By Stone Freeman
Halfway through the season already. Woah. Anyone else feel like the weeks go by slow but the months fly by? Probably just me. Anyway, new week and a new menu. Rhode Island is ready for their third straight road game and look to get back on track after Saturday's loss at Virginia Tech. Lets roll.
Smile, everyone. It's free.
- After back-to-back nonconference tilts, Rhode Island returns to CAA play when the Rams head to Albany this weekend to battle the Albany Great Danes
- Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m. from Bob Ford Field in Albany on Saturday afternoon
- The game can be found on FloFootball.com
- Rhode Island comes into Saturday's game 1-5, 0-3 in CAA play
- Albany is 4-3, 2-1 in the CAA
- This is Rhode Island's first conference game since Saturday, September 28 when the Rams fell 31-27 vs. the Stony Brook Seawolves
- With the exception of November 2's matchup with Merrimack, the Rams will only play CAA competition the rest of the season
- The Great Danes have fared well against CAA opponents this season
- October 5's 23-20 loss at Richmond is their soul conference loss this season
- Albany is coming off their best win of the season, a 38-21 victory at No. 9 Towson
- Saturday's matchup will feature two of the top three passing quarterbacks in the CAA
- Rhode Island's Vito Priore leads the CAA with 333.8 passing yards per game
- Albany freshman quarterback Undercuffler is third in the conference with 268.7 passing yards per game
- The top four pass catchers in the CAA will be on the field on Saturday in Albany
- Both Rhode Island and Albany have one of the best and most experienced linebackers
- Senior Branyan Javier-Castillo leads the CAA with 63 total tackles and 10.5 tackles per game
- Albany's junior linebacker Levi Metheny is sixth in the CAA with 8.6 tackles per game
- The Rams and Great Danes have met each of the last six seasons since Albany joined the CAA in 2013 splitting the series 3-3
- Rhode Island has won each of the last two meetings against the Great Danes including a 45-26 win last season in Kingston
- Both Parker and Coulter had huge games in last season meeting combining for 18 receptions, 255 yards and two touchdowns
- Rhode Island's defense also showed in last year's meeting with six tackles for loss and four sacks
Rhode Island's special team's is engrained in team's identity
Rhode Island has a clear emphasis on all three phases of a football game. Special teams are just as important to the scouting reports, schemes and game plans as offensive and defensive play calling. Special teams are a tough business to get in to. Special teams is a metaphor for life. You mess up and you're replaceable. You do what you're supposed to do and your work gets unnoticed. But when you exceed the expectations you see how critical special teams are to team success.
We have seen some pretty crazy special teams plays and occurrences over the course of Jim Fleming's tenure in Kingston. Lost in the Rams heartbreaking loss to Stony Brook earlier this year was a special teams masterpiece. Rhode Island recovered an onside kick with less than two minutes left to go in the game. Ahmere Dorsey brought a kick return 99 yards back to the house. Overall, the third phase of the game showed up.
As I called that Stony Brook game with Rams safety Myles Ross (redshirting this season), he gave us some inside knowledge of how important special teams are to the Rams culture. Ross noted how the Rams practice onside kicks regularly and how hard of a worker Ahmere Dorsey is. I thought about this over the last couple weeks and figured the main course of this week's menu would be a good spot to highlight some of the areas that go unnoticed. Let's take a look at some of the key special teams members of Rhode Island football and how they impact the game.
Dorsey's 145.17 all purpose yards per game ranks 13th in the nation. He has the ability to flip the script of almost any game. His 99-yard return vs. Stony Brook was his fourth special teams score of his career at Rhode Island. This season he's returned 15 kicks. The second closest Ram in that category is Matt Pires with six. Dorsey also starts at wide receiver for Rhode Island. He essentially plays two-thirds of the game for Rhode Island and is a playmaker in every way.
Punting a football is a thing of beauty and red-shirt sophomore Davey Schaum-Bartocci has mastered it. He's fourth in the CAA with 37.7 yards per punt and opponents are averaging just 1.0 yard per return. Yeah, like one single yard. Schaum-Bartocci has taken the starting job and ran with it. He helps with field position, execution and has an absolute BOOT.
As a true freshman in 2017 Carrick had the game on his foot vs. Central Michigan. In double overtime Carrick missed a field goal that would have won it for URI. That was then, this is now. Carrick has become one of the best kickers in the history of the program. He's successfully completed 90.9 percent of his field goal attempts this year. One of his 10 made field goals this year was a career-long 44-yarder with seconds remaining to send Rhode Island's first conference game of the season to overtime vs. Delaware. He has become a model of consistency, scoring and talent. Special teams are a tough industry, but Carrick has proved his value.
I'll take a slice of … Joe DeLeone and Sean Anderson's FCS football podcast
You don't hear Joe DeLeone's name on a Rhode Island football broadcast unless he can't get his snaps down. You won't hear Sean Anderson's name either unless senior preseason All-American left tackle Kyle Murphy comes off the field. But make no mistake, these two are becoming household names for FCS football fans and it has nothing to do with their play on Saturdays.
When the final whistle blows Anderson's and DeLeone's games are just beginning. Both Rams are working toward careers in the sports media field. They currently host a biweekly FCS football podcast on the Bleav Podcast Network. Through this podcast they use their perspective as current FCS players to comment and discuss the best in the game. Being a student-athlete is time consuming as it is. But they use their unique platform to create content that stands out in a sports media world where everyone seems to have a podcast.
I've had classes with both Joe and Sean. I've been on the call of various URI sporting events with them over the last couple years working with the student-radio station on campus WRIU 90.3 FM. Despite this I never got to see how mush they truly care about their podcast and their work.
Last week I headed to Ranger Hall to get some footage of these guys recording their podcast for a potential package the ACC Network could use during Saturday's matchup vs. Virginia Tech. It was in this moment I saw the dedication and passion they have for their craft. Their notes were in depth and to the point. They chemistry was infectious. I could tell they spend a lot of time together prior to pressing record. They're committed, talented and above all else passionate about what they do.
If you don't know their names yet, you do now. Joe DeLeone and Sean Anderson are just scratching the surface.