Thursday, August 31, 2017

Can Stony Brook Challenge South Florida?

By Mel Suiter

It is not a new country music act or a new Hollywood sensation, this place is located in a small town located 60 miles from Manhattan and is home to the State of New York University System-Stony Brook.

This place is a respected institution for teaching teachers and they also play a little football, too, here at Stony Brook University.

Last season, the Seawolves slipped and fell to a 5-6 overall record and 4-4 in the Colonial Athletic Association that also is the home to last year's champion, James Madison University.

Entering his 12th season on the sidelines for the Seawolves, Chuck Priore says that he is ready for this season to finally get started.

Stony Brook University will make the road trip from the shores of Long Island to the sun and surf of Tampa, as the Seawolves open the season against the No. 19 University of South Florida inside Raymond James Stadium, beginning at 4 PM.

"From a program perspective, you want to be playing those types of games," Priore said about his team getting the chance to play an FBS school. "It gives an idea where we are as a program and it helps in recruiting."

Priore said that this is one his best experienced team coming into this season with plenty of veterans filling out the roster for the Seawolves and that is not to say that everything went with any problem during practice, but for the most part, it has been an uneventful summer because of the leadership on this team.

"Experience team, the best part is the leadership," Priore said. "Guys understand how to be prepared."

Priore will want his defense prepared and ready for a Bulls offense led by quarterback Quinton Flowers. Last week, the Bulls fought their way out of a 16-point deficit against San Jose State University and left the golden shores of California with a 42-22 victory.

Flowers threw for 212 yards and ran the ball for 70 yards; the Bulls' offense ran 101 plays from the line of scrimmage, which included a program-best 74 rushing plays that gained 315 yards.

Flowers was not alone in the backfield. He did get plenty of help from D'Ernest Johnson carrying the ball 22 times for 99 yards, scoring two touchdowns and Darius Tice helped the Bulls with a touchdown and running for 94 yards.

New defensive coordinator Bobby McIntyre and his defensive scheme will be put to the test against the Bulls, but Priore is confident that his defense will be ready to except the challenge that faces them this week.

"I think it is healthy to change and Bobby has different ideas, we will still run our core defense," Priore said. "The kids respect Bob and so do I, but in the end, players will have to make plays and we have to get them ready to make plays."

Playing at a cornerback position will be Tyrice Beverette. Last season, he led the Seawolves with 98 tackles and 4 interceptions. Playing an inside linebacker position will be Shayne Lawless; he was second on the team with 78 tackles.

Beverette and Lawless and the rest of their team mates better be in shape and ready to chase Flowers and the rest of his backfield partners.

Once again, the game should be determine by the old college football proverb and that is if you can control the line of scrimmage at the point of the attack, then the running game and the passing game should prevail.

Priore has been coaching football for a long time and he remembers the first FBS school that the Seawolves faced, a lopsided game where the Bulls scored 59 points, while only allowing 14 points back in September 2010.

Priore also knows that some strange things can happen out on the football field. For example, the Seawolves might catch the Bulls napping and overlooking Stony Brook University.

You want to make a football coach blush?

Just ask former USF football coach who now is the football coach at the University of Oregon, Willie Taggart, tell the story about his memorable opener against McNeese State University and watch how Taggart avoids that topic of conversation.

University of South Florida is 19-1 against their opponents in their home-openers. The only blemish is the lost against the Cowboys, a member of the FCS and the Southland Conference.

At home, the Bulls averaged 44.5 points per game and 515.7 yards of total offense. Like Priore said, the defense better be ready to step and make plays because if they don't, the night will be long and the game will feel like an eternity.

Stony Brook University and their coach will take the field Saturday night and will give all that they have, and according to Priore, that is all that is required. He says they will get off the bus and be there.

If the Seawolves can leave Tampa and Raymond James Stadium with a shocking victory against the No. 19 team in the nation, the University of South Florida, who knows, maybe a country song will be written and performed in Stony Brook and even become the toast of Broadway.

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