It was Comeback Saturday in the Association, with a hearty “Welcome Back” for one of the league’s venerated figures.
William and Mary picked up its first win of the season at the expense of the increasingly hapless Fighting Currys. Old Dominion prematurely hit the ‘cruise control’ button in a win against Richmond.
New Hampshire reprised its ODU performance for a half, all that was required against Delaware. Towson gave a good accounting of itself at LSU, returning with limbs intact and a big check. The Rhode Island Conference Wafflers offered only token resistance at Bowling Green.
However, we start with Villanova’s 35-14 win at Maine. The Wildcats moved to 4-1 overall, 2-0 in the league, and are relevant again after an epic nosedive.
Just two years removed from a national championship, and one year after a successful playoff run, ‘Nova fell to 2-9 in 2011 – the only wins a pity offering from Al Bagnoli at city rival Penn and a parting gift from out-the-door UMass.
Longtime coach Andy Talley, once the toast of the Main Line, lived in a tent alongside the Schuylkill River, collecting discarded lottery tickets and telling old Brian Westbrook stories.
Now, however, the color has returned to Talley’s cheeks and he’s again welcome at the Campus Corner. He’s at 194 wins and counting in 27 years at ‘Nova and 222 and counting overall.
‘Nova is still ridiculously young – one senior starter and three juniors on offense; four senior starters on defense. But the Wildcats have gained traction behind redshirt freshman QB John Robertson and sophomore tailback Kevin Monangai.
Robertson accounted for 207 yards and three touchdowns against Maine. Monangai rushed for a career-best 192 yards and two touchdowns as the Wildcats totaled 314 yards on the ground.
Meanwhile, ‘Nova’s defense limited Maine to 11 net yards rushing. The ‘Cats forced an un-Cosgrove-like 53 pass attempts, which led to seven sacks.
Though all stats come with a disclaimer at this time of the season, Villanova presently leads the CAA in rushing (256.4 ypg) and is in the top half of the league in most categories (the ‘Cats are ninth in passing, which gives the pass-friendly Talley the shakes, but hey, Philly wasn’t built or re-built in a day).
Notably, Talley again is a man to be reckoned with, even when he launches into Westbrook stories.
If Talley is in ascent, it’s time to wonder what sacrilege Bill Curry must have committed to endure his present fate.
Georgia State’s head coach and program architect is one of the decent and honorable figures in all of college football, a man who committed the sin of not delivering a national title as coach at Alabama and lived to tell about it.
But in his last lap as coach, Curry is witness to some truly awful football. On their way to the Football Bowl Subdivision and the Sun Belt Conference, the Fighting Currys aren’t even a decent FCS team.
The winless Panthers were dump-trucked by previously winless William and Mary 35-3, committing seven turnovers and never giving themselves a chance. Georgia State committed turnovers on four consecutive possessions in the first half.
The Currys are at or near the bottom of the CAA in most major stats (see disclaimer above). Compounding those numbers is a minus-13 turnover margin. Their four FCS losses are by an average of 26 points.
Meanwhile, the Tribe rushed for 312 yards – Keith McBride had a career-best 163 – and didn’t have to rely on Raphael Ortiz and the spotty passing game to make plays. Ortiz attempted only 13 passes, and the W&M defense held Georgia State to 249 yards.
ODU coach Bobby Wilder continues to have the luxury of wins to accompany talking and teaching points for his nationally-ranked bunch.
Against New Hampshire, the Monarchs survived a wretched 2 1/2 quarters of defense and finally made a couple of critical stops late as Taylor Heinicke and the offense simply wore out the Wildcats.
At Richmond, ODU aced the first half on both sides, then went on a comprehensive walkabout for about a quarter-and-a-half in its eventual 45-37 win.
Heinicke had good numbers, but admitted himself that he wasn’t as sharp as in previous outings. ODU’s defense missed assignments and turned players loose in the second half as Richmond scored 20 consecutive points and forced the ‘Narchs to execute late.
On the positive side, the Monarchs rushed for 232 yards. Though as all parties pointed out afterward, you should run effectively when you’re blocking only three defensive linemen, and the opponent drops seven or eight into pass coverage.
For all the talk of ODU’s new-look defense, the Monarchs have allowed an average of 563.5 yards and 342 yards passing in two CAA games. Last year’s team, which prompted the defensive shakeup, allowed 385.9 yards total offense and 251.4 yards passing in conference play.
If you’re making a list of concerns, ODU also logged triple-digit penalty yardage in both CAA games. The Monarchs have been hit with 218 yards in penalties in two league games and are currently 119th of 121 FCS teams, averaging 100.8 yards in flags per game.
New Hampshire’s ODU hangover apparently lasted one half. The Wildcats spotted Delaware a 7-0 halftime lead, then scored 34 consecutive points in the second half on the way to a resounding 34-14 win.
UNH scored on all six of its second-half possessions, not counting a kneel-down at the end, and amassed 409 yards in the second half. Receiver R.J. Harris, who ODU grew tired of watching, caught seven passes for 129 yards and two touchdowns.
The Wildcats intercepted Delaware QB Trent Hurley on consecutive plays in the fourth quarter, converting both into points. The Blue Hens’ first five possessions of the second half netted 30 yards, which hardly seems possible given their offensive line and running back Andrew Pierce.
Towson fell 38-22, but caused LSU to drop another spot in the weekly polls. Coach Rob Ambrose cleverly spelled all the pregame literature “Teauxson,” which made the Bayou Bengals think that they were facing kin and thus were only marginally engaged.
Towson outrushed LSU 188-158 and had an eight-minute advantage in time of possession. They also earned a reported $510,000 for the trouble.
Geaux Tigers.Copyright © 2015, CT Now