So after playing an FBS team week one, things should get a little easier for URI football in week two, right? Eh, not quite. Rhody will be on the road once again when they face off against the Fordham Rams. Now you’re probably thinking, “Ha! Fordham, they’re never good.” That’s not the case, at least when it comes to football. The Bronx Rams finished up 2013 as the #9 team in the country, and received an at-large bit into the FCS Tournament a year ago. They also put up 51 points against Rhode Island last season in a 25-point home victory. So yeah, this is going to be a tough one. Let’s break it down.
2012 Record: 12-2 (0-0 in the Patriot League*)
Key Losses: RB Carlton Koonce, LB Jake Rodriques, DB Ian Williams
Key Returners: QB Michael Nebrich, WR Sam Ajala, WR Brian Wetzel
*Fordham is not eligible for the Patriot League championship because they have scholarship players. The rest of the Patriot League teams do not.
Player to Watch: QB Michael Nebrich
So URI really has their hands full with a couple of solid QBs in their first two games. Against Fordham, they’ll have to deal with a guy that they couldn’t really contain last season: UConn transfer Michael Nebrich. The then-junior completed 17 of his 25 passes for 267 yards and four touchdowns back on August 29 of last year as he led his team to a big victory over Rhody. Nebrich also ran for a score in that game as he padded some of his ridiculous season totals. Check ‘em out: Nebrich completed 73.5 percent of his passes a year ago, tallying 4380 yards and 35 touchdowns… all in just 13 games. He also ran for nine more TDs on the season, making him responsible for 44 scores on the year, an average of about 3.4 per game.
So yeah, Nebrich can put some points on the board. Let’s hope Rhody can game-plan for the explosive quarterback a little better this time around. If not, Jim Fleming’s Rams could find themselves playing catch-up all game.
Prediction: Fordham 38 – Rhode Island 20
With Fordham returning most of their key players from 2013 (except running back Carlton Koonce), they figure to be in the mix for a Top 25 rank and an at-large bid into the FCS Tournament once again. Add in the fact that this is a home game for them and the odds seem to be stacked against Rhode Island. Expect the Rhody defense to keep Fordham from completely blowing this one open, but it’s going to take something really unexpected for URI to pull off an upset.