Mondays usually are heavy work days for Stony Brook's football team, but after a 23-10 loss at Maine that was the Seawolves' fourth straight defeat in Colonial Athletic Association play, coach Chuck Priore changed things up.
"We met on Monday, discussed where we're at, watched film of the Maine game and put that out of the way," Priore said Thursday. "That was just to get away from that game a little bit more. I didn't want to go on the field Monday with a hangover. It gave them a day to hear what I had to say and let it sink in and come back on Tuesday."
Priore's message to his team was that things weren't as good as they seemed after an upset of New Hampshire in their CAA opener and that they're not as bad as it felt after the Maine loss. "You love playing football," Priore said. "Get back on the field and play football."
Unfortunately, Priore's message was accompanied by news that freshman tailback Isaiah White is out for the season with a foot injury that will require surgery, meaning the Seawolves (2-4, 1-4 CAA) have lost their top two running backs this season, including Stacey Bedell. So they will rely more heavily than ever on a defense that has played well all season when they face Elon (2-5, 1-3) on Saturday afternoon at LaValle Stadium.
In Stony Brook's past two losses to Towson and Maine, the defense has given up an average of only 233 yards total offense and 15.0 points per game and has forced three turnovers. The problem is that Towson and Maine each scored on a fumble return, and that the Seawolves' offense averaged 197.5 yards per game and 12.0 points, committing five turnovers.
Two other SBU fumbles at Maine set up a 31-yard TD drive and a 4-yard field-goal drive. Playing on such a short field left the defense with little margin for error, but safety Naim Cheeseboro said, "That's why we play defense. We've got to come out and do our jobs. We try to give our offense the ball as best we can."
Cheeseboro faulted himself for letting a potential pick-6 go through his hands on Maine's first offensive play from its own 5-yard line. "It was too good to be true," Cheeseboro said with a smile. "I wasn't concentrating enough. Hopefully, I'm going to get that one back this week."
Elon has a win over Towson, but the Phoenix also is averaging only 10.86 points per game this season. So there is an opportunity for Stony Brook to turn things around.
"In the locker room, we all still have a positive attitude," Cheeseboro said. "This week, we've got to come out fast like we always do, but we've got to stay fast for four quarters. We've got to finish."