First Down: Stony Brook’s defense is a team effort
So much has been said about the efforts of Christian Ricard and Naim Cheeseboro this season, but people forget there are tons of contributors. It showed Saturday night against Maine, as the Seawolves used everybody in their arsenal to contain the Blackbears to a mere 135 yards. Not that they have not been around all campaign long, but seeing Jeremy Leggiero swarm the football regardless of whether it was a running or passing play was quite reassuring. Ousmane Camara contributed three big tackles at key moments, including during Maine’s first drive of the fourth quarter when he stopped any brewing Blackbear momentum, eventually leading to a turnover-on-downs. Davonte Anderson once again showed that he is as much of a threat on defense as the receiver who he covers, leaping up for a big interception in the second quarter, not giving Maine another deep completion that awarded them their only score of the game.
Second Down: No turnovers leads to no losses
There was one thing about the game Saturday night that was different from the rest of Stony Brook’s season. In the interception and turnover column, there were big zeroes for the only time this year against Football Championship Subdivision opponents. Although there were some careless penalties early on, it is a good sign that Stony Brook is starting to take care of the football. For a team that is not the most explosive on the offensive side of the ball, it is important to have an opportunity to capitalize on every drive, and turning it over does not help that cause. Adding to that is decision making, especially coming from quarterback Conor Bednarski. One of his passes would have been picked off if not for the defender in the area tripping over his own feet, but otherwise, he was wise with his pass attempts. If this continues, it certainly will not hurt the Seawolves.
Third Down: The offensive line looks to slowly be meshing together
Early on against Maine, the Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium crowd was quiet, as the offense was not moving the ball. Whether it has any connection or not, coach Chuck Priore stormed over to the offensive bench while the defense held its ground like usual and seemingly laced into his linemen. Pretty much from the start of the second half, the bull rushing of the Blackbears was not pushing Stony Brook’s offensive line off of the line of scrimmage, right into their own backfield. The extra couple of yards of free space that the Seawolves running backs had not only opened up holes in the line, but gave them more time to find them. This made rushes for a loss of yards or nothing at all turn into a consistent, penetrating run attack that looked as if it tired the Maine defense. Bednarski was not rushed out of the pocket, running for his life, but able to take his drop, set and throw, which led to many connections with Jahrie Level on the evening. If the offensive line did not pick its game up, the result may not have been the same.
Fourth Down: Victor Ochi is going from contributor to destroyer, and quickly
For anybody who sat in the general admission seats for Saturday night’s game, there was one cry that was constantly heard: “Get him Victor!” The coaches in Stony Brook’s box on top of LaValle Stadium could not stop bellowing those very words, and they were not for bad reasons. Every time one stopped to look at the kids running around, or Wolfie interacting with fans, Ochi was blasting his way through Maine’s offensive line to put pressure on quarterback Dan Collins.
What does not show up on the statistic sheet is that Ochi did not necessarily finish off a lot of these plays, but rather flushed his target right into the grasp of one of his teammates. On the night, he had two tackles for loss, including a big sack. Ochi’s performance this season is one of the major reasons that Stony Brook has had such a dominant defense.
Extra Point: Two in a row is good, but there are games to play
The Seawolves head down to North Carolina next week for an important road game in Colonial Athletic Association play against Elon. The Phoenix have not gotten off to a good start of their CAA slate, falling to New Hampshire and Delaware. With only one win on the season, Elon will not have the most confidence in the world heading into the biggest game of their year against the Seawolves.
Stony Brook will have to continue using its multi-pronged rushing attack to control the tempo of the game, allowing its defense to rest, which should let the team continue their dominant season. Like most Stony Brook games, do not expect a shootout, but beware, Elon is backed into a corner. Do not be shocked to see them want out with the Seawolves in their way.