Everyone knows Stony Brook coach Chuck Priore wants to run the ball down the throats of opposing defenses, and the Seawolves didn't deviate from that approach even against a Big East team such as Syracuse, which allowed 217 yards rushing to SBU last week. The surprising thing in that 28-17 loss was that Stony Brook wide receiver Kevin Norrell went deep against a big-time defense just as easily as he did against Central Connecticut State and Pace earlier this season.
Norrell scored the opening touchdown on a 63-yard bomb that forced the Orange to loosen up against the run. Although he has only seven catches, Norrell's average gain is 41.4 yards thanks to an 89-yard touchdown against CCSU and an 86-yarder against Pace.
His deep-strike dimension can't be ignored by Colgate (1-2) even as the Raiders worry about stopping the running of Miguel Maysonet and Marcus Coker in Stony Brook's Homecoming game at 6 p.m. Saturday at LaValle Stadium.
Describing Norrell's impact at Syracuse, Priore said, "They started the game off pressing us, and they saw us get behind them a few times and backed off. That shows the respect people have for our ability to stretch the field off the play-action pass, but we've got to be more consistent."
Colgate has a strong running game of its own, featuring Jordan McCord, who ranks sixth in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) with an average of 143.0 yards rushing per game. But the Raiders are undersized on defense and have allowed opponents 5.3 yards per carry. If they load up to stop the run against the Seawolves (2-1), they'll be vulnerable to the same kind of play-action fake quarterback Kyle Essington used to set up Norrell's touchdown at Syracuse.
"Once I got a clean release, I told myself, 'Don't stop running,' " Norrell said. "Kyle put it exactly where it needed to be, and all I had to do was just catch the ball and finish it . . . I wasn't surprised. I've played against guys like those."
Norrell, a Los Angeles native, had a successful freshman season at Washington State in the Pac-12 but later transferred to a California junior college, where he was discovered by Priore. He started slowly last season because of injuries, but during the past 11 games, he has 39 catches for 864 yards and seven touchdowns.
"The running game definitely gives me great opportunities when [the defense] loads the box up and it's one-on-one outside," Norrell said. "All you have to do is beat one person, and you're off to the races."
After such an emotional effort at Syracuse, the Seawolves must worry about a letdown. But Norrell said, "We've got to brush it off. If you're angry about last week, just come out here and get after Colgate."