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Delaware, CAA rivals face big-time tests
Pedigree counts more than NCAA classification as the college football season begins this week and several Colonial Athletic Association teams, including Delaware, aim for ambushes.
The Blue Hens visit Navy at 3:30 p.m. Saturday in one of six games matching the CAA’s FCS teams against FBS foes.
Since what was then called NCAA Division I-AA began in 1978, CAA teams have gone 28-120 (.189) against I-A (now FBS) opposition.
Nineteen of those 28 wins came from 2000 through 2010, including four in 2009 – Villanova over Temple, William & Mary over Virginia, Richmond over Duke and New Hampshire over Ball State.
Last year, James Madison stunned Virginia Tech 21-16.
“It’s pretty evident,” Villanova coach Andy Talley said Monday, “that when you play a CAA team you’re going to be in for a run.”
Navy would know, having been defeated by Delaware in 2003 and 2007.
“There’s no sneak attack with us and Navy,” said Delaware coach K.C. Keeler, whose Blue Hens also lost in Annapolis in 2004 and 2009.
CAA teams reached seven of the last eight NCAA title games, winning four, and have had 18 playoff qualifiers the last four years.
Ten of the 11 CAA teams are playing an FBS opponent this season, the only exception being league newcomer Old Dominion, in just its third football season.
This week, in addition to Delaware’s trip to Navy, James Madison visits North Carolina, New Hampshire goes to Toledo, Richmond travels to Duke, William & Mary visits Virginia and Villanova tackles Temple at Lincoln Financial Field.
Delaware has three other future games scheduled against FBS opponents – Navy on Sept. 14, 2013, and Pittsburgh on Aug. 30, 2014, and Aug. 31, 2019. All are on the road.
The 2013, 2014 and 2019 seasons are those in which FCS teams are permitted to play 12 regular-season games, instead of the normal 11, because of the extra weekend on the calendar between Labor Day and Thanksgiving in those years. FBS teams are permitted to play 12 games every regular season.
“I’m not in favor of I-A games,” Keeler said, saying Delaware will only have one in 12-game seasons. “I don’t really see the benefit of a I-A game. I’d rather just play an all I-AA schedule, personally.”
he large crowds and resulting economic benefit from games at Delaware Stadium mean Delaware is not as inclined as its conference brethren to schedule games against FBS opponents, in which there is typically a large payoff.
“The goal of our program is not to win a I-A game,” Keeler said. “The goal of our program is to win a national championship. Then what’s the best way to put ourselves in position to win a national championship? Probably not playing I-A games.”
QB: Wait and see
Delaware will not name a starting quarterback prior to Saturday, Keeler said Monday.
“Whoever trots out there on our first offensive possession, you guys will know that’s who the starting quarterback is, and I’ll know who the starting quarterback is,” he said.
“In fact we might even have a competition, who can get out there first, and whoever gets out there first we’ll name him the starter.”
Redshirt sophomore Trevor Sasek, who stepped in when Pat Devlin was injured last year, and junior Tim Donnelly have alternated first-team snaps in practice.
“We’re not looking at this thing where anyone has won the competition or lost the competition,” Keeler said. “We think both of these guys have pushed each other and made each other better.”
By KEVIN TRESOLINI, The News Journal