By Jack Fitzpatrick
You know, the world may be in constant turmoil, but there is one thing we all can count on each and every week.
CAA craziness. Every. Single. Saturday.
So let’s break this down. Villanova, Delaware, JMU, UNH and Richmond all did not play. Some of the top teams were out of action which brought out focus to some of the question mark teams and this weekend was a great barometer of how good they are.
Rhode Island picked up its second win (both in OT), the Tribe crushed Elon and Maine thoroughly dominated Stony Brook on Long Island.
These outcomes also brought into focus the full picture. So let’s break down my feelings in this exact moment after three weeks of CAA action.
- Delaware (2-0, 2-0)
The Fighting Blue Hens were out of action this week due to COVID, but they are riding the high of the first two contests to the No. 1 spot. Delaware has one of the most complete teams in the CAA with a top-scoring offense averaging 34 a game and the best scoring defense allowing just 1.5 points per game.
It is a very small sample size, and both games were at home. UNH was going to be Delaware’s first away game of the season and that was going to be a big test just to leave the comfy confines of Newark, DE.
As the season has rolled on the Maine beatdown is looking better and better, while the Stony Brook win is just about what you would expect.
Delaware is now the number one team until proven otherwise.
- Rhode Island (2-0, 2-0)
Is this a knee-jerk reaction? Sure.
Is this done for clickbait? I won’t answer that.
In all honesty, I really like what Rhode Island is doing right now. Tons of transfers are making immediate impacts, most notably transfer QB Kasim Hill. Head coach Jim Fleming is in his sixth season and has Rhode Island looking like a good program and the Rams are even ranked No. 18 in the latest STATS FCS poll.
Kasim Hill is the key in this run for Rhode Island. In both games, on the road I might add, he has been the one to break the game open with his legs and make the plays to keep the Rams in it with his arm. He averages 181.5 pass yds per game and accounts for 206 total offensive yards a game. He has thrown one TD this season and rushed for another two and to add to it he played the entire Albany game on a bad ankle. Hill hasn’t been putting up amazing numbers but he is consistent and makes the key plays when needed.
This Rhode Island team isn’t a fluke. Two OT wins. Two road wins. Two gutty performances. This group maybe this season’s worst-to-first team in the CAA.
- Villanova (1-1, 1-1)
Oh how I would love to drop the Villanova team in the rankings, but honestly, I just can’t (yet). Week 1 was a close win over a bad Stony Brook team. Week 2 was a close OT loss at home against a good Rhode Island team. How do you make sense of that?
QB Daniel Smith has been balling and leads the CAA in total offensive yards and according to all statistics he is the best QB in the CAA at this moment, yet his team has won one and lost one.
Scoring wasn’t really an issue against Rhode Island but the defense wouldn’t have been able to stop me from running and passing all over them! (For reference my athletic height was playing intramural basketball at JMU and making one three on 15 attempts and getting ejected from a game.)
I would have loved to see Villanova this past Saturday in action but they were on bye week. This week, their game against UNH was postponed so hopefully if everything goes right, the next time we will see them will be April 3, at Maine.
Villanova has under impressed this season but they also hung up 37 on Rhode Island and appear to have a very competent offense and in this league that is the most important thing.
- Maine (2-1, 2-1)
After the absolutely terrible showing in Week 1, Maine has come back and looked good. They beat Albany on the road, then dominated Stony Brook on Long Island.
I have a feeling Maine is going to be a very up and down team this season. They will have great showings like this past Saturday and they will also have not-so-great showings like in Week 1. Right now after they dropped 25 points on Stony Brook and they passed for 250 yards and WR Andre Miller absolutely torched Stony Brook for 133 yards I have them at four.
- Richmond (2-0, 2-0)
Richmond is coming off a weekend where it wasn’t able to play due to COVID problems within the JMU program. The last time we saw them they beat down Elon.
Richmond, according to head-to-heads and score vs. similar opponents they are the best team in the South as of this moment. They had a fantastic Week 1 win over William & Mary then left the Phoneix in ashes.
Do I think they have the most talented roster? No, not by a long shot. But I do think at this moment they are the best team in the South led by QB Joe Mancuso and RB Aaron Dykes.
- William & Mary (1-1, 1-1)
I really like this William & Mary team. Hollis Mathis leads the CAA in passing yards per game at 189.5, above the likes of Daniel Smith and Jeff Undercuffler and he has this Tribe team humming right along.
Sitting at 1-1, they had the Week 1 loss against Richmond then the domination over Elon in Week 3. (The Tribe’s Week 2 game was postponed due to COVID problems within the JMU Program.)
Hollis Mathis is tearing it up right now and has made a great jump from year one in the system to year two and so has head coach Mike London. Mathis is first in pass yards per game, fifth in passing efficiency and second in total offense. He is the engine that makes the team go. If the defense held firm for a drive or two against Richmond this team could be 2-0.
But they aren’t and they are 1-1 and sixth in the power rankings.
- JMU (3-0, 1-0)
Oh man, I can not wait to read my mentions this week. Last week I was called stupid for putting Richmond above JMU and now this week William & Mary AND Richmond are above them.
Look, I think JMU has the most talented roster, but this is a power ranking and not a projection or ranking roster talent. The last thing I saw was a struggling team barely squeak by Elon. That same Elon team has now gone out and been destroyed by Richmond and William & Mary and neither team really looked like it struggled to do it either.
You know what it means though that JMU is ranked below them? In my eyes, if they go out and destroy those two teams they will springboard up the rankings.
At the end of the day, the team that will trot out and take the field on Saturday is going to be vastly different than the one we saw in the third quarter against Elon.
There is a new starting QB. Liam Fornandel is out for the Spring season. And who knows who will be missing from the two-deep come Saturday.
JMU has underwhelmed this season and I will say… THAT IS OKAY!!! This is a weird spring season. Cole Johnson wasn’t what we thought which made the team one-dimensional making it easy for defenses to key in and load the box and stop the four-headed monster. Will Gage change that? Maybe. But right now they are in no way the best team in the South.
- Albany (1-2, 1-2)
Alright, who wants my Albany stock? I know, they say never buy high and sell low but here I am. I bought in last season when Albany was tearing up the CAA and Undercuffler had 41 passing TD to 10 INT with 3,543 yards averaging 250+ yards a game. Those numbers made me fall in love and I had high hopes for him and this Great Danes this season.
So far, they have underwhelmed. This offense can’t seem to get in any sort of groove and they look like me trying to find a rhythm, unable to. In the Week 1 win over UNH defense was the star and the offense did just enough to beat a below-average UNH team.
In Week 2 the offense hung up 34 points but the defense allowed 38. In Week 3 the offense scored 10 and the defense allowed just 10 points in regulation.
In 2019 Undercuffler had two elite senior receivers that were the master of yards after the catch. They were some of the best not in the CAA but in the nation in racking up the YAC. The amount of 2-yard out routes that became 30-yard TD passes was insane.
This season Undercuffler just doesn’t have the receivers to do the work for him and he isn’t able to win the game with his right arm. Add on top of that their star running back, Karl Mofor has underwhelmed in both of their losses.
The Undercuffler can’t win games by himself and I thought he could and this team may be in for a great fall but they are out of it now in the Spring. I was very wrong on the Great Danes.
- UNH (0-1, 0-1)
UNH hasn’t played since losing to an Albany team that has gotten progressively worse each week. The Wildcats L is looking worse and worse every week.
- Stony Brook (0-3, 0-3)
So, Stony Brook.
- A close L to Villanova
- A blowout L to Delaware
- An underwhelming L to Maine.
Two of the losses came at home, one on the road. There isn’t much to like about this team. A bottom third offense and defense in the CAA and the Seawolves have turned the ball over seven times in three games. This team just is not that good and playing in the North, this Spring season, even though it is an abbreviated schedule, may feel as long as 67 days of darkness come winter in Alaska.
- Elon (1-4, 0-4)
I feel like I don’t have to say much. The Phoenix aren’t good. They may not win a single game in the SOUTH. Good luck in the Fall when Cheek is hopefully back out there.