Stony Brook University’s football team is on the verge of cracking the top 20 in the FCS poll and continued success in their Colonial Athletic Association schedule will yield a postseason berth. Still, coach Chuck Priore is considering some tinkering.
The Seawolves play at Delaware Saturday. The Blue Hens have faltered in recent years and made a coaching change this week by replacing Dave Brock, a former associate coach at Hofstra, with co-defensive coordinator Dennis Dottin-Carter on an interim basis. Brock’s career record was 19-22, including 2-4 this season.
Priore doesn’t know what the coaching change may mean in terms of the approach Delaware will take. Priore is pondering a change after senior placekicker Przemyslaw Popek missed two field goals in last Saturday’s 14-3 victory over Rhode Island.
Stony Brook (4-2, 3-0 CAA) was trailing URI 3-0 until the fourth quarter, when Stacey Bedell and Jordan Gowins scored touchdowns. Popek had missed field goals of 39 and 38 yards.
“First of all if we would have protected him better, we would have had a chance to make them, it doesn’t ever fall only on the kicker,’’ Prioe said. “So the protection was a breakdown.’’
But Priore did not completely absolve Popek, who is 12-for-22 in field-goal attempts in his career. “He needs to have confidence,’’ Priore said. “I think my biggest problem was not the second block, it was more of his approach when he was leaving the sidelines,’’ before the attempt. “If you fumble you have to take the ball the next time and not worry about it. Same if you throw an interception. You have to have a short memory when you’re in those positions, so that was the conversation.
“He’s going to kick our extra points, he’s only missed one in his career. I think when it comes to field goals we got a redshirt freshman [Alex Lucansky] who does our kickoffs that we’re probably going to make a decision at game time.’’
Popek made no excuses. “It’s definitely disappointing when you missed two field goals especially when they get blocked,’’ he said. “You never want to get it blocked. I’d rather miss it than get it blocked. The snap and everything was perfect, the whole operation was perfect, someone got through and it happens. Second one, the same thing. The snap was perfect, the whole thing was perfect except somebody got through and they just got a hand on it.
“You have to trust your practice you can’t be changing anything week-to-week you got to believe in what you’re doing and get it done. My teammates got my back. We’re one family. I feel like everyone trusts me, you just got to keep moving forward, you can’t think about these things.
“It’s always good to get a win, especially on homecoming, but you know you always want to perform you never want to underperform to your abilities.’’
Popek said the coaching change at Delaware would not alter Stony Brook’s game plan. “We take every game like it’s a battle,’’ he said. “We don’t look at who we’re playing. We just concentrate on doing our job and that’s our mentality going week in and week out.’’
Priore said it is difficult to figure out the mindset of the Delaware players. “I could say it could go either way depending on why the change was made and what was going on in the program,’’ he said. “This is the same coaching staff minus one. If the head coach was well-liked, he recruited all these kids then they can go either way. They can say we want to prove that they were wrong or they could see this [change] blamed on them. So it can go a lot of ways.’’
Delaware likes to run the ball and has averaged 270 yards on the ground. Wes Hills leads the offense with 533 yards and five touchdowns.