Redshirt freshman linebacker Tyler King makes a tackle in a game against New Hampshire on Sept. 2. The Seawolves plan on redeeming themselves after their loss to New Hampshire in their game against the Colgate Raiders on Sept. 11. TIM GIORLANDO/THE STATESMAN

The Seawolves will travel upstate to face the Colgate Raiders on Saturday, Sept. 11 at Andy Kerr Stadium, looking to rebound from last Thursday’s painful season-opening loss to New Hampshire.

The non-conference section of the schedule has been extremely kind to the Stony Brook football team in previous years. Since 2016, the Seawolves have not lost a regular-season non-conference game to a fellow Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) team, winning their last seven by an average of 26.1 points. Since joining the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA), Stony Brook is 12-3 in these games.

It will be the first meeting between these two schools since 2013, with Stony Brook leading the all-time series 3-1.

On the surface, Colgate does not present an intimidating task. The team lost the only two games it played in the shortened spring season and finished 4-8 in 2019. Unlike the CAA, the Patriot League, the Raiders’ conference, has historically been a one-bid conference, having last sent multiple teams to the FCS Playoffs in 2015. 

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The Raiders played three CAA teams in 2019, losing to each team by at least two touchdowns. This included a 28-point loss to William & Mary, who finished near the bottom of the CAA that year.

Stan Dakotsy is Colgate’s first-year head coach, taking over for Dan Hunt, who stepped down after violating an unspecified university policy. Dakotsky has been on the Raiders’ coaching staff since 2007 and was most recently the associate head coach.

Colgate has experience under center, boasting senior quarterback Grant Breneman. Breneman was given the keys to the Raiders’ offense at a young age, starting nine of 10 games in his freshman season en route to posting the most passing yards and touchdowns by a rookie quarterback in program history. 

In his sophomore and junior years, Breneman led the Patriot League in completion percentage despite the Raiders finishing last in passing yards per game. Backed by the top rushing attack and defense in the conference, Colgate had a 10-2 season and advanced to the FCS quarterfinals in 2018. 

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However, the Raiders’ run game and defense regressed to the mean in the following season, and it was not enough to overcome Breneman’s aerial yardage deficiencies.

Like Stony Brook’s starting quarterback, Breneman is not afraid to use his feet, regularly eclipsing the double-digit mark in rush attempts. Colgate’s listed first-string running back is sophomore Max Hurleman, who has played in just three collegiate games. The Seawolves’ defense was able to hold New Hampshire to just 126 rushing yards and 3.6 yards per carry last week. Breneman may very well be the Raiders’ most threatening piece on the ground this Saturday.

“They utilize the quarterback in the run game,” head coach Chuck Priore said on Monday’s conference media call. “A lot of pull schemes, read things, a lot of option-type fundamentals offensively.”

Senior defensive back Akeal Lalaind led the Stony Brook defense with 12 tackles and a 48-yard fumble recovery, while redshirt freshman linebacker Tyler King recorded seven tackles and a forced fumble. These two names figure to again play big roles on Saturday, this time without having to constantly defend short fields on consecutive possessions.

Stony Brook will need graduate quarterback Tyquell Fields to come out stronger and exhibit better accuracy. Fields threw for just 57 yards in the first half with more interceptions (two) than third-down conversions (none) and had a completion percentage under 50% for the game. In the fourth quarter alone, however, Fields had 111 passing yards and an additional 57 on the ground. 

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Colgate’s run defense appears permeable, giving up 90-yard rushing games to running backs in both of last season’s contests. In last week’s 51-0 blowout loss to Boston College, Raiders junior linebacker Tyler Flick emerged as the team’s leader with 11 tackles after entering the contest with a career total of six. 

Fields was Stony Brook’s top rusher against New Hampshire. Starting running back Ty Son Lawton, a redshirt junior, put up 42 yards on 17 carries. The Wildcats’ boasted one of the top defenses in the CAA, but Colgate finished dead last in the Patriot League for rushing yards per game in 2019. Thus, there is a golden opportunity for Lawton and the rest of the Seawolves’ backfield to bloom.

The Patriot League picked Colgate to finish at the bottom out of seven teams in its preseason poll. Facing a middling opponent from a less prestigious conference, Stony Brook needs to build off last week’s second half and put Colgate away.

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