The Stony Brook football team isn’t too concerned about outside perspective.
The Seawolves were predicted to finish 10th of 12 teams in the Colonial Athletic Association this season. But the student-athletes are used to being underestimated.
"We’re a group that’s been doubted for a while," offensive lineman Kyle Nunez said. "When we put it all together, you really have to watch out for us."
Nunez, a redshirt senior from East Islip, will be one of the key contributors in the Seawolves’ quest to shock the conference. The 6-2, 340-pound lineman was a STATS FCS second-team All-American last spring and is a preseason third-team selection this fall. He leads a strong offensive line, which includes Cameron Lucas and Anthony Catapano from Franklin Square.
"We’re dangerous in the sense that we are going to come out and play smashmouth football regardless of our opponent," Nunez said. "We don’t play down to a level and we’ll always play up to whoever is playing us. I think when we come out here, we are going to set the tone with stopping the run, running the football and we are going to shock some people through the air, as well."
Stony Brook finished 1-3 in a modified spring season after the CAA voted to suspend fall sports in 2020. The Seawolves had six games scheduled, but their final two contests were canceled because their opponents had COVID-19 outbreaks.
But this season, Stony Brook has a traditional 11-game schedule, including a matchup at nationally ranked Oregon on Sept. 18. The Seawolves open at home against New Hampshire on Thursday at 6 p.m.
"Finally we are back to what’s normal, back to a regular season, a regular camp going into a regular 11-game season," linebacker Reidgee Dimanche said. "It’s way better than the past year and a half that we missed and were only able to play four games."
Coach Chuck Priore said the team is "operating as a program with caution and health and safety." They social distance during meetings and wear masks indoors.
The CAA announced any team which cancels a game because of COVID-related circumstances and can’t reschedule within 24 hours will forfeit, and the Seawolves don’t want that.
Stony Brook returns quarterback Tyquell Fields, who has started all 16 games the past two seasons. Fields completed 41 of 81 passes for 400 yards, two touchdowns and an interception, and rushed for 87 yards and two touchdowns in four games last spring.
The graduate student said he spent the offseason working on his drop back, accuracy and footwork. He has been utilized as a run-pass option quarterback, but Fields wants to improve his throwing.
"I feel like this offseason had to do with a lot of learning," he said. "We installed some new things, a new look a little bit, so I think we put an exclamation mark on learning."
Stony Brook returns its leading rusher in Ty Son Lawton, who had 268 yards on 56 carries (4.8 yards per rush) and three touchdowns last year.
"On the field, I think we’re fairly balanced on offense," Priore said. "I think we can bang you and have enough people and I think we can spread you out and move the ball. Defensively, we’re probably a little more inexperienced than the offense, but I think we’re athletic defensively."
ABOUT STONY BROOK
Coach: Chuck Priore, 16th season, 90-76 overall at Stony Brook.
2020: (1-3, T-5 East, T-8 overall)
On offense: Tyquell Fields, QB, graduate student, started all 16 games the past two seasons and has appeared in 30 games.
Ty Son Lawson, RB, RS-Jr.: The featured back in an offense looking to run the football.
On defense: Casey Williams, DL, RS-Sr. started all 16 games the past two years. He also appeared in all 12 games in 2018 and has 102 tackles, including 15 for loss, and eight sacks.
Reidgee Dimanche, LB, RS-Sr.: Started all 12 games in 2019, leading the team with 10.5 tackles for loss. His 87 tackles ranked second on the team.
Sept. 2 New Hampshire, 6 p.m.
Sept. 11 at Colgate, 1 p.m.
Sept. 18 at Oregon, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 25 Fordham, 3:30 p.m
Oct. 2 at Rhode Island, noon
Oct. 9 at Towson, 4 p.m.
Oct. 16 Delaware, 3:30 p.m.
Oct. 23 Richmond, 3:30 p.m.
Nov. 6 at Maine, noon
Nov. 13 at Villanova, 1 p.m.
Nov. 20 Albany, 1 p.m.