Eight thoughts following Delaware’s 43-28 win against Richmond

Danny Rocco @ Richmond
Courtesy of Delaware Athletics
Head coach Danny Rocco claimed his 100th career victory Saturday afternoon when the Blue Hens defeated the Richmond Spiders 43-28.

Executive Editor

Delaware football defeated Richmond 43-28 to earn their first conference win of the season and Head Coach Danny Rocco’s 100th career win. The Blue Hens forced six turnovers, which they turned into 24 points, and posted a season-high 331 passing yards en route to their first road win of 2018.

Here are 8 observations following the game:

Explosive Plays
Delaware had six completions of more than 20 yards, five of which led to scores. Delaware only recorded one such play in their 38-10 loss against North Dakota State. Teams have stacked the box against the Blue Hens to defend the run and have challenged Delaware to throw downfield. In their wins, they’ve taken advantage, completing a combined seven passes for more than 20 yards against Lafayette and Cornell.

Joe Walker is the team’s most explosive threat. Walker made a 43-yard reception in the first quarter and flipped the field in the third quarter with a 70-yard catch from the Blue Hens 6-yard line. He also completed his first pass attempt of the season, finding Jamie Jarmon for 46 yards on a trick play. In the loss at NDSU, Walker caught one pass for four yards. The more he can be involved moving forward, the better.

Give me that
With five interceptions and a fumble recovery, Delaware doubled their takeaway total for the season. The mark entering the game tied Delaware for second-fewest in the CAA.

The six turnovers led to 24 points for the Blue Hens and allowed Delaware to steal the momentum on the road early.

Delaware’s plus-11 turnover margin in 2017 (26 takeaways overall) ranked 15th nationally. Giving the offense short fields will help make up for shortcomings in the run game and the occasional deficiencies of the team’s aerial attack.

Slow day on the ground
The turnovers and explosive plays covered up another poor performance on the ground by the Blue Hens. Delaware entered the game averaging 3.2 yards per carry. Against Richmond, they averaged 2.4 yards per carry with the longest run of the day being a 13-yard scamper by Kani Kane.

This season’s averages come in stark contrast to the success of the running game in the past few seasons. Delaware has ranked second in the CAA in rushing in each of the past three seasons. In two of those seasons, they averaged over 200 yards per game on the ground.

The Blue Hens have done it with a revolving door at running back. If today is any indication, the door might swing again.

Changing of the guard
Dejoun Lee took the first carry for the Blue Hens and led the team in carries and rushing yards with 17 attempts for 64 yards. Kani Kane, Delaware’s starter in the first four games of the season, carried 12 times for 35 yards. Kane reached the end zone twice.

Lee provided a spark against Lafayette, rushing for 93 yards on 11 first-half carries, but has been utilized sparingly since. Compared to Kane, Lee is the shiftier and quicker option.

If Lee takes over as the lead back, Kane may be relegated to the role he first managed for the Blue Hens: the goal line bruiser. He scored three touchdowns on five carries against Cornell last season in his first true game action last season, before taking a larger role in the following games against James Madison and Stony Brook.

Odds are Rocco still wants both backs, and sophomore Khory Spruill, involved.

Mr. Consistency
Troy Reeder was in the middle of the action all afternoon, registering 12 tackles (eight solo). The potential NFL draftee has been among Delaware’s top three leading tacklers in every game this season. Against Richmond, Reeder became the 48th player in school history with 200 career tackles.

Holes in the secondary
Nijuel Hill recorded Delaware’s third interception, but that was about it for the redshirt sophmore cornerback’s highlight reel. Richmond quarterback Joe Mancuso targeted Hill deep repeatedly to great success. Hill yielded Richmond’s first touchdown, an 80-yard touchdown catch by Tyler Wilkins. Hill made contact with Wilkins and fell down, leaving the receiver wide open on a fly route down the sideline.

Later in the second half, Cortrelle Simpson caught touchdowns of 57 yards and 37 yards with Hill in coverage. Hill was in decent position on the second play, but Mancuso dropped a dime.

Delaware allowed a season-high 489 passing yards. Next week’s opponent, the Elon Phoenix, love to run the football, but 2017 CAA Offensive Rookie of the Year quarterback Davis Cheek is good enough to take advantage.

That being said, Richmond was extremely aggressive down the field, especially once they fell behind by more than 20. They moved the ball, but at the cost of six turnovers, Delaware’s secondary still came out on top. Delaware should work on getting Hill more safety help.

Nasir Adderley is good at football
Are you kidding me?

It wasn’t quite the Odell-esque interception he made against Towson last season, but it’s still very impressive. There is a reason NFL scouts are showing up at Delaware games. Adderley intercepted two passes in this game, his second and third picks of the season.

Brace yourselves
The Elon Phoenix come to town for the first time since 2014 next Saturday on Parents and Family Weekend. The Phoenix, already ranked inside the top 10 on multiple national polls, pulled off perhaps their greatest regular-season win in program history, going on the road to defeat No. 2 James Madison 27-24.

JMU had won a CAA-record 20 consecutive conference games (22 if you count the postseason) and had won an FCS-best 19 straight home games.

The Phoenix will be ranked inside the top 10 and perhaps the top 5 heading into the game in Newark, and the Blue Hens might eke their way into the bottom of the rankings to make it a matchup of top 25 teams. Even if they don’t, it will be an exciting game with CAA implications aplenty.

Last season, Elon made the FCS playoffs for the first time since joining the CAA. In Head Coach Curt Cignetti’s second season, they’ve already done what no team has been able to do since 2015. They’ll be hungry for more against Delaware.

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