JMU drops to number four after the close win over Elon while North squads make statements with conference wins
By Jack Fitzpatrick
Conference play began this weekend and it brought some wild moments. From Villanova QB Daniel Smith getting called for a chop block to a missed game-tying field goal late by Stony Brook to the crazy back and forth between William & Mary and Richmond in the 4th quarter. CAA Football is back!
This weekend was like stepping outside on a cold day and taking in a deep breath. It was revitalizing but also stung a little. Essentially every favorite won this week but it was all about how they did it.
So, it’s time to dive into the Week 3 Power Rankings!
- Villanova (North) 1-0, 1-0 Up 1
Villanova took down Stony Brook 16-13 on Long Island. Stony Brook, no matter the level of talent the team has, defends its home field with grit and toughness and to go in and take down the Seawolves was big for the Wildcats.
Coming into the game Villanova hadn’t beaten Stony Brook since 2013 and had lost its last two against the Seawolves. But the fifth-ranked Wildcats controlled the game and despite the close scoreline dominated from start to finish.
Daniel Smith went 17-32 for 253 yards and a TD while the ‘Nova rushing attack went for 115 yards and a TD. Sophomore WR Rayjoun Pringle ate up the secondary all day accounting for 171 yards of receiving on nine catches.
Villanova had 404 yards of total offense compared to Stony Brook’s 243 and held the ball for 35:24.
The scoreline was close and there were some mistakes by the Villanova offense, but at their high, the Wildcats looked like the clear-cut best team in the CAA and at its low points still looked really solid, and that defense is scary good.
- Delaware (North) 1-0, 1-0 Up 3
Delaware dominated Maine 37-0. After 469 days since its last competitive game, Delaware opened its season opener with a kickoff return TD. From there they dominated the lowly Black Bears. There was no real stat on the box score that jumped out in terms of showing the domination but watching the Blue Hens play on Saturday it was evident that this team is for real.
Delaware was flying around the field making every big play and forcing Maine off the field on third down, allowing just 2 conversions on 14 attempts. Special Teams showed up in a huge way, the offense was methodical and continuously marched up and down the field and the defense was as stout as a Guinness.
The Blue Hens almost got my top spot, but then I remembered they were playing Maine.
- Albany (North) 1-0, 1-0 Up 1
Okay, call me foolish all you want but I am high on the Great Danes this season and that UNH game was more reason for me too. After UNH drove down the field and scored on its first drive of the game, the Albany defense stiffened and didn’t allow another UNH offensive TD until there was just 6:48 left to play and Albany had built a 24-13 lead. (UNH blocked a punt late in the second quarter for a TD that made the scoreline look closer than it was.)
Redshirt-sophomore QB Jeff Undercuffler was exposed a bit, his throws at times lacked velocity and got to receivers late and the Albany passing attack is predicated on quick precision timing routes that when altered fall apart quickly. With that being said he still went 23-36 for 192 yards and 3 TD and hit the throws when needed.
The key to this offense, and this team, is senior running back Karl Mofor who rushed it 28 times for 85 yards. While not the most eye-popping numbers and quite frankly an underwhelming YPC he was the workhorse and the engine that kept things rolling when it was necessary.
- JMU (South) 3-0, 2-0 Down 3
JMU below Albany?! Yes, as of right now I fully believe that all three teams above JMU would beat them head-to-head. JMU once again struggled mightily in the first half of a game, and this time against Elon they struggled for three full quarters and were on the brink of taking a fat L as it trailed by 11 going into the fourth quarter.
The team has come out flatter than a glass of Coca-Cola left out on a hot summer day two weeks in a row and that falls on the coaching staff. The offense lacks originality and fails to move the ball and get in a rhythm for long stretches of game action. The defense is the savior of the team but did struggle to slow down the third-string Elon QB in the first half.
Want to talk about a tale of two halves? The front seven could not generate any sort of pass rush and Elon freshman QB JR Martin had all day to throw and because of that, the secondary was exposed. Then in the second half, Mike Greene took the game over and the Elon offense unraveled very, very quickly.
Once Cole Johnson was benched and Gage Moloney stepped in the team looked reinvigorated and he did something that Johnson couldn’t do. He moved the football and scored touchdowns.
JMU is not the best team in the country, and they aren’t even the best in the CAA right now. Next week, assuming Gage will start, will be interesting to see. If they come out flat again I don’t know if they can make it past the Tribe.
- Stony Brook (North) 0-1, 0-1 Up 2
Stony Brook, while taking the L, looked like a good team. After Villanova scored a TD on two of its first four drives, Stony Brook buckled down and didn’t allow another point. Tyquell Fields tried to will the Seawolves back into the game and set them up late for a game-tying field goal in the final minutes. Stony Brook missed and that was its last real opportunity to do anything.
This team is a lot better than it was at the end of last season and if it can capture what it had at the beginning of the 2019 season it can be a real pain for a lot of teams up north and spoil potential playoff opportunities.
- UNH (North) 0-1, 0-1 Down 3
Yikes. This team was humming to start against Albany than just fell apart. It looked as if they were going to open up a huge lead over the Great Danes and make a statement win to open the season. A questionable fourth-down decision deep inside Albany’s territory proved to be a momentum swing that helped propel Albany in the second half. UNH’s blocked punt for a TD was big time but it couldn’t keep that momentum going. In the end, UNH’s defense was solid and the offense was lacking.
- Richmond (South) 1-0, 1-0 Up 2
Richmond won a really good game that not a lot of JMU fans were probably watching since it kicked off around the same time as the Dukes game.
Richmond and William & Mary were locked in a great game thanks to a Tribe comeback. After Richmond opened up a 13-0 lead the Tribe battled back to take a 14-13 lead with 11:46 to go. The Spiders answered back just a few minutes later and converted the two-point conversion to go up 21-14 late. From there Richmond drained the clock didn’t let the William & Mary offense have another chance.
It was an evenly matched game from start to finish but Richmond made the plays when it needed to like the Savon Smith 14-yard rush on 2nd & 9 to ice the game.
This may be the best Richmond team since the Kyle Lauletta era.
- William & Mary (South) 0-1, 0-1 No movement
Mike London has done a great job with this team. They were on the right trajectory last season and despite the loss, I think they will be a solid program on the rise this year too. Now, they aren’t better than most of the CAA but in a few years, they may just be.
They are a good passing team led by sophomore QB Hollis Mathis who threw for 204 yards on 18-28 and a TD he also added a TD on the ground. After a slow start to his 2019 freshman campaign, he gained steam over the Tribe’s last four games, and looks like he may continue that rise this season.
It will be pivotal for Mathis to continue to produce through the air since the Tribe’s rushing attack seems to be underwhelming. Overall, this team is solid but there is nothing special about them as of right now.
After JMU’s showing in Week 3 against Elon, the Dukes may have another tough game in Week 4 against William & Mary.
- Elon (South) 1-2, 0-1 Up 2
Elon jumped up from last to ninth, let’s give them a round of applause.
Elon once again jumped out to a halftime lead and once again allowed the heartbreaking comeback. They have a subpar QB that can’t hit his targets in a consistent manner and a defense that just can’t hold up over the course of a game.
Maybe this week will be the week the Phoneix learns how to play a game from start to finish.
- Maine (North) 0-1, 0-1 Down 4
Maine couldn’t score a point. They have played more games than Rhode Island but have scored the same amount of points… yikes.
Maine didn’t have a redeeming part of the game, poor special teams, poor offense and poor defense. Its only win may come against Rhode Island, but honestly, that isn’t going to be a gimme.
- Rhode Island (North) 0-0, 0-0 Down 1
The Rams still haven’t played so I guess they are last? They historically are terrible and they haven’t shown otherwise.