Predicting a defensive struggle between William & Mary (3-1), which is ranked 12th and 13th in the FCS polls, and Stony Brook (1-3) in the Colonial Athletic Association opener for both Saturday at 6 p.m. at LaValle Stadium is a no-brainer.
The larger question for the Seawolves, who are No. 1 in total defense (199.3 yards) and No. 6 in scoring defense (12.0), is whether they will continue to struggle offensively after coach Chuck Priore settles on a regular starting quarterback.
Priore has given extended auditions to Syracuse senior transfer John Kinder and redshirt junior Conor Bednarski. But the Seawolves were held without a touchdown for the first time since Oct. 11, 2008, in Saturday's 13-3 loss at North Dakota, where five possessions ended in UND territory, including two red-zone turnovers by Kinder, one of which was returned for a touchdown.
"I've got enough film," Priore said. "I'm going to pick one, and they're not going to look over their shoulder.
"I need to pick the best quarterback for this program moving forward . . . The reality is that we don't have any quarterbacks with experience, and we're feeling the growing pains. But I'll have somebody on Saturday, and for the next eight games, he'll have some experience."
Leading rusher Stacey Bedell, who sat out the North Dakota game with a minor knee sprain, was limited in practice during the week but is expected to start. No matter who is at quarterback, it's clear tight end Will Tye needs to get the ball as much as possible. He had five receptions for 103 yards and returned five punts for another 56 yards at UND.
"It felt good," said Tye, who leads the Seawolves with 11 catches for an 18.5 average and one TD. "I'm ready to get the ball, and that can definitely open up the offense a lot more."
"He's in our plan every week," Priore said. "We were able to get the ball to him, and he was very productive once he got the ball. He broke a number of tackles. On punt returns, he did the same thing."
Tye said the Seawolves' offense has held together through the ordeal of picking a quarterback, and he's hoping for a breakout performance against a William & Mary defense led by all-CAA tackle Mike Reilly.
"They're pretty tough, but we practice against our defense and they're No. 1," Tye said. "This is Homecoming, and we can definitely break out. It'll be an exciting atmosphere, and we'll be ready to go."