VILLANOVA, Pa. - -- Stony Brook's opening shutout at Rhode Island was the appetizer, but now the Colonial Athletic Association gantlet begins in earnest with a visit to preseason favorite Villanova on Saturday at 3 p.m. The Seawolves (1-1, 1-0 CAA) scored a 20-10 victory over the Wildcats (0-2, 0-0) in the first round of the FCS playoffs last November, but that was a home game.
"Certainly, we're not cocky because we beat them," Stony Brook coach Chuck Priore said. "We have to play a good football game. It's an away game, and you've got to win your away games."
The Seawolves suffered a heartbreaking 26-23 loss at Buffalo in five overtimes a week ago. Even worse, they lost transfer cornerback Reuben Johnson for the season after he suffered a knee injury.
"He was playing unbelievable," Priore said. "We're going to miss a very good football player, and he was a leader, too."
Backup corner Ivan May also is out with a heel injury, so Priore will start redshirt freshman Jaheem Woods in Johnson's spot. Woods is joining a remodeled secondary that will be tested by Wildcats quarterback John Robertson, who was FCS freshman of the year last season. Stony Brook limited him to 135 passing yards and 85 yards rushing in the playoff game, but the Wildcats had the ball for only 20:28 in that game.
"We know the opponent very well," said strong safety Naim Cheeseboro, who played nickel back and on special teams in the playoff. "They don't really do too much. We just have to keep our eyes on our keys and do our job, and hopefully, we're going to come out with this victory."
As a native of nearby King of Prussia, Pa., who was lightly recruited by Villanova, this game is special to Cheeseboro.
"It's a homecoming for me," he said. "I'm 10 minutes away from Villanova. I'm going to have a lot of people out there -- right now, I'm up to 24 -- and I'm looking forward to it. It's a big one for me."
Cheeseboro made his reputation last season as a big hitter on special teams, and that has carried over to his new job. Along with free safety Christian Ricard and rover Max Martinez, Cheeseboro helps set the tone on defense.
"When things break down, he can find a way to make plays," Priore said of Cheeseboro. "That's the most important position on the field for us. Our leading tacklers should be him, the rover and the free safety. They've done a nice job."