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With CAA play, football gets more serious for Delaware
Few can argue that the University of Delaware football team looks quite strong through its first three games, easy wins over West Chester, South Dakota State and Duquesne in which the Blue Hens have given up just three field goals and exhibited offensive balance and firepower.
But as senior cornerback Tyrone Grant said quite accurately after Saturday’s win over Duquesne, none of that matters now with the challenges ahead for UD.
You’ve got to love Colonial Athletic Association football, huh?
We’ve already had James Madison’s absolutely epic 21-16 win at Virginia Tech, likely the CAA’s proudest achievement in a long history of toppling I-A foes.
“I’ve been in that chair where you say ‘Those guys are better than I want them to be,’ ” JMU coach Mickey Matthews said of what Virginia Tech likely thought of the Dukes while watching them on tape. “We didn’t have a turnover and didn’t give up any big plays. We felt like we had a chance to win if we did things right.”
Villanova was Temple’s equal, maybe even its superior, in a 31-24 opening-night loss. Temple, you may have noticed, handled UConn easily to go 3-0 Saturday.
And Massachusetts, which revealed its return to contention with an opening-day win over highly regarded William & Mary, gave Michigan a difficult time Saturday before falling 42-37. You can bet visions of Appalachian State were dancing in the heads of Wolverines faithful in Ann Arbor.
Then you have scores like Rhode Island 28, New Hampshire 25 — a week after UNH was competitive against Pitt — and it’s a reminder of the anything-can-happen personality the league has long had from top to bottom. Rhode Island had been blown out by Buffalo and nipped by Fordham.
Now Delaware begins CAA play with its first road game, which is both a difficult one and an appealing one. Richmond, Saturday’s 3:30 p.m. host, will be playing its second game in its new on-campus digs, Robins Stadium, where all it did two days ago was beat fellow Top 10 member Elon 27-21 in overtime.
Delaware coach K.C. Keeler said after the Duquesne win that QB Pat Devlin will be back in the saddle riding the Blue Hens’ offense. He was still wearing a cast on his broken left wrist Saturday and didn’t play, even though he could have. Delaware was fortunate to not need him yet, so he could have more time to heal.
Back-up Trevor Sasek did the job (7-for-9 passing with some nice running), and was more-than-adequately supported by his veteran offensive front — “They physically beat them up front,” Sasek said — tailback Andrew Pierce (freshman record 200 yards rushing) and that defense, which did bend against the Dukes, but didn’t given up any TDs.
Grant’s 45-yard interception return for a TD on the game’s sixth play was the perfect spark.
So now a Delaware team with grand ambitions gets its first major test. There will be many, but Richmond comes first.
“We’re 3-0 right now,” said Grant, who added a second interception later, “but we try to take one week at a time. Our motto this year is to go 1-0 in everything we do. We’ve got Richmond [Saturday] and that’s what we’re just going to focus on.”
By Kevin Tresolini, The News Journal