Slight movement shakes up the bottom of the rankings
By Jack Fitzpatrick
Another week of non-conference Colonial Athletic Association action and another week of quite interesting play on the football field. James Madison University and Elon were again the only two CAA teams to play a non-conference game and there was a whole half of football where it looked quite possible BOTH were going to fall Big South opponents.
One team got their mistakes figured out and the other lost by three possessions. For the most part, the rankings don’t change all that much but since a week of football was still played I felt like the rankings should be updated nonetheless.
So, let’s dive in!
- JMU (South) 2-0, 0-0
JMU was coming off an absolutely dominating performance against Morehead State in Week 1. They put up 52 points and held the Eagles scoreless. After that performance, it looked like JMU may never play a close game all season.
Then week 2 occurred and we all collectively gasped at the three interceptions Cole Johnson threw and we all scratched our heads at the abysmal first half of football played.
Curt Cignetti had some pointed words in the post-game press conference about how the team didn’t take Robert Morris seriously and it showed in the first half. (And oh boy how I wish I could’ve been a fly on the wall in that locker room at halftime.)
JMU buckled down in the second half and allowed just 40-some yards and no points and looked like the clear-cut better team. Because of the second-half performance, paired with the fact, other top CAA teams didn’t play, JMU maintains the one spot.
We could all freak about this game but it is hard for me to. It is a 2021 spring season and it was a game against a solid Robert Morris team. Look, this wasn’t the same Colonials team from 2018 and frankly leading up to the game there were reports they wanted revenge. JMU played their worst game, and more specifically half, of football since the Colgate game in the 2018 playoffs and JMU still managed to win by 20. This is STILL a national title contender.
- Villanova (North) 0-0, 0-0
Villanova will get its season going on March 6 against Stony Brook at noon. While Stony Brook isn’t a top-tier contender in the CAA they are always a solid program that gives everyone a run for their money. It is an early-season test for a dark-horse national title contender.
- New Hampshire (North) 0-0, 0-0
New Hampshire kicks off its season against Albany on Friday, March 5 with a 7 PM kick. The Wildcats are at home for the Friday night lights game which does play to their advantage. This is going to be an early-season contender for the CAA game of the year. This game will be an early test for the New Hampshire defense and if they want to be a top-tier contender with a shot at the playoffs this is a must-win.
- Albany (North) 0-0, 0-0
The Great Danes were the darling worst-to-first story of the CAA last season behind Jeff Undercuffler and the plethora of upper-classmen receivers Albany had at its disposal. Now, they have a new group of receivers that the Undercuffler will be throwing to and they have their hands full against an experienced New Hampshire team that desperately wants to make it back to the playoffs after missing it the last two seasons. This is the ultimate early-season test for the Great Danes and if they want to be considered as a top team in the CAA they need to look competitive and pull out the win. I know I said the game of the year in the CAA earlier, but this may be an FCS spring season game of the year!
- Delaware (North) 0-0, 0-0
Redshirt-Junior QB Nolan Henderson looks to get the Blue Hens season off on the right wing (get it?) as they host Maine on Saturday, March 6. The No. 25 team in the country returns a large number of contributors from the last season and they may surprise some people with a solid CAA conference run.
- Maine (North) 0-0, 0-0
Maine travels to Delaware to take on the Blue Hens. This is a middle-of-the-road team that is good, not great. That can change if they dominate the Blue Hens, but I just don’t see them being in the mix at the end of the season come playoff time. (It really doesn’t help the Bears that they are playing in the North, if they were in the South they could easily be a competitor.)
- Stony Brook (North) 0-0, 0-0
Stony Brook gets its season going at home against Villanova. Tyquell Fields & Co. will have their hands full in this one.
- William & Mary (South) 0-0, 0-0
William & Mary start the season on Saturday at Richmond. This will be a great Barometer game for the Tribe, was their growth at the end of 2019 for real? Or was it just beating up on bottom-dweller teams. We shall see…
- Richmond (South) 0-0, 0-0
The media is high on Richmond. They received preseason top-25 votes and that is something I jut don’t understand. They, like the Tribe, showed some signs of life at the end of last season, but not enough to justify receiving votes! Sorry, I digress. I like the trajectory of the Tribe so much more than the Spiders but they can shut me up real quick and move up some spots in the power rankings with a win.
- Rhode Island (North) 0-0, 0-0
Somehow, someway I don’t think Rhode Island will be the worst team in the CAA this season. I said it would take a lot for them to move from the bottom spot but it happened. Congrats to the Rams.
- Elon (South) 1-1, 0-0
Look, Elon is bad. It almost lost to Davidson Week 1. The Phoenix then lost to Gardner-Webb Week 2. The Davis Cheek injury is devasting and they could have been good without him, but they just don’t have a lot of talent right now top to bottom. At least talent that is not producing. This may become a long season real quick for Elon, they are staring at 1-7, 0-6 in the face.