My rants and insight into Colgate athletics and Patriot League sports

Saturday, August 26, 2006

2006 Prognosticating the Patriot: Week 1

The days are getting shorter, the mornings a bit cooler and the students are heading back to school. For the readers of this blog, it surely means just one thing: The weeks, nay, months of salivating for the start of the football season are over. The first round of games are upon us!

This also means it is the third season that I will be doing a weekly preview (and picks) of the league's games. Love them, hate them - I promise it's all in good fun. And now, on with the show!

As has become typical, the opening week of the Patriot League tends to be heavy on the 'low to no equivalency' opponents. (Note to readers, I am trying to ditch the usage of 'mid-major' in my blog with the NEC's move to scholarships.) We've got four of them on tap, along with one league game and one huge Patriot/A-10 matchup. In all likelihood, the largest spotlight will be shining on that lastly mentioned key contest, barring any 'Central Connecticut-like' upsets.

With little to go on but prospectuses, hunches and intitution...

Duquesne @ Bucknell

Duquense of the MAAC is about as good a low equivalency program as they come. Year in and year out they put a good team out on the field and, with a winning record (7-6) against Patriot League teams this decade, clearly they have no issue 'playing up' - if you could even call it that. Ask Fordham who lost 30-13 last year if Duquense shouldn't be taken seriously. With that history and their 7-3 2005 record vs. Bucknell's 1-10 2005 record squaring off, on the surface this looks to be another great opportunity for the Dukes to knock of a school from a playoff conference.

Digging a little deeper, unfortunately for Bison fans, doesn't produce a much different picture. Eight offensive starters return led by the MAAC Rookie of the Year quarterback Scott Knapp and supplemented by a tailback tandem that almost ran for 1,000 yards. When he wants to throw, Knapp has 10 of his top 12 targets back to choose from. Bucknell will be trying to stop the Dukes with a brand new defensive line and a secondary that gave up serious points and yardage last season. Basically, Dorian Petersen can't do it all by himself here.

For Bucknell to win, pretty much like it will be for them all season, it will come down to their ability to put points on the board; and that responsibility will rest with the quarterback. Maybe Wilson is back, maybe it's Lair that will get the job done. Until someone emerges in this offense though, there is no reason to pick Bucknell in a game like this.

Predicted outcome: Duquense 32 Bucknell 18

Colgate @ Massachuesetts

What history this matchup has developed in such a short time! There is no reason to recall it all here and now, but suffice to say both teams have had this date circled for more reasons than just it was the first game of the year.

UMass comes into this contest much like last season: highly ranked and touted with a scary amount of talent and, unlike last year, with a home field advantage. Some of the same faces are still there too. Baylark, Coen, Ihedigbo... you've seen this routine before. UMass will have an experienced offense, talented defense and a hunger to shove it down Colgate's throats.

Colgate comes into this contest a little better off than last season, with some established stars and without the baggage of an embarrassing loss the week before. However, the task at hand for the Raiders remains the same. It will most likely take some help from timely turnovers and a bit of HooDoo magic for the boys from Hamilton to escape Amherst with a victory. It's certainly not impossible, nor would it be incredibly surprise to see Colgate pull out a victory. It's just not predictable.

Homer stays home on this one. With the questions on the defensive line and the horrible opening game record for the past decade, there should be no smart money on Colgate on Saturday. I predict a game much like 2004; it will be a good game well into the fourth quarter but ultimately, it's the Minutemen in this one.

Predicted outcome: UMass 34 Colgate 21

Monmouth @ Fordham

The Masella Era begins in the Bronx and the Ram faithful couldn't be happier to start this new chapter. The revamped Fordham gridders will face a potentially rebuilding Monmouth team that will have to do without the services of current NFL wideout Miles Austin. Monmouth was a 6-5 program last season that put more points on Lehigh than Fordham could and beat Albany, a team that the Rams lost too.

But that was then, and this is now. I think until proven otherwise, optimism (within reason) reigns on Rose Hill. Behind James Prydatko's running and Marcus Taylor's defensive leadership, Fordham should have more talent and depth there than Monmouth. It will be interesting to see if any of the new scholarship recruits see time and have any impact in this game. For now though, I think Prydatko rushes for over 100 yards fairly easily and carries Fordham to victory.
Predicted outcome: Fordham 28 Monmouth 10

Holy Cross @ Georgetown

The sole league contest pits two teams jockeying for maintain position in the middle of the league. Besides the fact that starting out the league 1-0 is every team's goal, Holy Cross needs to establish itself as more than just a one hit wonder and Georgetown is looking for some new direction under new head coach Kevin Kelly.

This should be an interesting defensive battle, as the Crusaders eight new offensive starters (losing all of their skill positions) will square off against one of the better defensive lines the Patriot League has this year. Going the other way, the Hoyas will take one of last season's worst offenses and put it up against one of last season's worst defenses in Holy Cross... if you can follow that logic!

Basically, I think Georgetown can contain Holy Cross's offense, but I don't know if Georgetown can score any points, even against Holy Cross's defense. At this point, there really isn't much more to say than that. If I could pick a 0-0 tie, I just might do it.

Predicted outcome: Georgetown 10 Holy Cross 7

Lafayette @ Sacred Heart

Lafayette should have no problem with this one. A loss here would be a greater upset than CCSU's defeat of Colgate last year. Sacred Heart's biggest win last year was against Stony Brook. Lafayette's a legitimate playoff contender, and just a break or two away from making the next round. You figure this one out!

Lafayette is on the road and has a new defense to break in. That's it. That's the Sacred Heart angle. Sure it's possible, but why in the world would anyone predict it? Maurer, Hurt and Company run circles over the Pioneers. Marvin Snipes chews the opposing line to pieces. This one should be much like, or worse than even, the Sacred Heart opener last year against Holy Cross; a 56-21 loss.

Predicted outcome: Lafayette 52 Sacred Heart 10

Albany @ Lehigh

Albany is a program on the move, without a doubt. However, they are facing one of the top programs of I-AA and have only one scholarship class under their belts. This game might show just how close the Danes are to breaking through to respectability... on the other hand this game might also be close for a half before a blow out. Your guess is as good as mine.

Sedale Threatt will be searching for some new faces to throw to and Lehigh will be working with a new coach and will be trying to find someone new to establish the running game. This could be an issue of concern as Albany might have some pretty good players on the defensive side of the ball that could give the Mountain Hawks some fits. Linebacker Colin Disch, defensive tackle Michael Dungey, defensive end Andre Coleman and cornerback Ryan Chrobak are all capable of elevating their games to a level that, on any given Saturday, provides the spark to upset a great program trying to get its feet wet.

That said, I don't think Lehigh will miss too many beats here offensively, and frankly, I don't think the Danes have the firepower to keep up with the boys from Bethlehem, even with the installation of a new 3-4 defense. Some fits and starts are predicted, maybe even a half-time score that raises eyebrows, but ultimately, Lehigh will score points and it will likely be more points than Albany

Predicted outcome: Lehigh 35 Albany 21
There you have it; week one. We should have some questions answered on Sunday, but I bet there will be a whole host more to tackle.

Good luck Patriot League teams!

2 Comments:

  • First week is so tough, but I would agree with your general assessment of Holy Cross vs. Georgetown...take the under. I don't care if it's less than 20.

    Hoya defense has some players, but new systems are always a little scary. Until the offense shows us something, we have to remain skeptical.

    By Blogger LBPop, at 9:25 PM  

  • I gave my prediction on AGS before reading yours--great minds 'almost' think alike!

    By Blogger Ngineer, at 1:49 PM  

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