First down: Bedell is a top-2 back in the CAA
Stony Brook as a team does not have the greatest rushing offense in the conference, as the Seawolves are sitting middle of the road at seventh. Averaging 158.5 yards per game, this is not necessarily a great total. But on the individual side, Stacey Bedell is proving to be one of the best backs in the conference.
He is second in the league in rushing, averaging just over 105 yards per game, only behind Albany’s Omar Osbourne who is averaging 115. Bedell is also tied for second in rushing touchdowns with six. For running backs that are averaging at least 10 carries per game, he is first at 5.6 yards per touch.
What is even more impressive is the all-purpose yardage that he is able to put up. Bedell averages 119 yards per game, which is still good for sixth in the conference. Osbourne is the only other player ahead of him that does not have triple digits in two categories, so the dominance on the ground from Bedell has a big impact.
Second down: Slowly but surely, here comes the offense
Let us just state the obvious to start: the Stony Brook offense was not very good at the start of the season. Even now, the Seawolves are ninth in scoring offense at 15 points a game, they are seventh in rushing and they are last in passing at 129.3 yards per game.
Overall they are the tenth best offense in the league based on an average of 287.8 yards per game. The only thing that is top five in the conference right now is their kicking game, which is 4/5 in field goals.
After starting the season putting up only one double-digit effort, a 19-16 loss at UConn, the Seawolves offense has started to make some headway when they made the switch to Conor Bednarski from John Kinder.
This offense has put up double-digit efforts in all four of its CAA games, which has helped the defense in terms of rest and if the offense does not score, the opposition has a longer field to go. Bednarski coming into the quarterback role has made defenses respect the pass, which balances out the offense.
This respect earned for the pass game has opened up holes for Bedell and company to run, and it has given this offense the semblance of balance that they had been searching for through the first third of the season.
Third down: Best defense in the country has a home on Long Island
You read that right. Stony Brook now has the best defense in the country, allowing 220.5 yards per game. Yes, ahead of Stanford. Yes, ahead of Alabama. Way ahead actually, as the leading FBS defense is Louisville, which has allowed 245.8 yards per game.
As far as FCS teams, the Seawolves allow nearly 30 yards less per game than the next best defense, Norfolk State. Breaking it down, Stony Brook is third in rushing defense behind Princeton and Sacred Heart. They are fifth in passing yards allowed and they are second in scoring defense behind perennial FCS powerhouse North Dakota State. Still not impressed?
The Seawolves are second in the country in allowing third downs, as opposing offenses only convert 23.5 percent of them against the Seawolves defense. They are also second in red zone defense, allowing only 50 percent of the trips converted into points.
What is even more impressive in this stat is that of the nine scores Stony Brook has allowed in the red zone, seven of them have been field goals. The team has only allowed two touchdowns in 18 opposing red zone trips. That is by far the best opposing touchdown percentage in the red zone in the FCS.
Fourth down: Punters are
Rich Eisen of the NFL Network made the saying famous more as a joke than a serious statement. But it is true.
Luke Allen has the third-highest average punt distance-wise in the conference at 40.8 yards per kick. He is the owner of the longest punt in both the CAA this season and in Seawolves history with a 72-yard boot against Elon Saturday.
He also has the most kicks inside the 20 with 23, which is eight more than the kicker behind him. He has forced the same amount of fair catches, which is seven more than second place. The only thing he is not top of the conference in is 50+ yard kicks.
That is okay; he is second with eight, which is only one behind Eric Enderson, who has nine. When the offense is not finishing off drives with scores, Allen has been sure to leave the opposition with a long field to go, and with the defense that Stony Brook has, that leaves an almost impossible task to go score.
Extra point: Time to find out how serious this team is
Through the four non-conference games, it looked like Stony Brook with be just another run-of-the-mill, always around .500 team like it was last year. But something has clicked.
Whether it was the quarterback change or something else in the locker room, this looks like a completely different team than the one that lost to Bryant a month and a half ago.
This team looks determined to get to a conference crown, or at least be in contention for one. Next week will show how serious this team actually is.
The top defense in the league is going up against the second-best scoring offense in the league in New Hampshire. The Wildcats average 37.7 points per game, and are fourth in yardage, averaging 470 yards per game.
They also have let up the fewest sacks in the league, while Stony Brook has the most sacks.
In this great offense versus great defense battle, Stony Brook will hope it worked out like it did for the Seahawks in the Super Bowl, with the defense taking over.