Patriot League: Week 8 Preview

Colgate (3-4, 1-1) at Holy Cross (2-5, 1-1) – Oct. 21st 12 PM Fitton Field Worcester, MA

Live Stream – Patriot League Network

Brian Rock’s first game as the interim head coach at Holy Cross is a big one. The Crusaders host Colgate on homecoming in an important Patriot League showdown. Rock, who had been the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach the last 2.5 years, takes over after Tom Gilmore was let go early last Sunday. Holy Cross enters the game on a 4 game losing. The most recent of which was an extremely ugly 32-0 shutout loss to Yale that sent Gilmore packing. Rock’s first order of business will be to find the offensive mojo that put up 51 points against New Hampshire and not the one the was held scoreless last week and then limited to 7 points two Saturdays ago in a devastating league loss to Lafayette. Peter Pujals is arguably coming off the worst game (10-22 89 yards) of his illustrious career so getting him right will go a long way towards having a chance to beat Colgate and make a late season run at the league title.

In general, the Crusader defense (384 ypg allowed, 68th in FCS) has played reasonably well. They’ll need to be at the top of their game this Saturday against a Colgate offense that is picking up steam as Grant Breneman (161 ypg, 10 TDs 1 INT, 38 ypg rushing 2 TDs) gets more comfortable at quarterback. The Raiders have torched the two (Fordham & Lehigh) worst defenses in the league the last two weeks so there is some context with the recent improvement. There’s no doubt Holy Cross will be a step up in class defensively. Breneman must continue his smart decision making in the passing game and let the rushing attack lead the way. The return of James Hollond Jr.(career high 166 yards last week) makes Colgate’s running game even potent thus taking pressure off of Breneman. If the freshman quarterback can avoid mistakes and the running attack eats up yards/clock the Raider offense will be tough to stop. Holy Cross’s defense line must be able to hold up along the line of scrimmage. If they do, McBeath and Ryan Brady should be able to make plays from the linebacker position.

This is such a fascinating game because there’s really no way to know what to expect. It’s been a whirlwind week for Coach Rock and his players that it’s anyone’s guess as to how they’ll respond. Odds say they come out loose with a nothing to lose attitude. That will give the Crusaders a chance to win at home. However, Colgate seems to be picking up momentum and appear to be on a mission to avenge the brutal loss to Lehigh.

Prediction: Colgate 27 Holy Cross 21

Fordham (1-6, 0-2) at Georgetown (1-5, 0-1) – Oct. 21st 2 PM Cooper Field Washington, D.C.

Live Streaming – Patriot League Network

Fordham heads to our nation’s capital to take on Georgetown in a game that features two teams in desperate need of a win. The Hoyas have lost 5 straight games since their season opening victory over Campbell. Fordham is also on a 5 game skid and are guaranteed to finish with their first losing season since 2011. Seven weeks ago no one could have imagined the Ram’s season would have spiraled to these depths given their recent run of success and the amount of firepower they returned on offense. But Edmonds and Anderson have battled through injuries much of the year and the defense remains a major liability. The end result is a 1-6 record that has relegated the Rams to spoiler status. Georgetown’s issues run much deeper so there’s no quick fix. The two positives the Hoyas have going for them are the emergence of Gunther Johnson (155 ypg 2 TDs 0 INTs, 32 ypg rushing 4 TDs) and the fact they always play hard. They nearly knocked off a much better Ram team last year in the Bronx by using an awesome defensive performance.

If Georgetown is to get over the hump this year against Fordham the Hoya defense will be what leads the way. The Rams offense is a shell of its former self so there’s a good chance they’ll contribute to their own demise. The unit has scored 10, 10 and 12 points in Fordham’s 3 most recent losses and currently ranks 91st in FCS in scoring (19.6 ppg). With Edmonds (329 yards 1 TD for season) still not up to full strength and Anderson battling his own ailments things don’t figure to get much better this week. The 2017 version of the Hoya defense is not as good as recent editions either but they’ve had to deal with an offense that has been extremely limited. As a result, the Hoya “D” often plays well early in games before fatigue costs them as.

The Rams pride is really on the line is this game. The Hoyas continue to be looked at as the hopeless non-scholarship cellar dweller in the Patriot league. Any team that loses to the Hoyas is immediately chastised for “reaching their depths”. Well, with Fordham’s current trajectory it seems quite possible they’re “that team” that is destined to fall to the Hoyas. Expect Gunther Johnson to play well at quarterback and the defense to do just enough to allow Georgetown to pull off a rare league win.

Prediction: Georgetown 24 Fordham 19

Bucknell (3-3, 0-1) at Lafayette (2-5, 2-0) – Oct. 21st 3 PM Fisher Stadium Easton, PA

Live Stream – Patriot League Network

Bucknell, the only .500 or better team in the Patriot League heading into week 8, ventures to the Lehigh Valley to take on Lafayette in a pivotal game in the chase for the championship. This figures to be a low scoring, defensive battle. Both teams have struggled to varying degrees on offensive mostly due to suspect play in the trenches. The lack of quality offensive line play is the main reason why the Leopard rushing attack ranks 122nd (9.1 ypg) out of 123 teams in FCS. With a historically bad ground game Sean O’Malley has been forced to carry the offense on his shoulder which is not something you want your freshman quarterback to do. The deficiencies on offense make it all the more impressive that they’re 2-0 in league play. Although, if the Leopards continue to average12 points a game over the course of the season things won’t end well.  Abdullah Anderson and company are easily the best defense Lafayette has faced sine Villanova.

The Bison’s offense has rarely been known as an explosive unit and this year is no different (21.2 ppg). The one positive Coach Susan can point to though is an improving rushing attack the last games after the running back duo of Joey DeFloria and Chad Freshnock got off to a slow start to the season. An emerging rushing game along with a defense that ranks 1st in the Patriot League in ppg allowed (23.1) make the Bison a dangerous team as the season hit the stretch run. Ideally Bucknell wants the ground game to lead the way and then they will pick their spots with quarterback John Chiarolanzio. The Leopard defense played great (7 and 10 points allowed) in their wins over Holy Cross and Fordham but those are teams lacking confidence. Conversely, Bucknell enters this game playing pretty good football. The Bison will attack the Leopard front 7 front from the start of the game and if they have success, which they should, they’ll try to hit a big play with speedy wide receivers Jack Horan and Alan Butler.

Both of these teams were expected to be towards the bottom of the league standings when the dust settled in late November. While that could still happen it seems likely that at least one will be in the thick of title hunt until the last weekend of the year. The odds favor Bucknell because they have fewer question marks in all 3 phases. Bison kicker John Burdick could be a real difference maker in close, low scoring games.

Prediction: Bucknell 31 Lafayette 16

Written by 

Related posts