Following a heartbreaking loss against James Madison, the Stony Brook football team (4-6) will conclude its home schedule by facing the Rhode Island Rams (0-10) on Saturday.
Stony Brook is coming off of two excruciating losses against Football Championship Subdivision heavyweights New Hampshire and James Madison, so a home matchup against FCS bottom-feeder Rhode Island might be just what the doctor ordered.
In their last game, the Seawolves found themselves in control against a playoff-bound James Madison squad, scoring 24 points and building a 14-point lead in the first half. However, Stony Brook began to unravel late in the first half and the whole second half, allowing James Madison to score 17 unanswered points and escape with a 27-24 victory.
The inability to sustain leads has plagued the Seawolves in their marquee matchups, as they have been outscored 16-52 in the last three quarters of their last two games—during both of which, the Seawolves led by double digits.
A lot of the Seawolves’ second half struggles against James Madison were a result of their difficulty containing dual-threat quarterback Vad Lee and the rest of the James Madison pass offense. After holding Lee to no touchdowns in the first half, the Seawolves lost containment on the elusive quarterback in the second half, allowing him to throw for two scores, including a 76-yard shot in the fourth quarter that flattened any momentum or will the Seawolves had left.
Stony Brook’s failure to finish off drives in the second half, paired with the Seawolves’ difficulty clamping down and getting crucial stops, ultimately doomed their chances at a much-needed home victory.
On the other side of Saturday’s matchup, Rhode Island will limp into Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium winless and coming off of a 27-point beat down at the hands of New Hampshire—a team that defeated Stony Brook by only eight points.
The main reason for the Rams’ loss to New Hampshire was their lack of resistance on the ground or through the air. Against New Hampshire, Rhode Island surrendered an alarming 390 yards passing. That defensive outing mirrors what the Rams have done all season, where they have surrendered 36.7 points and 475.5 yards per game.
On the other side of the ball, Rhode Island rolls out an offense that does not hide the flaws and blemishes of its defense. The Rams average a paltry 267.4 yards per game, which is good for 111th-best in the FCS.
The Rams’ lack of offensive production bodes well for a Stony Brook defense that still ranks fourth in the nation, allowing only 263.3 yards per game. Although Stony Brook’s defense has only forced 15 turnovers on the year, Victor Ochi and the rest of the defense should benefit from a turnover-prone Rhode Island offense that ranks dead last in turnovers lost with 29.
The defense should also be able to capitalize on miscues made by the Rams’ freshman starting quarterback, James Caparell. In addition to being a young quarterback, Caparell has been known to give the ball away, throwing nine interceptions to only three touchdowns in eight games. Caparell also has five fumbles on the season, which is something that should excite Ochi and Christian Ricard, both of whom are adept at getting to opposing quarterbacks. The two FCS National Defensive Performer of the Year nominees have combined for 19.5 sacks and three forced fumbles.
But even when Caparell does complete passes, they are not exactly in the most ideal positions either, as he only averages 5.5 yards per attempt and 82.6 yards per game, which would allow Stony Brook’s stingy rush defense (94.1 yards per game) to stack the box and put the squeeze on Rhode Island’s offense.
While senior defensive back Davonte Anderson and the rest of the Seawolves defense look to capitalize on a weak Rhode Island offense, running backs Stacey Bedell and Marcus Coker should look to exploit a leaky Rhode Island run defense.
Even though the Rams’ defense yields 236.6 yards rushing per game, senior linebacker Andrew Bose, who has tallied 104 tackles and 4.5 sacks on the year, will provide for some intriguing moments when he finds himself matched up in the open field with Coker and Bedell. Although Bose does provide Coker and Bedell with a formidable adversary, the two running backs should both be able to top 100 yards against a Rhode Island defense that is predisposed to providing large running lanes for opposing backs.
Conor Bednarski, who has ramped up his production the past couple games—243.5 yards per game and four touchdowns—should also have a field day against a Rams’ secondary that is inclined to give up big pass plays. In their last game, Rhode Island gave up pass plays of 80 and 51 yards to New Hampshire quarterbacks, which bodes well for Bednarski and his slew of emerging receivers.
If the Seawolves can avoid the late-game turnovers and finish drives, they should be in a good position to be able to move the ball with ease on a weak Rhode Island defense. And on the defensive side of the ball, the Seawolves need to maintain the intensity that they bring in the first quarter of games over the course of the whole game.
Stony Brook enters this game hungry for a win in its home finale, which does not bode well for a Rhode Island team trying to avoid a repeat of last year’s matchup with the Seawolves, a 24-0 loss. The Seawolves look to be better than the Rams in every category, so if they can avoid making a couple of colossal mistakes, they should be poised to get one more win at home and send the Rams packing with an 0-11 record.