College Sports Journal CAA Football Preview Week of 3/6/21

As we enter the third week of the Spring season, the full CAA will join the fun with five games this weekend.

James Madison, the new #1 team in the FCS has already played two games. Also having played two games is Elon. Those two will match up in North Carolina this weekend.

The North division gets underway with a huge playoff implication game right away when Albany visits New Hampshire Friday night. North favorite Villanova, will be looking to prove they are a legitimate top 5 team at Stony Brook.

Four of the five games have teams who have legit chances to make the playoffs if things break right for them. With only six at large bids in the FCS playoff field this year, no one can afford a bad early loss.

Albany at New Hampshire
TV: NBC Sports Boston
Streaming: FLO Sports (subscription req’d)

This game features two of the better young quarterbacks in the FCS in Albany sophomore Jeff Undercuffler and New Hampshire sophomore Max Brosmer.

Undercuffler was the runner up for the Jerry Rice award in 2019 to Trey Lance. He will be looking to continue his ascension as one of the best quarterbacks not only in the CAA, but in all of the FCS.

Brosmer struggled a little as a freshman with turnovers but showed flashes that he was the right go to run the offense.

Each team also features excellent running backs with Albany’s Karl Mofor and New Hampshire’s Dylan Laube. The key will be which defense can get a key turnover and set its offense up with a short field.

Last season, these two teams played to a 24-17 Albany home win with the winning points coming midway through the fourth quarter.

Fearless Prediction: For all the talk about the offensive weapons on both sides, the biggest talent difference is on defense. That’s where New Hampshire has the advantage. Expect the Wildcats to come out on fire with the return of Coach Sean McDonnell from cancer and hold on for the win. New Hampshire 27, Albany 24

Maine at Delaware
Streaming: FLO Sports (subscription req’d)

Just two seasons removed from an unbeaten CAA record, Maine is looking to get back to the playoffs and prove they are a team that will need to be dealt with.

Delaware, as usual, has a strong defense coming into the season.

Also as usual, the Blue Hens are looking for the solution at quarterback. They think they have it now with Nolan Henderson. He is a dual threat quarterback who can keep defenses honest as long as his throws are accurate.

Joe Fagnano took over the starting QB job for Maine in the 2019 season and brings some stability to a team who has seen a lot of turnover via transfers and coaches departing.

Fun Fact: Maine Freshman wide receiver Montigo Moss is the son of NFL Hall of Famer Randy Moss.

Fearless Prediction: Expect a low scoring game with both defenses establishing their dominance. Maine should be able to get the run game going behind their huge offensive line that averages 311 pounds per man to open up the pass game for Fagnano. Maine 17, Delaware 10

Villanova at Stony Brook
Streaming: FLO Sports (subscription req’d)

Villanova enters the Spring as the favorite in the CAA North Division. The Wildcats enter the weekend as the #5 team in the Stats Perform poll this week and will look to keep their hold on a potential seed in the playoff field.

Under Chuck Priore, you can guarantee one thing for Stony Brook, they will have a tough defense to play against.

On offense, the Seawolves are a little less impactful. However, Tyquel Fields showed last season that he can handle the pressure at quarterback. He needs to cut down on the interceptions, especially against an aggressive secondary like Villanova.

The Wildcats return the best quarterback in the CAA, Daniel Smith, and one of the top running backs, Justin Covington. This offense is going to be tough to stop.

With an above average defense, Villanova will be looking to do big things this season. The only thing that can hold them back is the same thing that has been holding them back since the days of John Robertson, injuries.

Fearless Prediction: This game probably will not be close. If it is close, that would be because Villanova played sloppy and turned the ball over. Despite Fields’ best efforts, look for Smith and Villanova to cruise in this one. Villanova 41, Stony Brook 24

William & Mary at Richmond
TV: NBC Sports Washington
Streaming: FLO Sports (subscription req’d)

Both of these teams enter the spring realistically hoping to improve for the fall. But with them both being in the same place, this could lead to a competitive game.

Overall the Tribe are a young team with a good coach in Mike London.

William & Mary returns Hollis Mathis at quarterback. Mathis struggled a little bit as a freshman but got valuable experience, something he will be seeking during the six games in the spring. But if the defense can hold and force a punt, the Tribe automatically become dangerous.

Bronson Yoder is one of the best return men in the conference even though he is only a sophomore. Yoder can score from anywhere on the field and will be used in a number of different ways for the Tribe.

The Spiders return one of the least talked about good quarterbacks in Joe Mancuso. A true dual threat quarterback, Mancuso is a threat on every play.

The Spiders also have a solid running back in Aaron Dykes who is also a threat in the return game. Richmond may be able to score, but they have trouble keeping the other team off the scoreboard and that will be their issue in the Spring eventually.

Fearless Prediction: Don’t look for either of these teams to figure into the playoff picture. But Richmond is farther along in their development, so take the Spiders in this one. Richmond 31, William & Mary 20

James Madison at Elon
Streaming: FLO Sports (subscription req’d)

James Madison is the new #1 team in the FCS and they want to prove that their first half struggles against Robert Morris were just a blip on their road back to Frisco.

Elon is potentially starting their third string quarterback after losing Davis Cheek before the season and Joey Baughman in the second game.

The Dukes feature a strong four-headed monster at running back with Percy Agyei-Obese, Juwon Hamilton, Latrele Palmer and Solomon VanHorse behind their experienced offensive line.

Cole Johnson has gotten the start in both games at quarterback but struggled last week, nearly getting pulled before settling down. Look for the Dukes to pound the run and pass opportunistically.

Kris Thornton has been the main target for Johnson and his speed has been noticeable.

Through two games, Elon has struggle with two in state opponents that they should have beaten easily. A preseason top 25 team, the quarterback losses have really hurt the Phoenix. Their best bet will be to stay healthy through the Spring and be ready for the fall season.

Fearless Prediction: Elon has never beaten James Madison on its home field, and none of the games have been close. This one will not change that narrative. Expect the Dukes to run all over the Phoenix and lock them down on defense as well. James Madison 41, Elon 10

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