KINGSTON, R.I. - Stony Brook football enters the Colonial Athletic Association era with what amounts to a baby step against Rhode Island (0-1), which has lost 14 straight games, at 1 p.m. Saturday at Meade Stadium. But coach Chuck Priore views it as an opportunity for the Seawolves, who rank 13th in the FCS coaches' poll, to set the tone for a schedule that gets tough in a hurry.
The URI game is the first of three straight road games, including next week at FBS opponent Buffalo and the following week at CAA favorite Villanova, before Stony Brook's Sept. 28 home opener against Towson.
"Being able to open positively and play well on the road is very important," Priore said. "Who you are at the end of the year is your ability to win games on the road and go into hostile environments. What's crucial for us is to not play the opponent but to see if we can put Stony Brook football in perspective for 2013, which is to play the game the way we've practiced it."
Coming off two straight seasons in which they reached the second round of the FCS playoffs, the Seawolves figure to follow the same successful formula with the running of Marcus Coker setting up the passing of new quarterback Lyle Negron. The defense has plenty of experience in the front seven, but cornerback Winston Longden is the only returning starter in the secondary.
The Rams rely on a running attack led by Robbie Delgado, who rushed for 113 yards in a 51-26 loss last week at Fordham, and preseason all-CAA linebacker Andrew Bose heads an experienced defense. SBU prepared for its opener with a 17-3 scrimmage win over Penn of the Ivy League.
"We have some talented athletes that can make plays,"Priore said. "I really liked our quarterback's performance from the standpoint of creating things."The transition from Big South power to CAA contender might be bumpyconsidering the early-season schedule. "It will be a good challenge," Priore said. "If we're successful on the road, then it sets us up to be home the last week of September against a good football team [Towson]."