The Rhode Island Rams will close out their 2013 season tomorrow afternoon when they take on the Black Bears in Orono, Maine. Rhody comes into the game at 3-8 (2-5 in the CAA), but they’ll be looking to finish off a somewhat disappointing year on a positive note. Unfortunately, the best team in the conference is standing in their way. Maine currently sits at 9-1 (6-0) on the year, with their lone loss coming to the Northwestern Wildcats who were ranked #18 in the BCS standings at the time. The good news is that this could be a trap game for the Black Bears, so let’s see what the Rams will need to do to pick up a W.
1. Reignite the Defense
Remember the defense that was there for the Richmond game? Whatever happened to that defense? Since the big win over the Spiders, URI has allowed 35, 66, and 45 points over their past three games. Maine can certainly put up points in bunches, so if the defense from the past three weeks shows up, another blowout could be in the works.
2. Handle Wasilewski
Rhody got a bit of a warmup last week in preparation for Maine’s stellar quarterback. Unfortunately, the Rams didn’t contain ‘Nova QB John Robertson all that well. They’ll have to do a much better job this week against Marcus Wasilewski. The senior has thrown 20 touchdown passes through the first 10 games of the season, and rushed for three more. He’s not quite as big of a threat on the ground as Robertson is, but he more than makes up for it with his arm.
3. Get the Running Game Going
This one has seemed impossible since the injury to Justin Semmes, but Rhody will have one more crack at it. The Black Bears have given up an average of 224 yards on the ground over their past three games, but can URI take advantage? Robby Delgado and Eerin Young tallied just 13 yards combined on the ground last weekend… if the Rams can’t do better than that, they’re in trouble.
4. Extend Drives
One of the best ways to keep a high-powered offense in check is to keep them off the field. Rhode Island certainly didn’t do that last week, going a measly 2-14 on third downs. URI will need to sustain drives this week for a bevy of reasons, but keeping Maine on the sidelines has to be a priority.
5. Put In Maximum Effort
This game will be the last for several big-name URI players, including Bob Bentsen, Josh Moody, and Dougie Johnson. With that in mind, most of these guys are going to leave it all out on the field. If the underclassmen can match the intensity, the Rams should be able to give the Black Bears a run for their money at the very least.
So what are your thoughts, Rhody fans? Will URI end their season on a positive note? Let us know in the comments below.