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CSN The CAA Today: Week Three Results – Finally, a few answers!

By Bruce Dowd, CSN The CAA Today Columnist

With all twelve teams in action, the CAA finished the weekend 7-5, 4-2 out of conference, but here is the staggering statistic; the average score was 37-30. Three teams scored over 50 points; three more scored over 40 with one of those, Rhode Island in a losing effort. There just wasn’t a lot of defense to be proud of.

...

So, everybody sing along with me now;

Where have all the Defenses gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the Defenses gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the Defenses gone?
Gone into hiding every one
When will they ever return?
When will they ever return?

I know, I know, you don’t have to say it; don’t give up my day job, right?

There were a few exceptions like Richmond holding Towson to 14 points, Maine holding Stony Brook to 13 and Villanova holding Lehigh to 14. The rest of the defensive performances were either totally forgettable or against an opponent that shouldn’t have scored a lot of points anyway.

Several of the coaches this week were asked about the all the offensive numbers and they had some very interesting things to say, We will start with coach Talley of Villanova, who I think along with New Hampshire, runs one of the most complex offensive schemes in the league. One that always seems to give the other coaches problems. Here is what he had to say; “I think the quality of the quarterbacks in our league is extremely high. And everyone going to the spread offense now really puts a lot of people on islands and the people that are on islands are defensive players who are normally running backwards against people who are a little more athletic running forwards. So when you have wide receivers and running backs coming out of the backfield that can run and you got guys backpedaling turning and running, and a quarterback, who in most cases, most of our quarterbacks in our league could play at any Division I school in the country . . . it makes for fireworks. Being a defensive coordinator today I think is really difficult with the spread, especially those teams that incorporate the option because now they put you on more of an island. Not only are you responsible for playing man coverage from within a zone, but you have to play a quarterback, a running back and a pitch man. I just think that the spread has really made it difficult for defenses to stop some of the more high powered offenses where they have quarterbacks that can run and throw. So I think right now I feel the pendulum has swung to the offense and there is usually more skill on the offensive side of the ball at our level then there is on the defensive side of the ball in the skill positions. I mean that is the way I have seen it anyway.”

Coach McDonnell of New Hampshire had this to say; “I think Andy [Talley] talked about it the best. When you have skilled kids that are playing at the quarterback position like we do in this league, who can get the ball to people in open spaces, there is going to be some trouble. We spread the field. A lot of teams spread the field now in this league. You can find some seams. If you pressure people [defensively] they can beat the one-on-one pressure. If you stay back in zone coverage the quarterbacks are good enough to sit back and pick it apart.”

When the coach of the best defense in the league, coach London of Richmond, was asked about these offenses and how to stop them, this is what he had to say; “With these [new] offenses out here and spread offenses [they] are offenses that can get the ball to skilled players in open positions . . . try to create one-on-one matchups, open field tackle situations. So it is scary and you have to do your due diligence in trying to take away what they do best and live with some of the other things. They are going to throw some balls and complete some balls, you just have to make sure that maybe they don’t get behind you and keep the balls in front of you and not try to stop everything. Run to the ball, rally to the ball and see what happens from there.”

In strong contrast to last week, at least this week’s games have started to add some clarity to the strength of the teams in the CAA led by James Madison’s thrashing of UMass in Harrisonburg. This has clearly put JMU back on the “team to beat” map and made most of us forget that performance against Duke. Villanova proved what I have been saying about them all along with a strong performance against a good Lehigh team in what has become a nice rivalry.

CAA RANKINGS UPDATE

Finally, as mentioned above, we have some clarity and with it, a shakeup in the rankings. First let me explain that it is time to return to the “tier” set-up in my rankings. Not because it is time to start talking playoffs, it is still way too early for that, but to be honest, mostly because I can’t figure out the middle and bottom tiers and exact ranking and most people don’t care about that kind of detail anyway.

So, here is the tier structure. “Top Tier” means the teams that are either headed to the playoffs or at least have a legitimate shot at it. They are more of the current elite teams. The “Middle Tier” is reserved for those teams that while solid and capable of beating any other CAA team on any given Saturday, still will probably not make the playoffs. Yet they are good enough to not warrant being in the bottom tier. The “Bottom Tier” represents teams with absolutely no shot at the playoffs and probably no shot at a winning record either and would struggle on any given Saturday to beat a top tier team. So that’s my criteria for the tiers.

This year I will change the format slightly and continue to rank the teams in the top tier, with the National Rankings also noted. As you will notice, the CAA still has half of the top ten teams in the country and also half the top six. Sadly, and even unfairly, this will not continue when they start to beat up on each other. So, here are this week’s rankings;

Top Tier:
1 – (tie) Richmond (1) National No. 2
1 – (tie) James Madison (4) National No. 5
3 – Villanova (3) National No. 19
4 – Massachusetts (2) National No. 9
5 – (tie) Delaware (5) National No. 6
5 – (tie) New Hampshire (6) National No. 10

Middle Tier: William & Mary, Maine, Northeastern

Bottom Tier: Towson, Hofstra, Rhode Island

Before you read any further, I might have to apologize in advance for the amount of time and space devoted the JMU UMass game and next week’s JMU App State game, but these are two of the top six or eight premier games to be played all year. Let’s face it, last week is was No. 7 against No. 3 and now this week it is No. 1 against No. 5. It can’t get much better than that.

LAST WEEK’S GAMES

Not to brag, but . . . I ran the table again. That’s two weeks in a row. I was worried about last week as there were some tough games to figure out. This next week will definitely test my mettle as you will see later. As already mentioned above, the obvious game of the week here was James Madison at home against Massachusetts, a game that definitely lived up to its billing although UMass fans may take exception to that statement.

No. 5 JMU 52, No. 9 Massachusetts 38: Last week I said to hide the women and children before going to this game and I hope you did that. This was a very hard hitting football game and very entertaining as well. While I wasn’t in attendance, I did get to watch it and what a performance by the Dukes, led by their star quarterback, Rodney Landers who really put on a show.

Last week in my preview of the game, I mentioned how I liked the match-up here with JMU’s rushing attack against UMass’s defense and how I thought JMU’s return game would help. Both of these predictions proved correct. I also mentioned two concerns about JMU, one was their tendency to turn the ball over and the second one was to make sure they weren’t looking past UMass to this week’s game against Appalachian State. I got several emails on that last one saying that it wasn’t possible to look past the No. 3 ranked team in the country. Well, here is an interesting quote this week from coach Matthews when asked about how big the game is this week coming up against App State; “Well it’s been difficult to keep all of our players eyes fixed on playing UMass, because that is all everyone wanted to talk about is Appalachian really for the past six or seven months. It’s been difficult I’ll be honest with you.”

JMU seemed to have this game well under control at halftime with a 21 point lead, 31-10. However, things changed in the second half as UMass made a game of it and actually got to within seven points with six minutes left to play. However, the Minutemen just couldn’t get the stops they needed on defense, which was a problem all day for them. Here is what coach Matthews had to say; “We pleaded with our kids at half. We knew [coach Brown] and his guys would come out smoking in the second half. Which they did. Because they’ve been very good and are still good, they weren’t going to sit down and let that scoreboard stay the way it was. We came out at the half and everybody in the stadium left. Everybody in Harrisonburg thought the game was over. It was a packed house in the first half and really loud and couldn’t hear and they were jumping offsides because of the noise. And we came out at the half and it was like a spring scrimmage. Everybody had gone home. It was kind of interesting. But I thought both offenses had great games and I thought that both defenses didn’t play very well.” So, sing along again with me; “Where have all the Defenses gone . . . Gone into hiding everyone . . .” and so on and so on.

With no disrespect to Liam Coen or Victor Cruz (see “Key Performance of the Week” below) or any of the other players that day, the real difference in this game was Rodney Landers who was clearly the best athlete on the field. While he is a big powerful kid, 6-1 and 220lbs, the thing that really surprised me watching this game last week was his speed. I just don’t remember him being that fast last year, but he just blew by UMass defenders all game. They had no answer for the combination of his speed and power as he set a JMU quarterback rushing record of 206 yards and two touchdowns. He added a 4-6 passing day for 85 yards and another touchdown. Here is a quote from coach Brown of UMass; “I thought the difference in the game was Rodney Landers . . . played a perfect game. He made all the right reads.”

We all got a chance to interview Rodney Landers in this week’s media conference call and he had some very interesting things to say, especially this one which I strongly agree with; “This was a big time win for us and set the tone for the rest of the year.” That game it did for me. They are now out of my dog house. This last game against UMass was a very impressive performance. Now they look like the team I had picked to win everything before the year started. As you saw in the Rankings section above, I now have them tied with Richmond. It is mostly because I think the match-up against Richmond is a tough one for JMU considering the strength of Richmond’s rush defense, and also considering that game will be played at Richmond this year. But, I digress, so back to the now. This was a statement game and I heard it loud and clear and they have a chance to put an exclamation point on it against App State this week.


“Oh Boy! Oh Boy! I can’t believe it. A Pass Play!”


“I am so excited that I am actually passing the ball I can’t even keep my feet on the ground!”

Sorry about those captions guys, but it’s all in fun. I just couldn’t resist and you have to admit, the pictures fit the captions. So, in my ongoing battle with JMU, some of their fans, and even coach Matthews, I still contend that he doesn’t throw deep often enough despite Mickey’s claims to the contrary. However, there is probably a good reason he is the head coach and I am a reporter as he certainly didn’t need a long passing game to handle UMass last week. My concern is that at some point in the season or worse yet in the playoffs, they will need to go deep at times and when they need it, it might not be there. It was there a few times last week against UMass but it was certainly missing against Duke. Okay, I promise, this is the last week I mention the Duke game this year. The point is, if Landers and the JMU offense keep performing like they did against UMass, they may never need a passing game. That was simply awesome!

No. 10 New Hampshire 51, Rhode Island 43: I was able to watch this game this week and while I am sure it was nerve racking to the coaches, especially the defensive coordinators, it was certainly entertaining to watch. This game was the poster child for what I talked about in my Summary above. There were 93 points scored and over 1000 yards in total offense as both quarterbacks had big days. R.J. Toman was a cool 29 for 40 for 309 yards and a gaudy five touchdowns. Cassidy was 34 for 61 for 436 yards and three touchdowns. As a team, Rhode Island threw 70 passes. In case you have been on vacation since last year and just returned, yes you read that right. That was no typo. It was Rhode Island that attempted 70 passes in one game, not in a season.

For Cassidy, a quarterback that obviously has a great arm, the comparison between last year and this year must be like having had to serve a jail sentence for something you didn’t do only to be found innocent and set free, because he is now performing like a mad man with something to prove. It is a shame that he won’t be around to see the final transformation of the Rams that coach Rizzi is putting in place.

Coach McDonnell had this to say about one of the keys I the game; “. . . I thought our return game, our kickoff and punt return game gave us some field position that helped us an awful lot. It kept us ahead in service almost like a tennis match. We were able to stay ahead of them.” He also praised the play of Chad Kackert who had 137 yards in kickoff returns to go along with his 164 yards of rushing.

There were several times in this game when you thought New Hampshire had the Rams put away, only to see them fight back. For example, UNH had leads of 17-0, 31-10, and 48-30 only to have Rhode Island fight back to 17-10, 34-24, and 51-43. The Rams had a chance at the end down only eight points with 56 seconds left as their onside kick attempt failed.

While this was a great win for New Hampshire, I couldn’t help coming away from watching this game very impressed and surprised by the inspired play of Rhode Island. The Rams are not going to the playoffs this year or probably not even finishing with a winning record, but if the Rams can shore up a few things on defense and maybe find even a little bit of a running game they are going to scare a few people this year. This team has grit and they just refuse to quit. I like what I see so far from coach Rizzi and his team. Although they lost to UNH, my hat is off to them for an outstanding effort.

No. 19 Villanova 33, Lehigh 14: As I thought, Nova was able to put Lehigh away without too much difficulty. The real turning point in the game happened in the second quarter when it looked like Lehigh jumped out to a 7-3 lead on a touchdown pass from Clark to Fitzgerald, but he play was called back because of a holding penalty. On the very next play, Villanova’s star defensive player, Osayi Osunde was able to pick off a tipped screen pass and return it for a touchdown making the score 10-0 Villanova. That was a huge 14 point swing that Lehigh could never recover from. Nova’s placekicker, Joe Marcoux also had a big day as he went 4-4 on field goals which included two 44 yarders. The Villanova defense had another great day as they held Lehigh to just 38 yards rushing while also picking off four passes. Heading into the fourth quarter, Nova was leading 30-7 and had this game under control.

Lehigh’s Head Coach Andy Coen paid some respect to Villanova in his post game press conference; “We talked a lot about overcoming adversity and dealing with challenges, and I think our defense epitomized that today . . . The defense was out there for 82 snaps, on a hot day, and I think they competed tremendously and kept us in this football game . . .I think our kids competed well today, and that’s a great start. We played a great football team and certainly made our share of mistakes, but now we’ll go forward from here.”

I did have one concern though after this game and after listening to coach Talley this week. The coach has always been very high on his quarterback Antwon Young but here is an interesting quote from Andy in this week’s press conference that indicates a potential problem; “Antwon Young, our quarterback, did not play as well as we would like him to play or he would like to play. He is still trying to get there and I think that is a concern for us at this point. He is really struggling to handle the reads and do what has to be done. We have encouraged him to play within the system. We have asked him to stick with the reads, stay with the program and not freelance, he has done that. . . I think that as he gets more time we will be more prolific. Everything is really predicated on him. When he missed reads and then runs out of the pocket and has to create things on the run, that’s not the offense.” We will have to keep an eye on that situation as the season continues to unfold.

No. 2 Richmond 45, Towson 14: As suspected, this game was no problem for a very talented Richmond team. On offense, Richmond again showed some real good balance as they had 148 yards passing and 184 yards rushing. Ward was 11 for 16 on the day with two touchdowns and no interceptions. Vaughn had another good day rushing with 103 yards on 20 carries.

However, in a week loaded with offensive fireworks, you could depend on Richmond to produce the best defensive game of the day as they held Towson and their vaunted passing attack to just 14 points, and only 55 yards rushing, 33 of which came from the scrambling of Sean Schaefer. Richmond defensive secondary also produced four interceptions.

I am becoming more and more impressed with Richmond’s defense with every passing week. Running against this team is like trying to drive a Volkswagen through a brick wall. There is just no give. And I can’t say enough about those two guys in the secondary, Rodgers and Hatcher. If you haven’t seen them play yet then do yourself a favor and watch them. They can really play. The only weaknesses I see if perhaps the ability to finish things in the red zone and there kicking game. If they can fix these areas it is going to be real interesting to see who can beat them, if anybody can. That’s JMU match-up in several weeks is going to be a great one to watch, the unstoppable force (JMU and Landers) and the immovable object (Richmond’s defense).

No. 6 Delaware 48, West Chester 20: For the most part, as expected Delaware dominated this game against Division II West Chester, with the exceptions of a few defensive breakdowns that Keeler was definitely unhappy about. This was Delaware’s home opener in front of another sellout crowd.

I am not going to spend a lot of time on this game. As I mentioned last week, West Chester had no chance of beating Delaware in this game. But here are a few numbers for you statistic hungry fans; Schoenhoft left the game early in the fourth quarter with the score 41-7 Delaware. The Hens had the ball for 15 more minutes than West Chester. And here is a number that will show have much more dominate Delaware is. The Hens had 308 yards rushing to West Chester’s 16. That should pretty much tell you all you need to know. One bright spot for Delaware was the play of two of their running backs. Smith had 101 yards on the day and ripped off a 62 yard run for a touchdown. Butler, who I consider to be the best break-away threat in the Delaware backfield, had a 53 yard touchdown gallop.

I still have some concerns about No. 6 Delaware this year. While quarterback Schoenhoft showed some progress he did still throw another interception and this one was in the end zone. So, he still has a ways to go and time is up as the Hens travel to play a good Southern Conference team Furman this week. Another concern might be in the couple of breakdowns in the secondary. Maybe they lost some focus against West Chester, but you have to wonder if the loss for the season of starting safety Anthony Bratton may have a big impact on the play of the secondary. I also sense that from listening to Coach Keeler this week, there still might be some concerns about the chemistry or make-up of this team. I may be reading between the lines there a little bit, but this next game against Furman will answer a lot of those questions.

William & Mary 52, VMI 17: Again, similar to the Delaware West Chester match-up, this game was not expected to be much of a contest and that is exactly what it was. The score was 24-3 at half and then the Tribe scored twice early in the third quarter to stretch the score to 38-3 and really ice the game as if it was ever in doubt. William & Mary had 570 total yards to VMI’s 287 which should tell you all you need to know about this game.

During the conference call this week coach Laycock mentioned that he was pleased with the adjustments his coaches made to answer some adjustments that VMI made on their option game, so I decided to ask him to explain what those where. Here is what he had to say; “It is more of a formation type of thing [offensive adjustments by VMI] . . . once they get a feel for how you are going to play coverage wise or perimeter game against an option team, they will force you into a particular coverage and then went ahead and attacked us [differently]. They know your adjustment. They knew what our adjustment was . . . in defensing anybody you do not like to have them lock you into a certain coverage per se and that’s what they were doing and we had to make that adjustment during the game and our coaches did a good job [changing it up].”

I am anxious to watch how this William & Mary team does as the season progresses. I have a feeling they may be better than many people think and are kind of sliding in under the radar so to speak.

Maine 28, Stony Brook 13: Maine wins the “Battle of the Butter”. Before you ask, I wasn’t so sure myself what the heck that meant. But it had something to do with the Mike and Mike Show on ESPN. They apparently named this game and had some fun with it. Here is the audio link to the ESPN broadcast when they had Jack Cosgrove talking about it and the game. ButterBattle. It is entertaining so you may want to go ahead and listen to it. Then scroll down in the “Sounds Byte” section to listen to it. Hopefully it will still be there.

So, back to reality and the game. Last week I said this would be a close one, but Maine actually did a good job of handling these guys. Stony jumped out to a 7-0 lead early, but then Maine took over. Maine was leading 28-10 at half and just cruised from there. Several thing stand out in this game. Maine’s defense played really well, holding a highly touted Stony rushing attack to just 72 yards all day. That, plus the Big Maine lead forced Stony to go to the air. Then Maine’s defense was able to just pin back their ears and lick their chops as they really wrecked havoc. They had seven sacks and two interceptions. Stony had four turnovers on the day to none for Maine. Maine also looked very balanced again on offense with 157 yards rushing and 159 yards passing.

Maine is starting to make some noise like they may be a team to contend with. They are solid and balanced on offense, not making many mistakes, and their defense, behind start defensive end Belcher is starting to remind us of the days “black hole defense”. UMass and UNH better keep an eye on these guys. They will be tested this week though as they travel to Richmond. So to answer this week’s burning lyrical question of “Where have all the Defenses gone?” It looks like they will be in Richmond on Saturday.

No 16 Georgia Southern 34, Northeastern 27 (Overtime): This was a heartbreaking loss for Northeastern as they let a great opportunity for an upset win during this tough stretch of their schedule. They may have even hit the ranking with a win here, but it didn’t happen and now Georgia Southern is enjoying the rankings boost.

Last week, coach Hager had some real concerns about the Eagles quarterback Antonio Henton and his fears were well founded as he was the star of the game. He was 16-27 passing for 298 yards which is the fifth highest total in Georgia Southern history. He also had 43 yards rushing and oh by the way, accounted for all five touchdowns for Georgia Southern, two through the air and three on the ground. He tied the game with a 65 yard touchdown pass with about a minute remaining to tie the game. And on the second play in overtime he ran for 25 yards for what proved to be the winning score. He also earned is first Southern Conference Offensive Player of the Week award for his performance against Northeastern. As an interesting sidebar, this was coach Hatcher’s first ever overtime win in his career. He had lost five in a row prior to this.

Too bad this game wasn’t on TV as it had a wild finish. Here are some of the details; with about three minutes to go Northeastern had the ball on the Georgia Southern 26 yard line and had a six point lead. On the next play, Broomfield ran for six yards and an apparent first down that probably would have sealed the game for the Huskies. However, he fumbled and Georgia Southern had one last shot. Henton then hit back-to-back pass completions, one for 20 yards and then the game tying pass for 65 yards. Now all the Eagles had to do was kick the extra point and take the lead. Well you probably guessed what happened next, the extra point was blocked giving Northeastern some hope as time was winding down.

As if that wasn’t exciting enough, the drama continues. Northeastern went three and out and had to punt giving Georgia Southern one last chance and incredibly, with under a minute to play and no timeouts remaining, they got themselves into field goal range. However, Jesse Hartley missed a 45 yard attempt and that sent it into overtime. The overtime was almost anti-climatic after that wild finish in regulation, but Northeastern won the toss and elected to go last. After an incomplete pass, on second down, Henton bolted for his 25 yard run and the eventual winning touchdown. When Northeastern had their chance in overtime, on a fourth and one from the 16 yard line, they tried a halfback option pass by Alex Broomfield that went incomplete.

This last picture really illustrates the frustration of the Northeastern defenders chasing all that speed of Georgia Southern as Tim Camp races for one of this two touchdown receptions on the day. Northeastern had five more first downs, 30 more total yards and 16 minutes more in time of possession, but the key statistics is seven less points. So there you have. A real heartbreaking loss for what seems to be a pretty good Northeastern team. I could just hear the pain in coach Hager’s voice during the media conference call this week as they seeming had this game in the bag with just a few minutes to play before all hell broke loose.

Albany 22, Hofstra 16 (Overtime): Hofstra hung tough here, but became the second CAA team this week to lose an out of conference heartbreaker in overtime. Coach Cohen did a good job summing up his team’s frustration from this loss in his opening statement this week, so let me allow you to here it from the coach instead of from me; “Obviously it was a tough game. We kicked the back of a helmet [field goal try] on like an 18 or 20 yard field goal attempt with about 10 seconds left in regulation to win the game . . . Albany did a great job. They kept us on our heels defensively with their efficiency in their run game and they had some crucial stops in the red zone. We were in the red zone six times and only got two touchdowns [the rest were stops]. That’s a credit to their defense and we need to do a better job being more productive in that area. We had a bad snap on an extra point, that’s one point. We had a safety against us, that’s two points and three field goals attempts were either blocked or we kicked our own guys. So, we left some opportunities off the scoreboard that we need to get, to beat a good team like Albany.”

Coach Cohen felt that quarterback Cory Christopher did a decent job this week as he is now the quarterback they have to rely on for the rest of the year. He was 27-38 for 272 yards and a touchdown. Despite three sacks, he also had 44 net yards rushing. I know last week that coach Cohen said he didn’t want to put Cory in harms way by running him, but I have a feeling that might change as the season progresses.

Hofstra, just like Northeastern, had the advantage statistically with about 100 more total yards, 13 more minutes in time of possession and nine more first downs, yet also like Northeastern, in the most important category, ended up with less points. So much for statistics.

When asked a good question about how you approach the field goal kicker and the problems that Hofstra had in that area and here was his reply; “We have got to hasten the pace of the operation . . . from snapper to holder to kicker and the kicker has to hasten his footwork. Any time you are dealing with a true freshman kicker that’s just out of high school I think you are going to see a lack of consistency unfortunately in most cases. We got to work through this and he is one of four true freshmen we have starting right now and we have got to get better.” Hofstra will probably continue to struggle this year as Cohen is still sifting through the coach Joe Gardi era and just starting to get his players into the mix. So they are young and on top of that they have been hit again with injuries. In addition to losing the senior starting quarterback, Brian Savage for the season, right now, none of the first three running backs from their preseason are healthy. That is some tough obstacles to overcome.

On the bright side for Hofstra, as you can see from the above picture, they had a ceremony to retire the jersey of their great wide receiver, Marques Colston who is now playing for the Saints. There is an interesting story behind how quickly this ceremony had to be pulled off. When we are watching the games, we don’t always know all the things that go on behind the scenes. It seems like a game ball might have gone to Hofstra A.D. Jack Hayes, who pulled off quite a miracle to even have this ceremony. He mobilized everyone when Marques informed him last minute that he was coming to the Albany game. A framed jersey for Marques, a wooden “jersey” for the Stadium wall, program supplements, script and releases were all done within 24 hours to provide a very nice ceremony for Marques. It was done this quickly because his NFL schedule with the Saints left everyone at Hofstra thinking that they might have to honor him after the NFL season. But when he got hurt at Tampa Bay recently and required surgery, he suddenly became available to Hofstra for only last Saturday, as the Saints requested that he travel with the team while hurt,even though he will be out of action.

The CAA-Today “KEY PERFORMANCE OF THE WEEK”

I know, I know, you are expecting to see Rodney Landers as this week’s selection, but you should know by now that I never give you the expected. I am certainly going to hear from a ton of JMU fans by not selecting him, but he has won every award out there this week. I also spent a lot of time last year on the quarterback and I am getting tired of them always getting the attention, deserved or not.

So, staying true to what is becoming a weekly habit of my “out of the box” selection for this award, this week’s award is very unusual as it is the first award given to someone in a losing effort. Now that takes some doing to have a performance that strong. This week’s award winner is WR Victor Cruz of Massachusetts. When you get a chance to digest his numbers, you might not think this was such a bad pick.

All Cruz did last week was almost single handedly keep UMass in the game. He broke a JMU stadium record and shattered the UMass single game record with a total of 13 receptions for 262 yards receiving and two touchdowns. There have been a lot of good receivers go through Massachusetts in their history, for him to break their single game record is quite a feat. As staggering as those numbers were, just wait until you read these next numbers. In the second half alone, he had 11 catches for 248 yards and two touchdowns. Make sure you JMU fans digest those numbers before you email me that this was a bad selection.

I remember a similar dominating performance from a wide receiver several years ago, probably before a lot of my readers were even following football. I think it was in 1996 or thereabouts, Delaware had a great defense and was playing Marshall in the playoffs. I was sure this was Delaware’s year to upend Marshall, but a receiver from Marshall had 288 yards receiving and three touchdowns to put Delaware away. Oh by the way, in case you haven’t guessed it, that receiver’s name was Randy Moss. That’s just a little history lesson and something for you to ponder.

While Liam Coen had a great game last week and got a lot of deserved credit for his performance, it was Cruz who accounted for half the team’s completions and 77% of their passing yards. I know this is somewhat of a hollow award for Victor because his team lost, but still, in my eyes, he deserves it. Congratulations Victor!

THIS WEEK’S GAMES

No. 1 Appalachian State at No. 5 James Madison
7 p.m. (The Dukes exact some revenge): This is not only my obvious game of the week, but perhaps even the game of the year, especially considering last year’s outcome, which coach Matthews called the toughest loss in his entire coaching career.

So, why pick JMU to beat the three-time defending national champions and this year’s No. 1 ranked team? As I said last week, it’s all about matchups. JMU’s run-dominated option game is an ideal weapon against App State as proved in last year’s first round of the playoffs. JMU lost last year to Delaware and Richmond and yet App State handled those two teams fairly easily in the playoffs, but came within a late fumble of losing to JMU. How is that possible you might ask? Thanks for asking. In last year’s game, JMU had the ball almost twice as much as Appalachian State did. That is the best way to keep, what I consider to be the most dangerous offensive weapon in the entire FCS, Amanti Edwards, in check. Just make him sit on the sidelines. Another part of the matchup that I like is that I believe Appalachian State’s main advantage defensively is its speed. I saw that firsthand in last year’s title game against Delaware. The speed on the defensive line really puts pressure on the pass game and its secondary can really cover. Well, guess what? That won’t matter much against JMU. Don’t look now, but I am starting to warm up to that option run game of the Dukes. Did those words just come out of my keyboard? Please don’t tell coach Matthews on me. This option-run oriented offense is not your father’s, or in some your cases, your grandfather’s “three yards and a cloud of dust.” It is diverse and it forces the defense to cover the entire field as compared in the old days of just running over people. I am starting to appreciate it more and gain more respect for it.

App State had the luxury of having a bye last week, while JMU had to contend with a big CAA game against UMass. It will be interesting to see how this affects both teams. I think this might be an advantage to JMU as it can continue to feed off that emotion from last week and continue its run. On the other hand, App State hasn’t had any competition for two weeks now and no real opposition since its opener against LSU, so it could be a little rusty early. However, coach Moore seemed to be pleased with the off week as he had this to say: “I think we had a good week in the open week. We had a lot of rain … we’re fortunate we have this indoor facility now and we got a lot of good work done up in there. And we worked pretty long to tell you the truth. Half that week wasn’t preparation for James Madison … just trying to correct things and work on a lot of fundamentals and hopefully get a little better as a team. Then the last couple of days and this week we were focusing on James Madison.”

I also asked Moore what he thought about Landers and how he might plan to stop him and he responded: “He is a real gutsy player. He is a hard-nosed kid. He’s got a lot of confidence in himself, and his players, I am sure, have a lot of confidence in him. He is a strong kid. He is a big kid … you just have to drag a guy like that down. He’ll break a lot of tackles. He is just a very competitive player. I just got a HUGE amount of respect for him.”

Last week in my analysis of the UMass game, I mentioned one of concerns about JMU was its tendency to turn the ball over and the second one was to make sure it wasn’t looking past UMass to this week’s game against Appalachian State. I received several e-mails on that last one saying that it wasn’t possible to look past the No. 3 ranked team in the country. Well, here is an interesting quote this week from Matthews when asked about how big this game is coming up against App State: “Well it’s been difficult to keep all of our players’ eyes fixed on playing UMass, because that is all everyone wanted to talk about is Appalachian, really for the past six or seven months. It’s been difficult I’ll be honest with you … we could fill a 50,000-seat stadium if we had a big enough stadium … I have heard from people I haven’t heard from in two or three years wanting tickets to the game. It’s going to be a great game. We always play Appalachian very hard.”

JMU and its fans are going to be more than ready for this game. One concern I have this week is that they might be too ready, too emotional and make mistakes. It still needs to stay focused and execute the game plan as it did last week, and keep away from turnovers. Last week I was worried about JMU looking past UMass and worried about turnovers. This week, while still worried about turnovers, I am concerned about how it handles the emotional part. Sometimes that can take the players out of their normal routine, as they try to do too much. Coaches talk all the time about “trusting each other,” especially on defense. If they are overexcited, they might try to do too much individually and get out of position. If that happens then Amanti, the “human rocket” as Mathews calls him, it will definitely exploit it. I had a chance to ask Rodney Landers on Monday about this concern and perhaps the added pressure that comes with a game that is this big. His answer kind of reassured me and also shows why he is as good a leader as he is an athlete. Here was his response: “I’m not sure if it adds any extra pressure. We know the task at hand. We know that this is a big game, and we know that every week from here on out is going to be even bigger than the last. We just need to take care of business. We need to focus on what we do well and what we need to improve on this week and we’ll do OK.” As if that wasn’t good enough, he finished answering my question with this comment, which showed so much maturity and sounds more like it is coming from a coach rather than a player: “I am not really worried about what App State is going to do. I’m more concerned about what we are going to do, and how we are going to improve as a team. To answer your question, I don’t think there is any added pressure.”

I envy the JMU fans. I mean how about this for back-to-back games at home. First, UMass the 1998 national champions, the 2006 runner-up to App State and last year’s CAA champions. Then to follow that with the No. 1 team in the nation and the current defending three-time national champions in a grudge match game. How many times does a team get to beat the No. 3 team in the country and then the No. 1 team in consecutive weeks? I mean it just doesn’t get any better than this, or does it? As if that wasn’t enough, this game also features what I consider to be the two best athletes in the FCS going head to head in Landers against Edwards. Kind of like a good heavyweight fight, like Ali against Frazier. Speed against power. Landers is considered a little more of a power runner while Edwards is more a speed demon. Here is what App State coach Jerry Moore had to say about comparing the two: “ … I’d say that is probably correct [Rodney is more powerful and Edwards faster]. I am not sure what Rodney runs in the 40; I am not even sure what Amanti runs. But the make-up of both is completely different. Rodney is more of a crude power runningback kind of guy where Amanti is more like a receiver running with the ball every once in awhile. He’s quick and can kind of make you miss. Where Rodney is probably just going to run over you.” While all that is true, kind of like with Muhammad Ali, Amanti has power too when he needs it. I have seen Amanti run over people. He is surprisingly strong for a guy his size. And Landers, well, I already mentioned how impressed I was with his speed last week, so he is a lot more than just a power runningback.” So, my prediction is that Rodney wins round two of the Landers-Amanti FCS heavyweight battle. Don’t be surprised if we have a round three later this year in the playoffs, and maybe, if the selection committee does its job right, round three will be in Chattanooga. Now wouldn’t that be something.

Look for Me: I will be “ringside” for this game so please look for me. I like to walk the tailgate sections and mix it up with the fans. I am looking forward to seeing some of the App State fans I met last year at the championship game, and I’m looking forward to meeting all the avid JMU fans that read this column weekly. Please keep an eye out for me. My mug shot is on this site. Also, I have a slight limp (due to an old sports knee injury) and, my shape is, well how shall I say this delicately, one that looks like a retired offensive lineman (due to old bad eating habits). Food and beverage donations are always welcomed; I mean a guy has to keep up his figure doesn’t he? I will have a camera strapped around my neck, and I plan on doing a “Clint Eastwood” themed section on all you tailgaters next week, titled “FCS Tailgating, The Good, The Bad and without question, The Ugly!” Let’s see how each of you fit into those categories.

The Upset Meter Rating here is; [ - - - - - - - - - 10 ] (my highest ever upset rating)
TV Coverage: CN8

No. 6 Delaware at No. 24 Furman 2 p.m. (Furman wins a squeaker): To be honest, I almost flipped a coin on this one because I changed my mind three times. I know Delaware had an impressive performance against Maryland, but I don’t have the confidence yet in its quarterback, Rob Schoenhoft, to beat a team as good as Furman on the road. Due to the tough competition in the CAA South this year, I still have Delaware missing the playoffs, and I don’t have it as high as No. 6 nationally. I mean it played Maryland to open the season, and then had a bye week and then a second bye week of sorts as it beat up on West Chester. So it’s difficult to evaluate the Hens, and they might be much better at the end of the season once Schoenhoft gets some experience under his belt, but I think this is just too soon for him.

On the other hand, Furman is a little easier to read. That was a convincing victory against Colgate on the road as it rolled up 515 yards of total offense. And it played Virginia Tech tough in week one. It trailed just 3-0 at halftime. I had a chance to talk to Furman coach Bobby Lamb this week, and I was wondering whether it was difficult to prepare for a quarterback like Schoenhoft when Delaware is bringing him along so slowly and perhaps it hasn’t shown everything yet. Here was his reply: “Well certainly, but we have got several tapes from last year. We ended up exchanging four tapes from last year. So we have last year’s routes and the things that they do. The thing that has got to make him comfortable from the quarterback position is that they have a great group of wide receivers and a big tight end to throw to. I’m sure they’ll expand it the farther the season goes along for him, but with Joe Flacco last year, they extended it all the way to the end because he was such a great player. I can see them doing a lot of the same things at the end of the year with this kid.”

I followed that question to Lamb with one concerning how Delaware matches up against other teams in the Southern Conference, which to me seems as if there might be a little more speed and much less size. I also mentioned the size of Delaware, and he responded with this: “Well I think you said it best that they have more size than anybody in our league. And I think that is all the way across the board. They are a huge football team just from the standpoint of the size on the offensive line and the defensive line and, of course, their skill people are very fast. They got the total package but the biggest difference I see is the size advantage they have on you. Obviously, Appalachian played them last year in the playoffs, and Appalachian had the speed advantage on them, of course, Appalachian has the speed advantage on everybody so it is hard to compare that. But they are big, they are strong, and they are physical. They do what they do. They are not fancy, but they do what they do on offense, and they play a very sound game on defense. So they have had a lot of success doing that so I don’t think they will do anything different.”

Here’s an interesting quote from Delaware coach KC Keeler this week: “We wanted to come out of that West Chester game feeling great about everything, but we didn’t. We were really disappointed that we gave up some big plays in terms of their offense versus our defense. And a lot of it was mental mistakes not concentrating, taking some chances we shouldn’t be taking. So we challenged them a little bit about practicing better this week. I think this team has enough talent to have some success, but we are not going to have success the way our schedule lines up unless we absolutely do everything the right way. So I’ve been just a little bit disappointed that this team has taken some things for granted. So it’s our challenge as coaches to get them going in the right direction … if you look at our schedule, we have to find a way to get some road wins and there is not a lot of road wins on that schedule [Maryland, Furman, UMass, Hofstra, James Madison, Richmond]. So we recognize that this is a road win we have to get.”

It is hard to say that a game this early in the season has huge playoff consequences, but this one does, especially for Delaware. This game will tell us a lot about how good Delaware is and what kind of team it has this year. This game, plus the JMU-App State game, also will tell us a lot about the strength of the CAA compared with the Southern Conference. I guess I have to call this an upset as it is the No. 24 team against the No. 6 team, so the upset meter is set high.
The Upset Meter Rating here is; [ - - - - - - - 8 - - ]
TV Coverage: None

Albany at No. 10 New Hampshire noon (Wildcats prevail at home): Albany beat Delaware a few years ago, and it has beaten Hofstra and taken UMass down to the wire. UNH struggled defensively big time last week against Rhode Island. This might be a tough matchup for UNH as Albany is capable of running the ball behind that big offensive line and controlling the clock, which could keep the ball out of the hands of R.J. Toman and the explosive New Hampshire offense. While it was mostly against the pass last week, still, UNH showed that it might have problems again on the defensive side.

I was tempted to pick the upset here. This could be a close game and an Albany victory here would not be a total surprise. But in the end, I am putting my trust in coach McDonnell and his staff, especially at home.
The Upset Meter Rating here is; [- - - - - - 7 - - -]
TV Coverage: None

Northeastern at Syracuse: 3:30 p.m. (Northeastern loses another tough one): Well, as Northeastern prepares to play its final game in this year’s opening “suicide road schedule,” an upset here is possible. This game pits two winless teams against each other, but I think Northeastern has been a little more impressive than Syracuse. This year’s Syracuse team is a bad one. It lost to Northwestern on the road by 20 points and at home to Akron by 14 points. Last week it got killed at home by Penn State 55-13, which is close to the same score that Penn State beat Coastal Carolina.

On the other hand, Northeastern played pretty good against a now 3-0 Ball State team and then took perennial Southern Conference power Georgia Southern to overtime before losing in a game it should have won. This still is FBS at home against the FCS so I’ll go with Syracuse here, especially considering it made this its homecoming game. If it wasn’t 0-3 I would give Northeastern a better chance. But I can’t imagine Syracuse starting out 0-4 with a loss to Northeastern at its homecoming game. Another factor that might hurt Northeastern is how it recovers from that tough loss last week. It could be down after that kind of game or it could use it as motivation for the next game, hard to tell. Hager had an interesting comment concerning playing in front of a hostile crowd: “ … good environment to be a part of. You always like to have the intensity of a crowd being there at the contest whether they are cheering for you or against you. There is still an electricity in the air, and you get to use that to try and inspire your play.”

I am setting the upset meter high here as I think Northeastern has a shot at this one.
The Upset Meter Rating here is; [ - - - - - - 7 - - - ]
TV Coverage: None

No. 9 Massachusetts at FBS No. 11 Texas Tech 7 p.m. (Too much to expect from UMass): I almost surprised everyone by picking the upset. But I just didn’t have the guts. My only two predictions that were wrong this year involved predicting FCS over FBS. Those games were Northeastern over Ball State and JMU over Duke, so I am trying to learn from my mistakes and not be such a “homer.”

Again, we always talk about matchups. Last week, I didn’t like the matchup against JMU for UMass and that proved correct. However, this week I do like how UMass matches up against Texas Tech. The Minutemen’s defensive strength is their blitz package and deep coverage; while Tech’s offensive strength is its traditional passing attack. If the Massachusetts blitz can get to Tech and produce a few stops or even turnovers, then it might have a chance. Coen, Cruz and company are good enough to score on Tech. But UMass will have to play an almost perfect game to win without any mistakes or costly penalties.

Before you think I am totally crazy, please consider the following: Tech’s first victory was against No. 14 Eastern Washington, and it was still in the game going into the fourth quarter as the score was 35-24. Tech scored twice in the fourth quarter to put it away. I have a funny feeling about this one. Texas Tech better be ready or UMass could become this year’s this year’s giant killer such as App State was last year.
The Upset Meter Rating here is; [ - - - - - - 7 - - - ]
TV Coverage: None (which is disappointing and difficult to believe)

Rhode Island at Hofstra 1 p.m. (Hofstra wins its first game): This is another game that is tough to pick. Before last week, I would have picked Hofstra and not worried about it too much, but that performance by Rhode Island last week has me wondering about this game. Hofstra is still reeling from the loss of its quarterback Savage for the entire year. It also lost a ton of players to graduation and are just in year three of Cohen’s rebuilding plan and with all the injuries there are many freshmen playing.

In the end though, I want to see Rhode Island play one more time before I become a believer. I just don’t think that Rhode Island is good enough defensively to win this one. It is definitely a toss-up game though, and I wouldn’t be surprised if this wasn’t the second straight week that Hofstra was forced into overtime.
The Upset Meter Rating here is; [Does not apply, toss-up game]
TV Coverage: None

Maine at No. 2 Richmond 3 p.m. (Richmond continues to roll): Maine has been better this year than I expected, but it doesn’t match up well against Richmond.

While Maine’s defense is still good, it isn’t the “black hole” defense of years past. Richmond is good enough on offense behind Eric Ward to score on Maine. But the real matchup problem for Maine is when it’s on offense. Farkes has been playing better this year, but he is not ready for this Spider defense, which I consider to be the best defense in the entire FCS. Maine needs to get the runningback, Fluellen, loose for some yards to keep the defense honest in order for Farkes to be effective. That isn’t going to happen. Richmond will shut down the running game, forcing Maine into the air where Farkes will have his problems against that strong secondary of Richmond headed by Rodgers and Hatcher.

Another factor might be the heat. In the past, some of the coaches from the North have discussed the disadvantage of heading south at this time of the year and playing in the heat. That, plus how well conditioned the Spiders are, will wear down the Black Bears. This game could be a little closer early on, but as the game progresses Richmond will take over and win going away.

When I asked coach Cosgrove after watching film on Richmond, what he thought about its defense he responded with: “Well there is a thing I am noticing about Richmond. They have a lot of scary guys in single digits.” At this point everybody broke out laughing. Then he followed with: “We have one on our side on defense [#9 Jovan Belcher] and they got two in Logan [#8] and Sidbury [#2] and then that McConaghy kid in the middle and Justin Rodgers in the secondary. There are just a lot of guys that are real fast to the football. I don’t think you can make mistakes against that defense … you have to be almost perfect in your execution because of the speed of that defense. We have really got to play an exceptional football game on the offensive side this week.”

Now it was coach London’s turn to talk about single-digit players: “We looked at Maine on film and they are a fast, athletic team, #9 Belcher, I can see why he is a preseason All American and All Conference pick because he is a guy that plays on the open side, the tight end side. He is all over the place. He is a guy that can wreck the game for you.”

So, if you like to watch defense you will love this game as three of the top defensive ends in the league are playing. I just think that Richmond has a better little offense than Maine and a better, or at least, deeper defense so it should prevail at home. In addition to the defensive ends in this game, I also believe the difference-makers will be Rodgers and Hatcher in the Richmond defensive backfield. They are two of the best I have seen this year.
The Upset Meter Rating here is; [ - - 3 - - - - - - - ]
TV Coverage: None

No. 19 Villanova at Penn 3:30 p.m. (Nova continues to roll): Another great local rivalry game for Nova as these two teams really don’t like each other. This game is being played at Franklin Field in Philadelphia and should have 25,000 or so in attendance. It will be a hard-hitting football game. But, as with Lehigh, this year’s Villanova team will be too much for Penn to handle. Look for Antwon Young to play better within coach Andy Talley’s system and rebound with a big game.

While I think Nova could win this one by two or more touchdowns, I am still going to set the Upset Meter a little high. That is mostly because it is such a great rivalry game, but also because Talley had interesting things to say this week about his quarterback Young that gives me some pause. It also is Penn’s opening gamer, so there is little to go by as to how good it might be this year.
The Upset Meter Rating here is; [ - - - - - 6 - - - -]
TV Coverage: CN8

Towson at Coastal Carolina 7 p.m. (Towson gets its second victory): I know I haven’t been that high on Towson this year, and with good cause. However, Coastal Carolina plays in a conference that is way below the CAA in quality. While you have to give it credit for opening up at Penn State, it still got clobbered, 66-10. Then it lost at home to Colgate, a team that Furman just beat bad. Last week it won its first game of the year, and it was on the road but against a weak Monmouth team.

Even though it’s on the road, I am just going with a gut feeling on this one and giving Towson the edge. I guess Towson would be considered the favorite due to the strength of the CAA, so a Coastal Carolina victory here might be considered an upset. This will be a close game though, and Towson is far from one of the best teams in the CAA so I will set the Upset Meter high here.
The Upset Meter Rating here is; [ - - - - - - 7 - - - ]
TV Coverage: None

Norfolk State at William & Mary 7 p.m. (The Tribe goes to 2-1): I have to give William & Mary the edge here for several reasons. The main reason is the strength of the CAA versus the MEAC, which is huge. While Norfolk State is one of the better teams in the MEAC, it is still the MEAC and William & Mary is a good team in the CAA. At home, it will just be too much for Norfolk State to handle. William & Mary also has impressed me so far this year with its play. Obviously, Jake Phillips is a talented quarterback but the Tribe are playing hard on both sides of the ball and their defense is solid, too.

Here is a quote form coach Laycock this week about Norfolk State: “They looked very, very good from what we have seen on film … it is not a team that we have played so we don’t know that much about them, so we’ll continue to look at them [on film] and learn. We’ll have to go into the ballgame and adjust depending on how they play things because again you have no real track record of them playing against us.
The Upset Meter Rating here is; [ - - 3 - - - - - - - ]
TV Coverage: None

Teams With A Bye Week: None! All 12 CAA teams are in action.

The CAA Today Mailbag:

This is a new feature to my column that I will add whenever I get e-mails that I think everyone will enjoy reading, especially after I open my big mouth and create some controversy. As expected, this last week brought quite a few e-mails from JMU fans concerning my questioning of coach Matthews about his passing attack. So, I thought I would share a few of them with you. The real nice thing about having this column is that it gives me the power to always get the last word in. The names were changed to just initials in an effort to protect the innocent and in some of these cases, even the guilty.

From C.K. (class ‘06’); “We have always criticized Mickey for being way too conservative … In short, I am not critical of Mickey anymore. I like to give him the benefit of the doubt that he is true to his word when he says that he likes mixing it up … This isn’t Mickey’s system. He likes having a semi-mobile QB like Rascati that, with a good running game, can get out of the pocket on play action. This is out of his comfort zone, and it’s no secret that if you shut down Landers you shut down JMU.”

My Last Word; Kind of my point, if you shut down Landers rushing, what options does JMU have?

From K.J. (another alum): “I wanted to respond to what Mickey Matthews said about the passing attack. I really don’t even know what he was talking about. There is no question in my mind that they don’t throw the ball enough and especially downfield. Duke was stacking the box and even on 3rd and long, they were calling running plays. It was almost as if they didn’t want to show too many plays early in the season and kept it pretty basic. Maybe Duke was better, but I still don’t know how they lost 31-7. Anyways, from one guy in purple, I do believe that we have a great team again, but if there is one weakness it is a balanced passing attack. They need to throw more! Rodney is good, I just wish they’d let him throw it more.”

My Last Word; Smart guy that K.J., he must have graduated top of his class.

From Daniel English Pierson; “ … my friend and I joke regularly that if you were to look at it from a Madden perspective, his favorite play would be HB dive, followed by a QB keeper or option. I haven’t seen JMU throw a pass over 30 yards since Justin Rascati left, and even then it was rare … I don’t know whether Mickey is delusional about his passing game, but I don’t think there are many people in Harrisonburg sending him letters telling him to throw more short passes; if he passes at all, it’s a 7-8 yard slant. I can’t say that I’ve always agreed with your analysis, but I think you were dead on and in the right to ask him the question you did!”

My Last Word; And yet another pretty clever guy from Harrisonburg.

From J.W.; “Anyway, last week I agreed with most of what you said, this week … not so much. Mickey was right on about what he told you. JMU airs it out PLENTY. Just because we learned from WVU’s spread offense, doesn’t mean we run it the same way. We don’t. We throw it MUCH more than WVU, deep balls included. Keep in mind, without LC Baker, we may be airing it out less than in previous years, but we just need someone to step up to be the new Baker. From what I’ve seen (season ticket holder), they’re going deep no more than they should, no less.”

My Last Word; Oh well, there is always one in every bunch isn’t there? Seriously though, about two thirds agreed with me and one third didn’t, indicating that coach Matthews might have been right last week when he said “ … so you all should get together. If you are going to get mad at me you all should get together with the same complaints.” Looks like there are those who do think they throw deep too much, I just don’t see any statistics to back that up.

J.W. also had a few things to say off the topic of the deep passing game that probably need addressing from me. Here they are; “The upset meter… you said it’s a toss-up. We’re #7, they’re #3. How is that not an upset? Maybe I don’t quite understand your “meter.”

My Last Word; Good point JW, perhaps in retrospect I should have used the meter and set it high in this case due to the rankings. My thinking was that at home, JMU was probably pretty even with them and in my mind, not considering the national rankings, the two were close to even anyway. I’ll try to pay more attention to that issue next time.

He also had this comment; “I also have to wonder about putting Villanova ahead of JMU in the rankings. To say that any of these FCS teams “played (insert FBS team) tough” is a ridiculous statement. I don’t know that you said that, but people say it. You WIN or you LOSE. Playing a team “tough” is stupid … So Villanova having a good game against WVU… means nothing. If you don’t win, it’s a loss, period. “We played Duke tough” in the first half, but we got crushed. It means nothing, we lost.”

My Last Word; Another good point JW, two out of three good points isn’t bad. It is true that in the end the wins and losses are really all that matters. I mean after all, the selection committee is not going to say “yea they played them tough even though they lost so put them in.” But, when I have to try and evaluate teams and try to get a handle on who is better and there have been only one or two games played, I am left with trying to see how though they played someone to try and get a gauge on how good the team might be. That is all you have to work with early on.

Keep those emails coming guys!

THE CAA TODAY SIGNING OFF

That’s all for now, enjoy this week’s games. Hope you enjoyed the column and don’t forget to email me your thoughts and comments; CAA-Today@verizon.net

PHOTO CREDITS

Please recognize the effort by the following people who have supplied the photos for your viewing pleasure in this article.

JMU Photos; Courtesy of Cathy Kushner
Rhode Island Photos; Courtesy of the University of Rhode Island
Delaware Photos; Courtesy of Mark Campbell
Villanova Photos; Courtesy of Mark Campbell, CSN
UMass Cruz Photo; Courtesy of Thom Kendall
Georgia Southern Northeastern game; Courtesy of Georgia Southern University
Hofstra Photos; Courtesy of Brian Bohl
Richmond Photos; Courtesy of Charlie Leffler
William and Mary Photos; Courtesy of Bob Keroack