There’s no way to sugar-coat it. Jim Fleming and his coaching staff have their work cut out for them this season as they try to improve a Rhody football squad that’s won a combined three games over the past two seasons. And if the Rams can’t turn some of last year’s losses into wins, they can at least try to narrow the gap between their team and the rest of the CAA. There’s no better example that Delaware, who dropped 35 points on URI at Meade Stadium last year. And at 4-4, the Blue Hens were the definition of an “average” team in the conference in 2013. Can Rhody be more competitive this time around?
2012 Record: 7-5 (4-4 in the CAA)
Key Losses: RB Andrew Pierce, DL Zach Kerr, DB Travis Hawkins
Key Returners: QB Trent Hurley, TE Nick Boyle, WR Michael Johnson
Player to Watch: RB Jalen Randolph
Not to bring up painful memories, but Delaware running back Andrew Pierce absolutely torched the Rhode Island defense a year ago. How bad was it? Try 21 carries, 124 yards, and three touchdowns, including a 75-yard dagger at the start of the third quarter. The good news is that Pierce has since graduated, so UD has some questions to answer in their backfield. It will be rising sophomore Jalen Randolph who will most likely provide those answers. The 6’1″, 200-pound back tallied 319 yards and five scores in 2013 as a backup to Pierce, with most of those numbers coming in garbage time. Randolph will now be thrust into a much bigger role – how will he fare? Rhody will have to key on him this time around and try to slow the Blue Hens’ ground attack.
Prediction: Delaware 28 – Rhode Island 17
Unfortunately, Delaware is returning a majority of their starting offense aside from Pierce, so they still figure to be explosive. Quarterback Trent Hurley also had himself a day in Kingston last year, and this time he’ll get to try his luck in front of his own fans. Expect URI to keep things a little bit closer this time around, but the Blue Hens should come away with the hard-fought win.