interception Saturday, giving him a tie for the conference lead at two.

The defensive line is also something to fear, getting a lot of pressure on the quarterback and a big reason why the running games does not work against them. In a very physical conference, it looks like the Seawolves have the pieces on the defensive end to stay in their conference games.

Third Down: Will Ricard be in the running for Defensive Player of the Year in November?

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To be a rover, you need to have a couple of things: trust instilled in you from your coach, great reaction time and a high IQ on the football field. Ricard, a Spencer, Massachusetts native, has shown both of the on-field qualities, making an impact on a lot of plays throughout the course of a game.

It shows up on the stat sheet as well, as he leads the conference in sacks (five), tackles for loss (8.5), and is eighth at 9.0 tackles per game. Ricard will need to keep this play up, as well as his leadership, when the Seawolves enter CAA play next week against the William & Mary Tribe and beyond if he wishes to be in that conversation when the end of the regular season comes around.

Fourth Down: Can the Seawolves survive the October gauntlet?

Every team has that tough stretch of their schedule, where they maybe play a pair of good teams, but the CAA put together a gauntlet of games for the Seawolves.

During this four-game stretch, Stony Brook plays at Towson (Oct. 4), vs. Maine (Oct. 11), at Elon (Oct. 18), at New Hampshire (Oct. 25). Towson, Maine, and New Hampshire finished as No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 in the CAA last season, and all three teams defeated Stony Brook in the previous campaign, with the Tigers and Wildcats coming into LaValle Stadium and defeating the Seawolves. Maine took down Stony Brook in Orono last season.

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The Black Bears non-conference was not too tough, as they defeated Norfolk State at home, before losing at Bryant and at Boston College.

Maine was picked to finish seventh in the preseason CAA poll. New Hampshire is now 1-0 in their CAA campaign, defeating Richmond by three, making it two wins in a row on their season now.

The Towson Tigers have three preseason-All Americans coming in, and will look to be better than their predicted fifth place finish in the preseason polls.

Extra Point: Looking ahead to homecoming

Next week, the Seawolves bring in the William & Mary Tribe for homecoming at Stony Brook University, with a 6 p.m. kickoff scheduled at LaValle Stadium.

These two teams have not played since Stony Brook moved to Division I back in 2002, so there will probably be a little bit of a feeling-out process in this game.

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It will be interesting to see if the offense can snap out of their woes and put up some points, something they have struggled with against Division I opponents this season.

The defense will also look to keep up its hot streaks. They have gone three straight games without allowing 100 yards on the ground.

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