The bye week has come and gone, and with a little less than half of the season remaining, it is time to take a look at the first half of the Stony Brook football season (4-3, 1-2 CAA).
Losing a three-year starter is never easy, but that does not necessarily mean that an offense will fall flat in the following season. Tyquell Fields, who beat out fellow redshirt-junior Jack Cassidy for the starting job, has done a fairly decent job leading the Seawolves offense.
For Fields, the season has been full of highs and lows. The high: a 50-yard touchdown (TD) run with 11 seconds remaining against Rhode Island. A big low: completing only five of his 14 passes for 26 yards in a 62-7 loss at Utah State. During that game, Cassidy came in for relief, completing 14 of 28 for 129 yards, one TD and one interception.
Fields ranks dead last in the CAA in completion percentage (51.0), but third in pass efficiency (146.6). His struggles in certain areas, like overthrowing receivers, are balanced out by his ability to run if the pocket collapses. Fields has scored two touchdowns on the ground while gathering 253 rushing yards on 56 carries.
Offensive line: B+
Seven Seawolves have rushed for a combined 1,764 yards gained, averaging 235.3 yards per game which is ranked No. 14 in the entire FCS, while scoring 15 touchdowns via the run. Last year, the team scored 20 rushing TDs in 11 games. At the current pace, the Seawolves would score 26 rushing TDs in 12 games, surpassing last year’s total by more than 25%.
The offensive line, led by redshirt-seniors Mason Zimmerman and Joe Detorie, as well as redshirt-sophomores James Tunstall — a transfer from UConn — and Kyle Nunez, has allowed only nine sacks on the season for a total loss of 48 yards. A lot of the offensive success should be credited to the offensive line for buying time for the plays to progress.
Running Backs: A
Redshirt-freshman Ty Son Lawton leads the CAA in rushing TDs (six), while team captain, redshirt-senior Isaiah White, is tied for second in the conference, with five. Add in redshirt-sophomore Seba Nekhet and his two rushing touchdowns, and the three Seawolves rank fourth, sixth and fifth respectively in rushing yards per game in the CAA.
White, who spent the past three seasons on defense after taking snaps at running back his freshman year, was originally slated to be the go-to running back. Things have not played out that way, having suited up but taking only one snap in the past two games due to injury. Lawton has also struggled with injuries this season, missing two games while exiting two more with injuries. Taking into account all the injuries and time spent not on the field, the Seawolves’ running game has not missed a beat.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends: B-
Graduate-transfer wide receiver Jean Constant has not so quietly put together an impressive season. Tied for first on the team with 22 receptions, five of which have been caught for touchdowns, Constant is averaging 51.29 yards receiving per game.
Aside from Constant, Fields loves to throw the ball to two redshirt-seniors wide receivers: Nick Anderson and Andrew Trent. Anderson is tied with Constant for team lead in receptions (22), while he leads the team in total yards (429) and has one receiving touchdown on the season. While Trent has not caught a pass for a touchdown, he has caught 14 passes for 353 yards, including numerous 20 yard plus passes, helping Fields spread out the defenders. Redshirt-freshman tight end Isaiah Givens, statistically the most productive tight end this season, has not appeared in many games due to injury, but pulled in two catches for touchdowns in the season opening victory against Bryant.
Front Seven: B
The defensive linemen, led by senior Sam Kamara, redshirt-seniors Keegan Henderson and Odean Gilzene, redshirt-freshman Makye Smith and redshirt-sophomore Casey Williams, has allowed opposing teams to average 127.6 rushing yards per game, while managing to sack the quarterback 17 times for a combined loss of 111 yards, as well as forcing eight fumbles and recovered four.
Week two and six losses against Utah State and James Madison (JMU) respectively, are games the line would like to forget. Combining those two games, the line allowed 654 rushing yards and nine rushing touchdowns.
Heading into the season, redshirt-senior defensive back Gavin Heslop was expected to be the biggest producer on defense. While he is the unquestioned leader, redshirt-junior rover Augie Contressa has far and away been the most productive defender. Contressa’s 55 total tackles are 12 more than the next closest defender, while also leading the team in tackles for loss (eight) and tied for second with two sacks on the season.
Comparing Stony Brook to the rest of the CAA teams, their defense is middle of the pack in almost every major category: interceptions, yards allowed and passing touchdowns allowed. Middle of the pack defense is not what Stony Brook is known for. Allowing the third most completions in the CAA (148), while ranking ninth in interceptions (three), opposing teams have completed 64.6% of their passes, second most in the CAA.
The five remaining games are against very pass heavy teams, and the secondary will need to step up its play, which is not out of the realm of possibility. But they will need some big time performances.
Special Teams: B
Redshirt-senior kicker Nick Courtney has made five of his seven field goal attempts, notably hitting a 47-yard field goal with five seconds left in the fourth quarter against JMU to tie the game. But missed field goals cannot be overlooked. In the same JMU game, Courtney missed a 37-yard kick in the third quarter, and had a 30-yard kick blocked in the third quarter of a game against Fordham.
Redshirt-junior punter Mitch Wright, who can punt using both feet, has been the most used counter in the entire CAA. Punting 37 times throughout the seven games for a total of 1,499 yards, and an average of 40.51 yards per punt, Wright has been a consistent player on special teams.
Every team deals with injuries, it is a big part of sports and football in specific. Even though injuries are to be expected, sometimes the injury bug strikes more often than one would envision. Kamara, one of the team captains, has missed the past two games — two very important games, with a shoulder injury and his return is unknown. Givens has missed four games on the season, Lawton and White have missed significant time, while redshirt-freshman running back Alex Indelicato is out for the year after playing in the first game of the season. Junior wide receiver Brandon Benson, a transfer from Southern Methodist University (SMU), missed three games with an ankle injury before making a special teams appearance in the loss to New Hampshire.
The Seawolves resume action next Saturday Oct. 26 at Villanova University with kickoff set for 3:30 p.m. A win against the Wildcats would give the Seawolves some much needed momentum in the second half of the season.