Even after a loss in the opening week of the season, Stony Brook football coach Chuck Priore insists that there are “positive vibes” in the locker room and on the practice field leading up to Saturday’s road game against Colonial Athletic Association rival Rhode Island at 1 p.m.
The Seawolves may have lost to then-No. 19 South Florida, 31-17, last Saturday, but Stony Brook and USF were tied at 17 with just over 13 minutes to go after Stacy Bedell swept to the left side for a 54-yard touchdown.
The Bulls overcame a slow start to pull away in the final quarter, but the Seawolves proved to the country and themselves that they have what it takes to compete against top programs.
“I think they understand that we certainly went down there and played well enough, but we didn’t play well enough to win,” Priore said. “We certainly competed and played hard. But winning is why we went down there.”
USF, which dropped two spots in the AP Poll to No. 21 after paying Stony Brook $425,000 to play the game and nearly losing to SBU, could prove to be the Seawolves’ toughest test this season.
Rhode Island, which lost to Central Michigan in triple overtime, 30-27, showed its mettle when Tyler Harris tossed two fourth-quarter touchdown passes to bring the Rams back from a 21-7 deficit and force overtime.
Stony Brook will have to keep Harris and the passing attack in check, which it did against USF’s Quinton Flowers, holding him to 186 yards and 19 completions in 32 attempts. Secondary play will be crucial in supporting a run defense that allowed only 3.1 yards per carry last week.
Priore said linebacker Shayne Lawless and safety Chris Cooper had “tremendous games” and that the caliber of defense displayed can win games.
The offense needs to improve, though. Joe Carbone averaged only four yards per completion and the Seawolves managed just 2.6 yards per carry, a number inflated by Bedell’s 54-yard scamper. But that came against a nationally ranked team’s defense.
Rhode Island allowed 499 total yards (246 on the ground) last week.
Said Priore, “As an overall group, we just have to be a little more consistent.”