Stony Brook University’s football team is in the running for its first postseason bid to the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs since joining the Colonial Athletic Association in 2013.
Precisely what it will take to earn a bid remains muddled amid five playoff contenders. Beating William & Mary on Saturday at LaValle Stadium certainly would help.
With three conference games left, Stony Brook is 6-2, 4-1 in the CAA. William & Mary is 3-5, 1-2. “We’ve definitely got to win at least two out of three,’’ wide receiver Tim Keith said. “Of course, we’re aiming for three. I see it as we win three, we control our own destiny . . . We’re planning on winning all three.’’
Keith, a graduate student who began his career at Western Michigan, caught his first collegiate touchdown pass last week in a 43-14 loss at New Hampshire. “It definitely was a great feeling, but I really wasn’t satisfied because it didn’t help us win the game,’’ Keith said. “It felt good to finally break the barrier, but I really wanted to win. My personal stats, I kind of overlooked that.’’
Keith has had an injury-plagued career. In 2012, he tore the ACL in his right knee while returning the opening kickoff in his first game at Western Michigan. He then tore the left ACL in the summer of 2015 at Stony Brook and missed last season.
“Obviously, the NCAA allowed him with two injured medicals to come back,’’ coach Chuck Priore said, “but he had to make a decision to do that. He was elected captain after being here for five months and did not play a game, so I think there’s a little bit of respect on the level of the kids for him. He fit in well.’’
Keith will graduate in December with a masters in liberal studies. He hopes there is plenty of football before then.
All of the Stony Brook receivers cherish their opportunities because in a run-oriented offense, their chances are minimal.
“Being a receiver, of course you want to catch the ball as much as possible,’’ said Keith, who has caught 15 passes for 221 yards. “Opportunities are limited at times. When you got the opportunities, you take advantage of them. You appreciate them more.’’
Priore said his offense mirrors the current college football landscape. “Certainly when you’re winning, it’s not an issue,’’ he said of keeping the receivers satisfied. ``You can take a look at college football. Everybody outside of the Big 12, everybody runs the football. Everybody. It doesn’t matter who it is. Everybody runs the football first and then mixes the pass game in. I think that’s college football right now. It doesn’t matter if you have four wide receivers on the field, they still run the football.’’
William & Mary has a strong running back in Kendell Anderson, who has rushed for 689 yards and five touchdowns. Quarterback Steve Cluley, operating behind a big offensive line, has passed for 1,518 yards and seven touchdowns. Stony Brook’s ground game is led by Stacey Bedell, who has rushed for 620 yards and 10 touchdowns.
After this week, Stony Brook hosts Maine and ends the conference schedule at rival Albany. Asked what it will take to get in the playoffs, Priore said, “Certainly you’ve got to win. I don’t know if there’s a mathematical figure.’’