CAA Power Rankings — the second iteration
By Jack Fitzpatrick
It’s been awhile. The last time I sat down and power ranked the CAA it was still about a month out from the season opener. Now, here we are more than a month into the FCS college football schedule and things have gotten weird.
There has been a lot of shakeup and more importantly, injuries. Nolan Henderson, the Blue Hens signal caller, is out for a few weeks and potentially more, Joe Mancuso is out for what seems like a while for Richmond and we have yet to see Percy Agyei-Obese even take a hand off for the Dukes.
With all that being said, I think we have a good feeling on just who these teams are. JMU is the top, Elon is the bottom and there are some teams in between. So let’s dive into just where everyone stacks up in between.
- JMU (3-0, 1-0)
What else can be said that we haven’t said?
Look when it comes down to it, Cole Johnson is playing at an elite level, the running backs, while hit by injury, are still producing at an extremely high level and Antwane Wells Jr. and his receiving corps are torching FCS defense for just gaudy numbers.
Oh? They have one of the best defensive units in the FCS too?
Anchored by a defensive line that is just scary deep this defense has shut down opposing offenses for three games now. The Dukes allow just 13.7 points per game, best in the CAA, and they don’t have a weak spot statistically speaking. JMU allows just 32 yards per game on the ground and 192.7 through the air.
I won’t go into it much more, but with Percy returning soon, Latrele looking like a beast and Cole slinging it, this team is a true national title contender screw the CAA championship.
- Villanova (3-1, 1-0)
I was hesitant to put Villanova in this spot. Every year it seems they start with a weak non conference schedule, beat up on their first few CAA opponents then flame out late. Well I have drunk the juice once again and here they are.
Daniel Smith is just doing Daniel Smith things. Throwing for over 200 yards a game, 10 TDs to just 3 INTs and completing 62 percent of his passes. Pair that with Justin Covington’s play you have a lethal backfield up in Pennsylvania. Covington, a redshirt senior running back, is second in the CAA in rush yards per game with 80.5 and averages a mind boggling 6.4 yards per carry. This offense is multi faceted and that is a big reason I think they can keep this type of play rolling for a while.
Oh, they also have the second best defense behind only JMU too.
- Delaware (2-1, 1-0)
Despite losing their starting QB in Nolan Henderson for at least this week (in all likelihood a few more too) they still have a solid defense in the CAA and are capable of scrapping out a win or two in Henderson’s absence.
What makes this team run is above average defensive play, a good run game and in the case of Henderson strong QB play. With QB play going down a notch to unknown they may honestly suffer more than I expect, but up to this point in the season I think Delaware should still be considered a top 3 team in the CAA.
- Rhode Island (3-0, 1-0)
What if I told you Rhode Island was one of just two undefeated teams in the CAA on October 1?
While they may not have gone through a gauntlet of a schedule, they have handled their business against Bryant and Brown and came away with a road win against Albany. This weekend’s game vs. Stony Brook at home will be a great test for the Rams and for us to really gauge how good they are.
From a stats perspective they are a top tier team, ranking in the top three in scoring offense and top 4 in scoring defense. While their schedule hasn’t been great, they are performing like a top tier team and with QB Kasim Hill this Rhode Island may finally have their stuff together for a playoff berth and maybe even a win.
- Richmond (2-2, 0-1)
Richmond is similar to Rhode Island in terms of stats. They are a top 4 offense and a top 3 defense. They were led by super super senior QB Joe Mancuso but after he suffered an injury it looks like he won’t be playing for awhile. Their rush attack, which is ranked fifth in the CAA, will have to step up and help take some of the pressure off the backup QB Beau English.
Richmond had Villanova on the ropes but allowed 21 unanswered late and ended up losing. If they can put together a full four quarters I think they are solid and another potential playoff team.
- UNH (3-1, 2-0)
Let me just say this. I don’t think New Hampshire is that good. Yes, they are undefeated in CAA play and against FCS opponents but it is worth mentioning that not only did they lose to Pitt this last weekend, they lost by 70 (!!!) SEVENTY.
They are a bottom half offense and defense in terms of scoring and total yards and they are just below average in all statistical categories. This record makes you think they are good but at the end of the day they won’t be able to compete with the top of the CAA and will most likely pick up a few more wins this season over bottom feeder teams.
- William & Mary (3-1, 1-0)
All aboard the Hollis Mathis and Mike London hype train!!
Oh? It is just me? That’s fine it really hasn’t gotten going yet.
The Tribe are 3-1 with an alright offense and a slightly above average defense. The best this team can do this season is play spoiler. In all honestly though this is a run first team with a lackluster passing attack. Defensively they are slightly better but this team, much like UNH, has won against inferior opponents and can’t stack up with better teams.
- Towson (1-3, 0-1)
Guess not playing in the spring really impacted the Tigers.
Towson coming into the season hadn’t played a snap since 2019 and so far this season it has looked like that, after taking down Morgan State 31-0 to start the season they lost by 12 to UNH, 28 to NDSU and was throttled by FBS San Diego State. Next up they have Stony Brook which statistically they are better so they should win but still ahead they have Rhode Island, William and Mary and JMU. This season can get ugly quick for the Tigers.
- Stony Brook (1-3, 0-1)
Coming into the season I thought Tyquell Fields would be able to sling it a bit more, but instead he averages just below 200 yards per game and a 54% completion rate.
- Maine (1-3, 0-2)
Maine was throttled by JMU and had a 10 point L to Delaware to start the season. Not great. You blinked and they were not just 0-2, but 0-2 in conference with any hopes, while slim, at a CAA championship dashed. Maine may be able to move up the rankings here in the next few weeks with games against Elon and William & Mary but this team just isn’t great.
- Albany (0-3, 0-1)
Jeff Undercuffler isn’t what I thought and Karl Mofor has not gotten going at all. This Albany lacks both a defense and offense and last time I checked, in football, both are important.
- Elon (1-3, 0-1)
Maybe Albany should be here? Yeah, probably but Elon is kind of sharpie into this spot until they win two games in a row.