The Rhode Island Rams will try to stop a school-record 14-game losing streak tomorrow when they welcome Stony Brook to Kingston. Despite being new to the CAA, the Seawolves are certainly no strangers to the win column. They finished their 2012 campaign at 10-3, including 5-1 in their former conference (the Big South), so Rhody has their work cut out for them. We already predicted a pretty lopsided loss when we previewed this contest, but after seeing URI’s performance last week, they may match up better with Stony Brook than we originally thought. Here are our five keys to Rhody’s first victory in 15 tries.
1. Generate Turnovers
This has been a problem for the Rams dating back to last season. They fail to generate any takeaways and therefore struggle to win field position battles in nearly every game. There’s been a spot in nearly each one of their last dozen or so games where Rhody has needed a key interception or fumble recovery. But so far, no dice. Just one turnover… ANY turnover… will go a long way towards ending the losing streak.
2. Stretch the Field
With the excellent running attack the Rams put together last week, they should have been able to use it to exploit the Fordham defense a little more. A play action pass or two to stretch the field and Bentsen could have been in business down the field. But instead, all we saw were a few dink and dunk passes. Those are all well and good, and the fifth-year senior didn’t have a terrible game, but Rhody could have aired it out a little more, especially in a game where they were trailing most of the way.
3. Pressure Negron
URI’s defensive line did a solid job last weekend, sacking Fordham quarterback Mike Nebrich three times in the loss. But they left him with too much time to throw on a few other occasions, and Nebrich made them pay with four touchdown passes in the game. Stony Brook has a similar situation to the Bronx Rams with Lyle Negron stepping in at QB following the graduation of Kyle Essington. Rhody can’t let the new Seawolves starter sit back and pick apart the secondary once again.
4. Limit Defensive Breakdowns
Joe Trainer can only ask so much of the defensive line in the passing game, however. The Rhody defensive backs need to do a better job in containing Stony Brook’s receiving corps. Fordham recorded passing touchdowns of 29, 32, 49, and 64 yards last Thursday, and Rhody can’t let the Seawolves run wild in the secondary tomorrow afternoon if they expect to win.
5. Punt the Football
This one seems pretty basic right? Well when a team can’t do the simple things, that’s when 14-game losing streaks happen. URI “launched” (and we use that term loosely) three punts under 20 yards against Fordham, including two punts that traveled less than 10 yards. There’s not much else to say about this one – punt the ball. The battle for field position is too important to keep having plays like these.
So who do you like in this one, Rhody fans? Let us know in the comments!