Surveying the ruins of Stony Brook's offensive collapse in its season-opening 13-7 loss to Bryant, one offensive statistic offers reason for the Seawolves to take heart -- sophomore running back Stacey Bedell's 116-yard rushing performance on 27 hard-nosed carries.
The former Floyd High star who transferred from Massachusetts showed he can be a go-to guy even in a game in which Bryant created confusion by altering its usual defense and Stony Brook was breaking in untested transfer quarterback John Kinder and redshirt freshmen offensive linemen Timon Parris and Armani Garrick.
"I think we have a lot of talent on offense,'' Bedell said. "We just have to improve from our mental mistakes and everything we messed up on, including myself. I was slipping. I feel like I can get my footwork better and some of my pass-blocking.
"It feels great to be here. I like running the ball. That's what I came here for. I'm glad to be a part of something like this.''
Bedell showed early flashes of his ability as a freshman at UMass, rushing for 70 yards against Wisconsin, 58 against Maine and 81 against Kansas State in the first three games. But he was slowed by an ankle injury in the fourth game against Vanderbilt and played sparingly the rest of the way for the 1-11 Minutemen.
"People underestimated me because of my [185-pound] size,'' Bedell said, "but I showed I could run between the tackles and play against top-level competition.''
A speedster in the open field, Bedell mostly ran inside against Bryant. But Kinder struggled in the passing game in his first start after four years on the bench at Syracuse, and inexperience on the offensive line contributed to breakdowns.
"It was a lot for us to adjust to because they were giving us a lot of different looks that we weren't prepared for,'' Bedell said of Bryant. "They kept stacking the box to stop the run. In order for [run lanes] to open, we've got to get our passing game going because every team we play is going to stack the box on us.
"The freshmen offensive linemen were probably nervous in their first college game in front of a huge crowd. Then John, it was his first game starting, too. He has to adjust to the game speed. I feel like next week, he should bounce back and be a lot better.''
That would be against Connecticut, which is coming off a 35-10 loss to BYU, but as the only FBS opponent on the Seawolves' schedule, the Huskies will be tough. On the plus side for Stony Brook, after a one-game suspension for violating team rules, senior running back Marcus Coker will return to the lineup as the starter to form a powerful 1-2 punch with Bedell.
"Me and Marcus became very close friends because he was my roommate in summer camp,'' Bedell said. "He's a very cool guy. I can't wait for him to get back on the field. I like having to rotate with a guy because it gives a team a different look from a power guy to a speed perspective. That will open up more lanes.''
That's the plan, anyway.