Stony Brook University football coach Chuck Priore doesn’t like to hype situations. So when asked about Saturday’s must-win game at home against Maine, he merely said of his players, “I think they’re excited about playing.’’
There is no way to underplay the game’s importance to the Seawolves. Stony Brook and Maine both are 5-4, 4-2 in the Colonial Athletic Association. The loser of this game will be eliminated from postseason consideration in the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs.
After last week’s surprising 14-9 loss to William & Mary, Priore is in a fix-it mode and thinks postseason talk is premature.
“Sometimes you develop a lack of confidence, it’s contagious, everybody’s looking for somebody else and then you press,’’ he said. “When you press, it gets worse. The cure is to make sure everybody relaxes. Don’t put pressure on each other and just do their job and don’t try to create things. Let things come to you.
“Unfortunately, the kids read the stories about the playoffs. You lose last week and it’s a dramatic thing in their lives as opposed to just do what you gotta do. Now, is it a playoff game from the perspective that the loser doesn’t get to go to the playoffs? Yes, but guess what — we could win both games and not go to the playoffs.’’
Stony Brook will end the regular season next week at Albany. Maine will host New Hampshire.
Maine’s defense will go right after Stony Brook’s rushing game. Stacey Bedell has rushed for 678 yards and 10 touchdowns and Jordan Gowins has gained 404 yards and scored two touchdowns. “First of all, we have plenty of play-action passes in our repertoire,’’ Priore said. “We have a good defensive team. We’re going to do the things we need to do to be successful in the run game and we’re going to move the ball around the passing game. You put things together in your offense that complements your run game.’’
Stony Brook quarterback Joe Carbone suffered a shoulder injury last week and his availability will be a game-time decision. Pat Irwin is his backup.
The Seawolves will have to watch out for Maine quarterback Dan Collins, who has thrown for 14 touchdowns. “They’ve got a very good quarterback,’’ Priore said. “He’s playing very well. That’s probably the strength of their team. He’s been able to manage the games and be successful.’’
Former Longwood High school star Darius Greene, a defensive lineman, has an interception for Maine.
Stony Brook has displayed a knack for winning big games at home. “Hope so,’’ Priore said, “Gotta find the magic.’’