Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Rhode Island Rams Football Preview

Quick personal plug - head over to to read this week's FCS roundtable.  There are some quality bloggers who follow FCS teams that provide material weekly.  This week's topic - the best rivalries within the conferences they follow.  And now, on to the rest of today's post.

A few years ago, a friend of mine had a college buddy staying with him here in Baltimore for a weekend visit.  One night before we hit the bars we were pre-gaming with beers and some DVD's of a TV show called "Family Guy."  At one point we were introduced to Ollie Williams for the Channel 4 weather report for Quahog, Rhode Island.  His classic, angry line "IT'S GON' RAIN!!!" was one of the best punchlines I've ever heard; I was in tears from laughing so hard. 

Several years have passed and I don't watch "Family Guy" on a weekly basis anymore, yet the show remains one of my favorite TV series ever.  The Griffin family and their friends have brought me countless hours of entertainment from their fictional home of Quahog.  Well, now I have another Rhode Island product to pay attention to, and it may be reason enough for me to trek up there on October 8 - the Rhode Island Rams football team.

Weather has never been delivered more succinctly.  Or angrily.

Football History
The Rams of Rhode Island have been playing football since 1895, compiling an all-time record of 385-546-45.  They have not had the same overall success that Delaware and UMass have had, winning only eight conference titles over time.  Still, they've produced more than 15 NFL players.  Rhode Island football plays their home games at Meade Stadium, which was built in 1928.  For a point of reference, ODU has existed since only 1930.  We have some catching up to do.

A view from above of Meade Stadium.

2010 Highlights
Similar to UMass' 2010 season, URI had a mediocre season in terms of results, finishing with a 5-6 (4-4) record.  And similar to our analysis of UMass' season, the Rams were better than their record indicates.  In two of their last three games, they upset #3 Villanova as well as #19 UMass.  There was talent on this team.  Get used to me saying that about every team we review.

The Rams scored just under 20 points per game last season.  Starting quarterback Steve Probst was the only CAA player with 1,800 passing yards and 600 rushing yards last season, actually leading the team in rushing yards.  Defensively URI was led by DL Victor Adesanya, who was the Rams' only All-CAA First Team player on offense or defense.  (Wil Kamin and Travis Hurd made First Team Kicker and Kick Returner, respectively.)  Adesanya and Company showed significant improvement in 2010, allowing only 24.4 PPG compared to 36.9 PPG in 2009.

The Rams' five wins were the program's most since 2001. (Photo credited to

History with Old Dominion
Blah blah blah, this will be the first meeting between the two schools in football.  Don't expect this matchup to develop into a rivalry, either; Rhode Island will be leaving CAA Football after 2012 to join the Northeast Conference in 2013 for football.  It's a little complicated but the short version is that it's getting too expensive for the Rams' administration for traveling purposes.  With ODU and Georgia State joining the CAA coinciding with UMass leaving, the Rams don't want to be part of the suddenly southern-centric conference.

I first remember Rhode Island athletics being relevant because of Lamar Odom.  Odom is married to one of the Kardashian sisters.  The only important Kardashian sister is Kim, because she's the only one who seems genuinely pretty even without makeup.  (Other than smiling seductively and looking pretty, what exactly does she do?)  You know what that means, right?  Gratuitous picture time!

Something something something, Kim Kardashian.  (How about that - another Family Guy reference!)
2011 Outlook
Eight of the Rams' primary starters on offense from 2010 return this season.  Probst was selected All-CAA Preseason First Team QB, so you know the coaches and SID's expect him to have another outstanding season.  Rising Junior Ayo Isijola led Ram running backs with 455 rushing yards, while Rising Senior Anthony Baskerville returns as the leading WR.

The returning defense is a different story.  While Adesanya is lost to graduation, the Rams return three other starters on the defensive line.  In addition to losing their best defensive player, all three starting LB's from last year are gone in 2011, one of whom (Matt Hansen) was All-CAA Second Team.  Two of the four defensive backs return.  It should also be noted that kick returner Hurd returns and was selected First Team KR in the preseason poll.

With an offense returning almost completely in tact, Probst has the firepower to guide the Rams back to at least five wins.  They'll win four conference games and take out Fordham and Brown in their OOC schedule, giving them six overall.

Of the three CAA opponents we've reviewed so far, Rhode Island represents the Monarchs' best chance for a victory to date.  Delaware is too strong in all phases of the game, and UMass' defense might be too improved to get a win.  However, the Monarchs should be able to run against a team that must replace three starting linebackers and two starting defensive backs.  Nevertheless, that does not mean that URI is an automatic win.  It's too soon to make a concrete prediction, but I'm leaning towards selecting ODU's first CAA victim to be the Rams. 

But we've got eight weeks before the game, giving me plenty of time to brush up on my Family Guy trivia.  The question is whether I'll make the trip to URI for the game, or take it easy and stay local for Towson v Richmond.

You can't have pie without cool Hwip!

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