Delaware football gears up for CAA play

UD vs. Cornell 9/15/18 - Louis Mason
Louis Mason/THE REVIEW
Delaware goes into CAA play 0-1.

Managing Sports Editor

Starting Saturday Oct. 6, the Blue Hens will begin their CAA conquest with seven straight conference games.

Delaware started their season off with a CAA game against Rhode Island, which they hadn’t done since 2007 when they played William and Mary. The Blue Hens fell to the Rhode Island Rams 21-19, making these next seven games crucial.

Delaware can only afford one more CAA loss to earn a basically guaranteed a spot playoff spot. Since the FCS playoffs moved to their current format in 2013, no CAA team with eight wins overall and six wins in CAA play has been left out. If they rack up more than two losses, their fate will be in the hands of the Simple Rating System and the playoff committee — which burned the Hens last season, when they lost two of their final four conference games.

Last year the Blue Hens went 5-3 in CAA play, just barely missing the playoffs after a heartbreaking 28-7 loss to Villanova to wrap up their season.

Delaware, ranked No. 8 in the CAA, will start this stretch against the No. 11 Richmond Spiders who they beat 42-35 last season. Richmond also has a special connection to Delaware as it’s the program Head Coach Danny Rocco came to Delaware from.

The Blue Hens had an open date this past week, but prior to that, faced a 38-10 loss to North Dakota State — a team further out of their typical level of competition. Although a goal of the Blue Hens should always be to compete with teams of North Dakota State’s caliber, who has won six out of the last seven national championships, their focus now needs to shift to the teams they know they can, and possibly even should, beat.

Delaware isn’t in unfamiliar territory.

Last season, Delaware was exactly where they are now, 2-2 overall and 0-1 in the CAA. The Blue Hens have proven they can pull off wins in these high pressure CAA games. They defeated major conference teams in close games like Stony Brook (24-20) and Richmond (42-35).

However, they can’t afford losses where they had them last year. Last season, the Hens lost at Towson 18-17, but this year they get to face the Tigers on their home field.

Towson, Richmond, Stony Brook and Villanova (four out of their seven CAA games) could pose the biggest threats to Delaware. While the Blue Hens could afford a loss to one of those four teams, Delaware will have to give one hundred percent of their fight in order to not let more than one of those games get away from them.

Their conference loss against Rhode Island put some added pressure on Delaware’s season, forcing them to go into CAA play with one strike against them already. However, the Blue Hens are no stranger to close calls and comebacks and with their eyes on playoffs — anything is possible with this team.

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