The Stony Brook football team currently stands alone at the bottom of the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) following a 24-14 defeat at New Hampshire last Saturday. The Seawolves (0-5, 0-4 CAA) are the only winless team remaining in the conference. They will travel to the Bronx this Saturday to take on No. 17/22 Fordham in hopes of ending their drought.
The Rams are 5-1 on the season and 2-0 in conference play in the Patriot League. Fordham is coming off a 40-28 victory over Lehigh last Saturday. The Rams boast one of the FCS’s best offenses, averaging 49.8 points per game this season. Their performance against Lehigh was their lowest scoring total of the year, as they have scored at least 40 points in all six games this year.
In order for Stony Brook to secure its first win of the season, the defense is going to have to find a way to somehow contain the explosive Rams offense. Fordham’s offense ranks first in many offensive categories in the FCS. The unit is off to an explosive start leading the nation in total offense and offensive touchdowns with 40. The Rams have averaged 8.18 yards per play and 626 yards per game, which are all atop the FCS leaderboards.
If the Seawolves are to stand a chance, their secondary is going to have to play a major role. They will be tasked with limiting Fordham’s lethal passing attack, which is easier said than done. The unit averages 442 passing yards per game and over 16 yards per completion. The Rams like to air the ball out, as 16 of their 30 passing touchdowns this season have been on plays over 30 yards. Stony Brook currently owns the fourth-worst pass defense in the CAA. The Seawolves will have to find a way to limit Fordham’s opportunities for big plays, especially through the air. Safety play from Randy Pringle and Jordan Jackson will have to be on point in order for the unit to not get burned over the top.
The Rams’ offense boasts plenty of playmakers that serve as a threat to Stony Brook. No other challenge will loom harder than quarterback Tim DeMorat. DeMorat is off to an incredible start to the season, totaling an FCS-best 30 passing touchdowns and 2652 passing yards. He has yet to throw under 340 passing yards in a game this season and has thrown for at least four touchdowns in every game. DeMorat has been named Patriot League Player of the week five times this season and has already broken several Fordham records.
DeMorat has plenty of weapons to distribute the ball to, including wide receiver Fotis Kokosioulis. DeMorat and Kokosioulis have become a dynamic duo that has done nothing but cause problems for opposing defenses all season long. Kokosioulis is currently winning the receiving triple crown in the FCS and is making an All-American bid. He has tallied 52 catches for 770 yards and eight touchdowns, all of which lead the nation.
Fordham’s offense is balanced and can score on the ground, as well. The Rams average 183.5 rushing yards per game. It might not be possible to shut down the Fordham offense, but Stony Brook’s defense must find a way to at least slow them down if they hope to stand a chance.
The Stony Brook offense finds itself on the complete opposite side of the spectrum, currently ranking 116th in the FCS in total offense out of 123 teams. The offense has failed to score over 14 points this season, as they average an anemic 9.6 points per game. This week’s matchup will present Stony Brook with its best opportunity to improve these numbers, as Fordham also owns one of the worst defenses in the FCS (41.7 points allowed per game).
The pass defense of Fordham is the worst in the nation, allowing 346 passing yards per game. In the team’s only loss of the season, the Rams surrendered 537 passing yards and four touchdowns to Ohio. Stony Brook must exploit the weak Fordham pass defense to keep up with the Rams’ offense.
The offense is going to have to be Stony Brook’s best defense against Fordham. Though the unit has been poor this season, a good performance could potentially keep the Fordham offense on the sideline for long stretches. In order to pull that off, the Seawolves must figure out a way to stay on the field. They are currently the worst third-down offense in the CAA, converting on just 21.5% of their third down chances. If they keep possession of the ball and take full advantage of Fordham’s defense, that will ensure that DeMorat and company will not be torching their defense for too long.
It is unclear which quarterback will get the start this week for the Seawolves, but freshman Charlie McKee will be a player to look out for. McKee impressed in his debut last week, keeping Stony Brook in the game for much of the second half. In just one half of play, McKee totaled more passing yards than any other Seawolf quarterback has thrown for in a full game this season. McKee threw for 190 yards while completing 18 of his 26 passes with a touchdown and an interception. He could very well be the spark the offense has been in dire need of, especially this week against a historically bad pass defense.
One player to watch for the Stony Brook defense is linebacker Reidgee Dimanche. The sixth-year veteran will play a pivotal role in limiting the powerful Fordham offense. Dimanche continues to rack up tackles, ranking eighth in the CAA in total tackles with 44. For the second straight week, Dimanche was able to force a turnover as he forced a fumble against New Hampshire after recording an interception the week prior against William & Mary. If Dimanche can keep this up, the Stony Brook defense stands a much better chance against the number-one offense in the nation.
This game may be the toughest one on the Seawolves’ schedule thus far. Though the four CAA teams they have faced were all either ranked or receiving votes in the national polls, this Fordham team is going to force Stony Brook to get into a track meet. For a team that averages over 40 fewer points per game than Fordham, it seems unlikely that the Seawolves can win playing that brand of football. However, only time will tell.