The Stony Brook football team has its sights set on a program first on Saturday.
Riding a three-game winning streak, the Seawolves head into the weekend looking for what has proven to be an elusive first win against host William & Mary, the only Colonial Athletic Association team the Seawolves haven’t beaten, according to coach Chuck Priore.
In each of the last three seasons, William & Mary has used late-game efforts to put away Stony Brook. With Joe Carbone playing well under center and the defense leading the way, the roles could reverse.
“When the week started, we knew the history with William & Mary,” said Carbone, who set career highs with 22 completions and 242 passing yards in a 25-17 win over Towson last week. “It’s something we definitely know.
“The previous years what I’ve seen in those three losses really is just our inability to finish the games . . . We’ve just never really executed in the fourth quarter.”
Naturally, the focus this week in practice was execution. Working on the handful of plays that can impact the outcome of a game has been a focal point of Priore’s during the Seawolves’ 3-1 start, and he has remained confident but critical in challenging his offense to put forth a complete effort.
Stony Brook has struggled at times running the ball, averaging under four yards per carry in three of four games. An improved run game would help balance the offense against a William & Mary defense that ranks in the top 10 nationally, allowing 14.3 points per game.
This will be William & Mary’s first CAA game of the season, and the Tribe come off their bye week at 2-1.
“In our league, anybody can win — the home team or the away team,” Priore said. “Personnel matchups are pretty equal, so it’s going to come down to eliminating the mistakes. And every game comes down to field position, comes down to special teams.”
If the special teams unit can shorten the field for the Stony Brook offense, good things could happen. The Seawolves lead the CAA in red-zone success, scoring on 14 of 15 opportunities. They rank fourth in the conference with 30.5 points per game.
Much of the emphasis against William & Mary will be on run defense, as the Tribe have four runners, led by quarterback Tommy McKee (76), who have averaged at least 30 rushing yards per game.
The Seawolves defense has been successful in preventing long runs, holding each of its opponents under 3.5 yards per carry.
A sturdy defense and continued improvement from Carbone could reverse recent history and get the Seawolves into the win column against William & Mary.