As I was driving through Virginia in February on a business trip, I was passing through Charlottesville late in the afternoon the day after a rare Virginian snow. Time was short but I pulled off the highway and drove up the mountain on the edge of town to Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello. It was just a half hour before closing time and they weren’t selling anymore tickets to the grounds. After laying it on pretty thick to the man working in the ticket shop about what a rare opportunity it was for me shoot the landmark covered in snow, he relented and gave me a complimentary grounds ticket if I promised to be quick with my photography around the grounds. And quick I was as I approached from east entrance and then worked my way around to the west side of the house that is featured on the back of the nickel. I wrapped things up by stopping by the Jefferson family cemetery where he was laid to rest.
A Tale of Hawks & Mockingbirds
The expression “hawkeye” refers to the ability to focus and see well into the distance with clarity. Watching the bird atop the light pole reminded me how hawks can possess such amazing vision …
Geolocation War Raising the Stakes
Don’t look now but the Foursquare vs. Gowalla showdown is getting more intense with the added intrigue of major suitors expressing interesting in perhaps purchasing one of the two clear standouts in the geolocation landscape …
Tiger’s Better Late Than Never Crisis Communications
or the first time since his sex scandal broke, Tiger Woods faced the media without any preconditions for 36 minutes. Frankly it was 3-to-4 months overdue. If he had been this forthcoming in the early stages of the scandal it probably would have never spun so far out of control …
Geolocation Train Picking Up Steam … Are you on right track?
Geolocation has been a buzz word in communication circles for some time now. GPS-enabled devices are commonplace today among even the least tech-savvy consumers. But it is the potential of geolocation apps that has those of us in the communications world drooling …
Once again, the Liberty Flames close out their regular season against the Stony Brook Seawolves. After last year’s heartbreaking loss on Long Island, LU will be looking to exact some revenge at Williams Stadium on November 20th.
The Seawolves have reveled in their Big South Co-Championship they earned last November with their dramatic victory in the closing seconds against the Flames. It has been a boon in recruiting for SBU and given their players a great deal of confidence heading into the 2010 season.
Chuck Priore is the toast of Long Island after capturing a share of the Big South Championship last fall in just his 4th season at SBU. It certainly doesn’t hurt his standing that he now leads the only FCS program on the island after Hofstra dropped football earlier this year. Stony Brook’s proximity to Hofstra helped the Seawolves scoop up a number of the Pride’s stronger refugees. In fact, the Stony Brook roster for 2010 boasts a total of 25 transfers. In addition to five guys from Hofstra and another from the other program that died at Northeastern, there are also a pair from Maine. Four FBS transfers are joined by 10 JUCOs and 3 more from Division II schools. It would appear Priore spends almost as much time trying to convince kids to transfer as he does chasing high school talent. There is no denying the Hofstra kids in particular have raised the overall level of talent of the Seawolves from last year.
Offensively the Seawolves are stacked with weapons. Junior quarterback Michael Coulter leads a well-balanced attack that gave the Flames fits in the season finale last year. The one-time Syracuse Orangeman-turned-JUCO passer threw for 2060 yards in 11 games for 15 TDs & 10 INTs.
Edwin Gowins is a horse and when he’s healthy he can carry the Seawolves offense. The junior has been 1st Team All-Big South in both his freshman & sophomore years. He was even named National Freshman of the Year in 2008 by College Sporting News. Despite a gimpy foot and sharing carries with the now graduated Conte Cuttino, he rushed for 890 yards in 10 games with 9 TDs while piling up 6.1 yards per carry. While Gowins is essentially a non-factor in the passing game, a pair of Hofstra transfers provide the Seawolves with some diversity. Miguel Maysonet & Brock Jackolski should both be involved in the run game.
The Seawolves got big time production in ’09 out of a true freshman named Jordan Gush. The Texan caught 26 passes for 413 yards and a team-high 6 TDs. On the other side, senior Donald Porter provides another playmaker. He caught 25 passes for a team-gh 476 yards (19 yards per catch) and 5 TDs. You may remember Porter as the guy in the Wildcat who threw the 2-point conversion pass late against the Flames.
The good news from a Liberty perspective when looking at the Seawolves defense is the fact Tyler Santucci is gone. The Big South Defensive Player of the Year leaves a big hole to fill for SBU. But safety Arin West is a terrific talent who will take on the leadership role. He posted 80 tackles from the secondary last fall and collected 6 turnovers (3 INTs & 3 Fumble Recoveries).
There is no question that the Seawolves have the respect of everyone in the Big South after becoming the first league team to beat LU in 3 years. They should once again challenge the Flames for the league title and I would be shocked if this season-ending game didn’t determine to some degree who the Big South awards its first ever auto bid to the playoffs.
After three seasons of disappointment, there is an air of excitement building at Coastal Carolina. Are the Chants finally prepared to make a run at another Big South title?
The last time the Flames & Chants met on the field it was ugly. Really ugly. LU putting a 58-point shellacking on CCU in front of a boisterous crowd at Williams Stadium. The game sent a strong message to Conway that the Flames were not only the top dog in the conference but the Chants had fallen way off the pace.
As you might suspect, this hasn’t sat well with the colorful yet intense coach of the Chants, David Bennett. His reaction this spring bordered on the bizarre. Instead of trying to get a tighter grip on his players and staff, instead he backed away to a certain degree having each of his assistant coaches take on the role of head coach for a practice. Seriously. But tough times often lead men to innovation. The jury is still out whether it was a wise decision or not. Last season, the Chants won all five of their home games. Big cheers in Conway! Unfortunately they dropped all six games on the road. In 2010, they have the same split between home & road games but two of their trips stand out as very tough matchups: 9/7 @ West Virginia & 10/2 @ Richmond. Obviously FlameFans can attest to how difficult it is to play a season opener at Morgantown. And the trip to 2008 National Champion Richmond will be played in their brand new Robins Stadium on UR’s campus. So there will certainly be a buzz around the Spiders.
The CCU quarterback situation has plenty of drama. Wake Forest transfer Zach MacDowell is back fro his senior season after throwing for 1664 yards with 9 TDs & 11 INTs in ’09. CCU fans have been begging to see more of junior Jamie Childers since arrived as a ballyhooed signing out of Hargrave Military Academy. Childers didn’t look impressive in limited action last season despite three starts. This summer the Chants added troubled transfer Aramis Hillary from South Carolina. After getting the boot from Steve Spurrier following drinking-related charges in March, he brings a ton of athletic ability to Conway with some obvious concerns attached. The top returning rusher is senior Eric O’Neal. He posted 377 yards and a pair of TDs in primarily a backup role in 2009. Outside, senior receiver Brandon Whitley remains a threat after hauling 30 passes for 469 yards and 4 TDs in 2009. It should also be noted that offensive lineman Kenneth Page transferred in from Clemson after getting the boot by Dabo Swinney and he could have an immediate impact.
Defensively, junior cornerback Josh Norman is the name that jumps off the page. In ’09, he picked off 8 passes and began attracting the attention of NFL scouts. Junior linebacker Desmond Steward is back after leading the Chants with 60 tackles a year ago. In fact, 9 of CCU’s top 10 tacklers are back for more in 2010.
The combination of a strong returning cast and the fact that LU-CCU matchups at Brooks Stadium have traditionally gone down to the wire leads me to expect more of the same in 2010. There is a sense of win at all costs coming from Conway based on some of their recent transfers and the fact that the school has invested heavily in the program the past few years and expects some ROI. I fully expect the Chants to be in the hunt for the Big South title when the two teams meet on November 13th.
It seems every season there is a buzz surrounding Gardner-Webb that winds up proving over the top as the season progresses. Is this the year the Bulldogs finally put it back together?
It never fails that when preseason lists come rolling out from various media outlets, there always are an abundance of G-W players honored and the consensus is that there is enough talent that the Bulldogs should contend for the Big South crown. And that appears to be the case again heading into this fall.
All discussion of G-W football for better or worse has to begin with head coach Steve Patton. After 13 seasons as head coach, Patton has built the program into his own image. But despite winning the first two ever Big South Championships, his Bulldogs haven’t had a winning record in the Big South over the past six seasons. Many G-W fans question whether he is the best man to be leading the program. But with a contract in place, G-W is no position to make a change barring a complete disaster.
Patrick Hall is one of the top running backs in the Big South heading into the 2010 season. In ’09, he rolled up 599 yards & 12 TDs while averaging 5.5 yards a carry. expect to see him carry the ball more this season now that there are questions at the quarterback position after the graduation of Stan Doolittle. Sophomore John Rock picked up some mop up duty last fall and is the only QB on the roster with any game experience. Whoever is throwing the ball will have a solid target in James Perry III. The junior receiver who generally goes by the name ‘Tre’ is coming off an ’09 season when he led the Bulldogs with 61 catches for 749 yards and 3 TDs.
Why am I posting a pic of this kid who looks like he could host a show on the Disney Channel or Nickelodeon? Because this is the only pic I could find of Marty Patterson and he is a flat out beast at linebacker for the Bulldogs. He is generally regarded as the top defensive player in the Big South heading into the 2010 season and he’s on a slew of All-American lists. And why not? He racked up 110 tackles last season in 11 games including 14 for loss. He added 5 sacks and picked off a pair of passes. And he has some solid help behind him with senior Bryce Nixon at corner.
Bottom line, G-Dub brings back enough to talent to be dangerous. This has the potential to be “that” game in the Big South that jumps up and bites us annually.
It has been two years since the Flames went down to Clinton, South Carolina and saw their visions of their 1st playoff berth slip away at the hands of Presbyterian. Its time for payback against the Blue Hose.
Of course it won’t be as much fun to take down the Hose now that Bobby Bentley is gone as head coach and the much less colorful Harold Nichols is in his place.
In his first season as head coach at his alma mater, he suffered through an 0-11 season. There is no glossing over that type of performance. Only twice all season did the Blue Hose manage to stay with 10 points of an opponent. The good news, if there could be any, is that Nichols was able to get a lot of young players some valuable game experience as he tries to build up a program that has clearly hit rock bottom.
Offensively the bright note for the Hose in ’09 was the surprising success of true freshman running back Lance Byrd. The 5′ 8″ speedster from Florida racked up 700 yards on the ground at a clip of 5.5 yards a carry. He figures to get even more opportunities as a sophomore this fall. With Tim Webb now gone, junior Brandon Miley will no longer have to split snaps at quarterback for PC. He threw for 1736 yards with 11 TDs & 16 INTs last season including a pair of TDs passes against LU in garbage time. His top returning receive is Patrick McKoy who hauled in 47 passes for 615 yards and 4 TDs in ’09.
Defensively the Hose gave up a whopping 40 points & 478 yards a game. So they will have to turn the corner quickly in the 2nd year of the Nichols era. Their top two tacklers are back for 2010. Junior cornerback Justin Bethel led the Hose with 79 tackles in 11 games this past season. And senior linebacker Derek Brown had a season-high 8 tackles against Liberty and will provide leadership upfront.
Prognosis for PC: Plenty more difficulty notching wins in 2010. Nichols appears to be building for longterm success. But you have to wonder how long the PC big shots will give him to run things around. Liberty should exact a great deal of revenge in Clinton.
On October 16th, the Flames head up Highway 501 to Lexington for their 1st Big South road game of the season at VMI.
No one would ever accuse VMI of soft scheduling for 2010. Of their five non-conference games, two are at FBS teams (UVa & Army) and their other road trips are to William & Mary (who begins the season generally ranked among the top 3 FCS teams in the nation) and fast rising ODU. That would be a steep challenge for any team. But for the Keydets it sets up to be a very long season.
Winning has not come easy for Sparky Woods in his two years at VMI. After a surprising 4-7 season in 2008 in his first year with the Keydets, 2009 was a disappointment across the board at 2-9 for the former Appalachian State & South Carolina head coach. There are no quick fixes at a school that essentially doesn’t accept FBS transfers and requires its student-athletes to be involved in a rigorous training regimen with their fellow classmates. Making it 2010 especially challenging is that the three offensive weapons that have carried VMI in recent years have graduated. Tim Maypray, Kyle Hughes & Howard Abegesah combined to contribute 62% of scoring last season and 74% of total yardage.
So it was time for a new plan and that meant Sparky would go back to his pro-style offensive roots this spring. He has three young inexperienced quarterbacks including a pair of redshirt freshmen battling to become the starter. Frankly it is tough to identify any key offensive contributors in light of all of the personnel and scheme changes.
Slotback Michael Rainey-Wiles is adding defensive back duties in order to get his athleticism on the field more often on both sides of the ball.
Defensively the Keydets bring back more personnel and they’ll need them after giving up over 400 yards a game last season. Their top four tacklers are back led by free safety Byron Allen who posted 93 tackles in 10 games. Obviously it is never a good sign when the guy furthest away from the line of scrimmage is far & away your leading tackler. Junior linebackers A.J. Gross (pictured above) & Emilio Calvin cover a lot of ground and Josh Wine is tough-nosed presence at defensive tackle.
Bottom line: The Keydets proved to be a challenge for nearly every opponent they faces last year including top-ranked Richmond. Outside of a 40-point beatdown by the Flames and an 18-point loss at JMU, the Keydets played with two scores of all comers. The change in offensive schemes will likely have a lengthy learning curve with so many new faces involved in the process. So I would not expect VMI to be able to hang with the Flames.
It should be noted that VMI has scheduled Parents Weekend for the Liberty game. So there should be close to a full house in what already is one of the coolest gameday atmospheres we ever face.
In front of what will likely be (barring bad weather) the largest home crowd in LU history, it should be an electric atmosphere. While the school formerly known as Baptist College of South Carolina would seem like a natural rival for the Flames, it never really has occurred. CSU seems to have a strongest rivalry with nearby Coastal Carolina. And it doesn’t help that we have beaten the Bucs 8 of the last 9 years usually by about 3 touchdowns. The lone loss to CSU came in 2005 in the 1-9 season that got Ken Karcher fired and even then we only lost 31-30 in Charleston. Interestingly enough, the Bucs were co-champs in the league the last time someone other than Liberty was involved in the championship.
The primary reason the Bucs have continued to show improvement despite major budget challenges and less than stellar facilities is head coach Jay Mills. Despite having to schedule money games like the one above in the Swamp last fall, he has managed to keep the program in the middle of the Big South pack with bailing wire & chewing gum during his seven seasons at CSU. That is a testament to Mills’ coaching ability which has led him to be a regular on lists of candidates for other FCS coaching gigs. In fact, he led the Bucs to a 4-game winning streak to close out the season last year all against Big South opponents … including an overtime victory over league co-champ Stony Brook. That’s something not even the Flames can brag about right now.
This season the Bucs’ money game is in Honolulu against the University of Hawaii. As glamorous as that might sound, road trips to face the Warriors typically have a tough impact on teams the following week due to the strenuous travel in addition to the FBS caliber of play which often leads to injuries for FCS teams. This impacts us because guess where the Bucs play the week after going to Hawaii … that’s right, Williams Stadium.
The unquestioned leader of the Bucs offense is quarterback A.J. Toscano. The former JUCO teammate of Doncel Bolt enters his senior season bringing a gritty toughness coming off a 2009 effort where he posted 2092 yards through the air in 11 games with 12 TDs & 12 INTs. He added 325 yards and 4 TDs on the ground to establish himself as one of the best field generals in the Big South. Former South Carolina Mr. Football Richard Mounce has transferred in from Clemson after burning out on baseball and he could be a player to watch down the road for the Bucs.
Toscano’s top weapon is receiver/running back Gerald Stevenson. As a junior in ’09, Stevenson led the Bucs with 55 catches for 724 yards and 3 TDs. He also is the top returning rusher with 364 yards and 3 TDs while averaging 7.0 yards per carry. He also handles most of the kick return opportunities.
On the other side of the ball, the leading returning tackler is senior linebacker Fred Godfrey. With 67 tackles in 11 games, he leads a defense that lost a number of key contributors. In the secondary, junior safety Chris Kuzdale (pictured above tackling Tim Tebow) is back after picking off a team-best 3 passes in ’09 while posting 64 tackles.
Much like Liberty, CSU feels very confident in their senior kicker John Paglia. In 2009, he connected on 16-of-22 field goals & 28-of-30 PATs. For anyone without the last name Bevins, those are very strong numbers.
In summary, the Bucs will be a very game opponent for most everyone in the Big South. I would expect them to be in the hunt along with Gardner-Webb, Coastal Carolina & Stony Brook as the primary challengers for the Big South crown outside of Lynchburg. But considering the jet lag the Bucs will likely be suffering from coming off their trip to Hawaii, it will be tough for CSU to knock off the Flames in front of possibly over 20-thousand LU fans.
The 2nd game of the season at renovated Williams Stadium is on October 2nd against a familiar foe, Savannah State.
Yeah, the Tigers could use a new logo as much as a winning season … something SSU has not enjoyed in its decade as a Division I program. The good news for SSU after years of wandering in the abyss of financial despair and FCS Independent status, the Tigers received their best news in years when the MEAC accepted them as provisional members in March of this year. SSU still needs to upgrade its scholarships, budget and staffing by next year to become a full member. But for a program that has seem massive turnover in coaches & players, this is a HUGE deal. Speaking of coaching turnover …
Before the Tigers received the great news from the MEAC, they had to cringe their way through a messy breakup with head coach Robby Wells. After 3 seasons, Wells states he was forced to resign. In his resignation letter, he made charges of reverse discrimination and the ensuing lawsuit brought the case to ESPN’s ‘Outside the Lines’.
The best I can tell right now, it appears last year’s defensive coordinator Julius Dixon remains the interim SSU head coach. You may remember him as the Presbyterian Defensive Coordinator in the Blue Hose’ 1st year at the Division I level under Bobby Bentley. But it should be noted that all of the official notes list the SSU head coaching position as vacant. So who knows what direction they might head this fall.
Kurvin Curry leads the Tigers offense. As a sophomore in 2009, he passed for 1278 yards with 12 TDs & 9 INTs. He also was team’s second leading rusher with 336 yards and 6 more TDs on the ground. Justin Babb is back for his senior season after piling up 804 yards & 6 TDs at an impressive 6.2 yards per carry. Babb is also the top returning receiver with 10 catches for 231 yards and 3 more TDs. Somebody will have to step up as a receiver for the Tigers to move the ball in 2010.
The Tigers were hit hard by graduation on the defensive side of the ball. The leading returning tackler is cornerback Edward Ndem with 56 in 9 games as well as an interception. It is tough to say much more about the defensive unit except that it was awful in 2009 and barring some newcomers contributing immediately it will be just as bad in 2010.
In a nutshell, this should be one of the patented poundings we have delivered on the Tigers in recent years. The only fear is that coming off the trip to Harrisonburg the week before, the Flames might be a little flat. But Coach Rocco doesn’t allow that to occur very often.
Outside of the trip to FBS opponent Ball State, the September 25th trip to James Madison in Harrisonburg is the marquee date on the 2010 Liberty Flames football schedule.
For some of us Liberty alumni from the ’80s, we remember when LU & JMU had a budding rivalry … at least from a Lynchburg point of view. The Flames secured their first ever victory over a Division I opponent against the Dukes in 1985. In fact between 1985-1992, LU defeated JMU in 5 of 7 meetings as the Flames made the transition from DII school to Division I-AA Independent. It would be 8 years before the Dukes would schedule the Flames once again in 2000 at the outset of the Ken Karcher era. That corresponded with the rise of JMU under Mickey Matthews and the dark period for Liberty. As a result, JMU took all five meetings between the two teams over the course of the past decade. The most recent coming in a torrential rain storm last fall.
It is really tough to judge what could be learned from last year’s showdown because of the weather conditions and the fact that the Dukes followed up their 24-10 victory over LU with four straight losses. Liberty came off the defeat and strung together six blowout victories. One thing no one will deny is that the Dukes have earned the respect of the Flames as the series heads north to Harrisonburg this fall.
Much like Williams Stadium in Lynchburg, JMU is giving its football facility a major facelift as well. Bridgeforth Stadium as seen in a recent pic above is in the midst of a several year renovation that will eventually lead to having a 40-thousand seat arena. In fact, the school has released an updated artist’s rendering of what the stadium will look like when it reaches completion.
Pretty sweet, eh? With plans like this it is obvious that much like LU, the folks running JMU have grander plans than staying in the FCS forever. Under just about every scenario being concocted that would see Liberty stepping up to FBS there is some type of partnership with schools like JMU involved. So this series of games between our two schools may be much more commonplace in the years to come.
All discussions of JMU football have to begin with head coach Mickey Matthews. The native Texan has built the Dukes into an FCS powerhouse in his 11 seasons as head coach. In 2004, he led the Dukes to the FCS National Championship. The title was all the more amazing when you consider that in the four years prior to their title run they had posted records of 6-5, 2-9, 5-7 & 6-6 generally finishing near the bottom of their conference standings. Since ’04, Matthews has improved recruiting and typically had the Dukes ranked Top Ten in FCS. And it hasn’t changed this season as the Dukes are ranked in all of the major preseason polls.
Offensively, quarterback Drew Dudzik sets the tone for the Dukes offense. He split time with smack-talking Justin Thorpe in ’09 against the Flames and throughout the season due to a foot injury. But he is now healthy and this spring he was declared the starter by Matthews for the 2010 season. He has the ability to create excitement through the air and with his feet as well. On the ground, Thorpe led the Dukes in rushing in ’09 with 654 yards & 5 TDs while averaging 4.4 yards a carry. With Dudzik now the unquestioned starter, his opportunities may be more limited this fall. The top returning running back is Jamal Sullivan who rushed for 451 yards and 4 TDs as a tailback. The top returning receiver is backup tailback Scott Noble who had 16 receptions for 235 yards and 1 TD in 2009. Obviously the Dukes will be looking for someone to step up as a receiver in 2010.
The good news on the defensive side of the ball for JMU from a Liberty perspective is that Arthur Moats is now a Buffalo Bill and can longer harass opposing QBs (11 sacks & 24.5 Tackles for Loss in ’09). But the Dukes have a ton coming back led by linebacker Pat Williams (87 Tackles including 8 for loss in ’09) & safety Jakarie Jackson (team-high 3 INTs in ’09). Truth be told, the Dukes had troubles shutting down conference opponents for much of last season. But as they showed in the monsoon in Lynchburg last fall, they can certainly make it difficult on even gifted players like Mike Brown.
Frankly I believe this may be the year the tide swings back to the Flames. JMU is not as invincible on their homefield as some might suspect. And with the construction and the fact that the Dukes will be coming off a bye week and a road trip to Virginia Tech two weeks before, there are plenty of distractions that could be to the Flames’ advantage. While I am far from guaranteeing an LU victory, I like Coach Rocco’s chances in Harrisonburg.
First off, we may need to clear up a few things about this school. First off, it is named after one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. The original Robert Morris was a financier who helped pay for the American effort in the Revolutionary War. As a result, the Pittsburgh School of Accountancy changed its name in 1962 to Robert Morris College to honor his legacy. Meanwhile a college in Chicago completely unrelated to the Pittsburgh school adopted the name Robert Morris College as well. The confusion didn’t stop after both stepped up to university status. But now their names are different … well, sort of. The school in Pittsburgh is Robert Morris University. The one in Chicago is Robert Morris University Illinois. Confused? Join the club. While RMU is a private institution, it has no religious ties. Incidentally the school in Chicago is starting up football in 2011. But that has nothing to do with us so I’ll try to move right along …
Every discussion of Robert Morris football has to begin with Joe Walton. He created the program from scratch in the Early ’90s and the stadium where we’ll face the Colonials is named after him as well. While he may not be a household name for most Liberty fans, he is a very well respected man in NFL circles. He spent eight seasons as a tight end between the Redskins & Giants. After retiring as a player in 1964, he spent four seasons as a scout for the Giants before joining the NFL coaching ranks for the next 24 seasons. In addition to seven seasons as head coach of the New York Jets, he also served as Offensive Coordinator for Redskins, Jets & Steelers.
Since he began the program in 1994, the Colonials have won five NEC championships and a pair of Mid-Major national crowns. They have been the unquestioned top program in the league since they joined and they once again are among the favorites in 2010.
The primary weapon in Coach Walton’s arsenal is senior running back Myles Russ. The 5′ 8″ speedster somehow found his way from sunny South Florida to the Steel City. And he is capable of putting up big numbers in a hurry. He averaged 5 yards a carry in 2009 posting 1059 in just 11 games.
The Colonials passing attack is guided by sophomore quarterback Jeff Sinclair. As a true freshman in 2009, he completed 53.8% of his passes posting 828 yards with 9 TDs & 6 INTs despite sharing duties with two other QBs. His big play receiver from last year is gone but he has a big target in TE Shadrae King who caught 34 passes in ’09 including 4 touchdown receptions.
Defensively you would expect a Pittsburgh area team to be tougher than nails at linebacker and that is the case with the Colonials. A pair of rising seniors put up Steeler-esque numbers in 2009 led by Alex DiMichele (pictured above) and Elias Navarro. DiMchele posted a team-best 109 tackles in 11 games including 8 for loss. He added 3 sacks, 2 INTs, forced a fumble and recovered four as well. Navarro added 97 tackles including 10.5 for loss. Oh yeah, in addition to a pair of sacks the ball-hawking ‘backer picked off 3 passes and recovered a fumble. In the secondary, another preseason all-NEC pick Rolf Bathold is a lockdown cornerback who intercepted 3 passes of his own in ’09 along with breaking up 12 others.
As is often the case when playing NEC teams, they have some quality talent on the field. But with limited scholarships, depth is a major concern. The Flames are a definite step up in scheduling for RMU. Other than VMI (whom they have lost to both times they’ve met in last 3 years) the Colonials have typically filled their schedule with non-scholarship fodder to help pad their win totals. With us likely heading to Western PA with a national ranking, we will be a marquee game for their players and fans. Bottom line, the Colonials are dangerous enough to surprise us if we completely lay an egg. But if we put on a typical Flames performance like we’ve seen the past few years under Coach Rocco, this should be another high-scoring victory.