For Stony Brook, Saturday’s football game against Towson is all about the run.
“If you can run the football and defend the run, you’re normally going to be OK,” head coach Chuck Priore said of the upcoming CAA matchup.
The Seawolves (2-1) were downright dominant running the ball last Saturday against Sacred Heart. Their rushing unit combined for a total of 294 yards and two touchdowns on the ground in a 45-7 home rout.
Donald Liotine led the ground attack for Stony Brook with 84 yards on 11 carries. Jordan Gowins chipped in 79 yards and one touchdown on 17 attempts.
“It’s extremely important to establish the run,” Liotine said. “Towson’s very physical up front.”
While Liotine and Gowins will bring power to combat Towson’s physical defensive line, Stacey Bedell will provide balance with blurring speed at 5-9, 195.
“I don’t think there’s anyone faster than Bedell in our league,” said quarterback Joe Carbone, who completed 9 of 14 passes for 99 yards and three touchdowns last week.
Bedell’s wheels were on display against the Tigers on Oct. 8, 2016, as Stony Brook’s 13-point fourth quarter sparked a 27-20 comeback victory. He blazed for 125 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries.
Carbone, meanwhile, went 15-for-23 passing for 165 yards.
From a defensive perspective, the Seawolves limited Sacred Heart to 91 rushing yards on 39 attempts.
But Priore is primarily focused on one particular Towson back.
“They’ve got a great running back in Shane Simpson,” Priore said. “He’s a great kick returner and very explosive.”
At 5-9, 200 pounds, Simpson’s smaller frame makes him an elusive threat with big-play potential. He set a school record with 229 kickoff return yards last year’s season-opener against South Florida.
Priore said he believes forcing Towson (2-1) quarterback Ryan Stover to throw the ball consistently and generating a one-dimensional offense will be crucial toward Stony Brook’s success. Stover is currently the Tigers’ leading rusher this season with 116 yards on 30 carries.
The Seawolves hope to take advantage of the redshirt freshman’s lack of experience with two interceptions through only three career games, and add to their team total of five picks thus far.
Defensive backs Darin Peart and Travon Reid-Segure fortify the Stony Brook secondary with two interceptions apiece.
As far as their defense is concerned, Carbone noted through film study how the Tigers switched from their traditional zone scheme to a predominant man-to-man approach.
But that doesn’t incite any concern on his part.
“I trust our offense and our coaching staff,” Carbone said.
A coaching staff that’s locked in on the run.