The CAA had an excellent regular season in 2018 culminating with a record 6 playoff berths. However, once they got there, everyone except for Maine fell flat. The Colonial again looks strong with most every team feeling like they have a shot at the playoffs.
PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH
The Dukes have a Frisco or bust attitude going into the 2019 season. With 19 returning starters, the Dukes are at or near the top of everyone’s list of title favorites. Can they protect the ball better in 2019? That is the main question facing this team.
A year ago, Maine was picked to finish 8th in the CAA. All they did was go out and win the league outright. Nick Charlton is the new head coach, replacing Joe Harisymiak. The Black Bears again expect to compete for a conference title and make another deep run in the FCS playoffs.
Elon lost Coach Curt Cignetti to James Madison, but the Phoenix are still a talented team. There is a strong foundation on defense – previous defensive coordinator Tony Trisciani was promoted to head coach – and talent on offense. When healthy, QB Davis Cheek is among the top quarterbacks in the league. In the run game, RB Jaylan Thomas may be the best back in the entire CAA.
Towson was an offensive juggernaut with an adequate defense. QB Tom Flacco leads the offense with his arms and legs. Towson is going to be a tough out and will be looking to avenge an embarrassing opening round playoff loss at home against Duquesne.
It feels like we have been saying this since Joe Flacco left, but if Delaware can find a consistent quarterback, they could be a dangerous team. The defense is younger than it has been in recent years, but still should be quite good.
If Villanova can ever stay away from the injury bug, they are as good as any team in the FCS. The talent and recruiting is there. If the health is there, this team will not be a mid pack team, they will challenge for a conference title.
New Hampshire had its long playoff streak broken in 2018. With Trevor Knight and Neal O’Connor both having graduated, it looks like another season outside the playoffs for the Wildcats despite an improving defense.
Rhody was picked to finish at the bottom of the CAA in 2018, but they made some noise early before falling off toward the end of the season. The Rams finished in the middle of the pack, but threatened for a playoff berth for the first half of the season. Middle of the pack is about where they project again for this year; can they overachieve again?
Stony Brook returns with a stingy defense, but the offense lost nearly all of its weapons. Its hard to win in the CAA without a good offense. The Seawolves will struggle to put up points. Even with the defense keeping them in games, it wont be enough to send them back to the playoffs.
Once a CAA power and lock to make the playoffs, Richmond has really fallen off the last couple of years. Even with a good offense, the Spiders were often fighting from behind due to a poor defense. There is talent on the defense, but not enough of it.
William & Mary
After 39 years, a new head coach will be patrolling the sidelines in Williamsburg. Jimmye Laycock retired and turned the reigns over to Mike London. It may take a couple years down here at the bottom of the standings, but London will eventually get the Tribe back into a position to compete in the CAA.
Of all the CAA teams, Albany is the one that doesn’t seem to have much hope for the 2019 season. They lack on both sides of the ball and are destined for the cellar of the league.
5 BIG CAA CONFERENCE GAMES TO WATCH:
- Towson at Maine 9/14
- James Madison at Elon 9/28
- Maine at Villanova 9/28
- Delaware at Elon 10/12
- Towson at James Madison 10/26
10 PLAYERS TO WATCH FROM THE CAA
Offensive Players to Watch
- Tom Flacco, QB – Towson
- Aaron Parker, WR – Maine
- Jaylan Thomas, RB – Elon
- Dev Holmes, WR – Albany
Defensive Players to Watch
- Manny Patterson, DB – Maine
- Ron’Dell Carter, DL – James Madison
- Christian Benford, DB – Villanova
- Pop Lacey, DB – New Hampshire
Special Teams Players to Watch
- DeAngelo Amos, PR – James Madison
- Earnest Edwards, KR – Maine
Jamie is a proud 2002 graduate of James Madison University. He’s witnessed the growth of the program from no one in the stands in 1998, to the hiring of Mickey Matthews, to the 2004 National Championship, to the 2008 team, to the struggles in the early 2010s, and finally the rebuild under Mike Houston. He also allegedly really enjoys Washington, DC-based Stanley Cup winners.
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