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Stony Brook's big plans start with offensive line

Kyle Nunez of Stony Brook's offensive line drop

Kyle Nunez of Stony Brook's offensive line drop back to pass block during the annual Spring Game at LaValle Stadium in Stony Brook on April 27, 2019. Credit: Daniel De Mato

Stony Brook is fortunate that its starting offensive line for the coming football season averages 320 pounds. The Seawolves don’t plan to get pushed around in what looks like a gantlet of a six-game Colonial Athletic Association schedule.

Stony Brook hosts No. 5 Villanova on Saturday at LaValle Stadium. Still ahead on the slate: current No. 13 Albany, No. 14 New Hampshire and No. 25 Delaware.

"I think we’re going to be pretty good there," head coach Chuck Priore said of the quintet of tackles Cam Lucas and Justin Morgan, guards Cole Gambino and Kyle Nunez and center Anthony Catapano on Monday’s CAA conference call. "That’s going to be a strength."

Calling the signals behind that line will be Tyquell Fields, who threw for 2,471 yards and 16 touchdowns against 11 interceptions in 2019 and rushed for four more scores. Priore said that in assessing his season, Fields saw that he could be more efficient and make better decisions. As a result, through all the practices in the fall and then the winter, he’s had only one throw picked off "and we’re pretty excited about that growth," Priore said.

Among Fields’ primary receivers will be a pair of transfers: Khalil Newton from Ball State and Malik Love from New Hampshire. Love averaged 15.2 yards per reception for the Cardinals. Love had 48 catches for 542 yards in 2019 with the Wildcats. Priore described each as an "elite player."

Ty Son Lawton, who had three 100-yard rushing games and scored seven touchdowns, moves from a backup role to the featured running back.

The Seawolves’ defense has a few standouts, as well. It returns the top two tacklers from 2019: Augie Contressa and Reidgee Dimanche and may have an NFL prospect in 6-2, 275-pound defensive tackle Sam Kamara.

"Our defensive team, we struggled last year a little bit when we had a few injuries and with some [other] things," Priore said. "I think we’re much improved defensively, I think we’re back to being where we had been prior to last year, statistically and physically."

What is nothing like last season is this season and the modifications because of the COVID-19 pandemic. To cut travel, the CAA is divided into two regional divisions.

Stony Brook is in the seven-team North division and will play the other six once.

In the four-team South division, the teams play each other twice. The conference title and accompanying NCAA bid goes to the team with the best conference record. And there are tiebreakers if the division leaders have the same record.

The NCAA has also cut the tournament from 24 teams to 16, which means there are only five at-large bids. The CAA will be fortunate to have two representatives.

"I don’t know who’s out there and how they’re going to do it," Priore said. "It’s a strange year . . . There’s one guaranteed team out of the CAA and that’s whoever wins the league. After that, we’ll probably all beat each other up as we usually do."

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