James Madison Coach Mickey Matthews is dusting off old game films this week in preparing for Hofstra's high-octane passing attack in Saturday's game in Harrisonburg, Va. Matthews, a former defensive coordinator at the University of Georgia, faced similar passing games when the Bulldogs played Steve Spurrier's Florida teams.
"We'll have to pull out some old game plans," Matthews said. "I'm having to pull out some anti-Spurrier stuff."
The Pride's passing attack has been as potent as some of Spurrier's best offenses at Florida. Hofstra (2-1, 1-0 Atlantic 10) is ranked No. 1 nationally in passing in Division I-AA, averaging 453.3 passing yards per game. Pride quarterback Bobby Seck has thrown for 1,284 yards and 13 touchdowns with only two interceptions in three games. In Hofstra's 62-43 win over previously unbeaten Rhode Island last week, Seck tied an Atlantic 10 record with eight touchdown passes and his 560 passing yards were second-most in conference history.
"They totally blew Rhode Island out of the stadium," Matthews said. "We've got to put a lot of pressure on their quarterback. No one can get pressure on them because their offensive line is so good."
The Dukes (2-1, 1-0 Atlantic 10), ranked No. 25 in the Sports Network Division I-AA poll, are fourth nationally in total defense, but their secondary hasn't been tested during the first three games. In James Madison's 17-0 upset of then-No. 5 Villanova on Sept. 18, the Dukes held the Wildcats to only 91 yards, including minus-2 rushing yards.
James Madison's offense, led by former Louisville quarterback Justin Rascati, could have success against Hofstra's defense, which is ranked No. 107 nationally, allowing nearly 450 yards per game.
Howard Back to .500
Two weeks ago, Howard's football team seemed to be on the verge of collapsing. The Bison had lost their first two games against Alabama State and Hampton and were preparing to play Alcorn State in the Sept. 18 Prince George's County Classic. But Howard ended the Braves' seven-game winning streak with a 17-10 upset at FedEx Field, and then the Bison blasted Savannah State, 53-7, in their first home game last week.
So now the Bison enter their final nonconference game against Charleston Southern on Oct. 9 riding some much-needed momentum. After hosting the Buccaneers, Howard closes the season with six consecutive Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference games.
"It's a great feeling for us," Howard Coach Ray Petty said. "We played three pretty good teams to start the season. We have confidence going into the off week and believe in what we're doing."
Georgetown is off to an 0-2 start in the Patriot League, and there isn't much mystery as to why the Hoyas (1-2) are struggling. Under new offensive coordinator Elliot Uzelac, Georgetown ranks last in the conference in scoring (12.2 points per game), passing offense (60.8 yards per game) and total offense (191.5 yards per game). Georgetown's quarterbacks have thrown six interceptions and only one touchdown, and the Hoyas have converted 11 of 55 third downs (20 percent).
It won't get much easier for the Hoyas in Saturday's home game against Bucknell (2-1), which is allowing only 14 points per game. On offense, the Bison have run the ball 58 times and thrown only 28 passes. In last week's 42-13 win over Columbia, Bucknell threw five passes, but four of them were good for touchdowns.
Catholic Falls to 0-4
Catholic (0-3, 0-1 Old Dominion Athletic Conference) squandered its best opportunity for a victory last week, blowing a six-point lead in the final 81/2 minutes of a 16-13 loss to Randolph-Macon. Cardinals receiver Pat Truxillo returned two punts for touchdowns, but both plays were negated by penalties. After Truxillo bruised his leg and had to leave the game, his replacement muffed a punt at Catholic's 23-yard line, setting up the Yellow Jackets' game-winning field goal. . . .
Howard running back Jamar Smith, who ran for 73 yards and one touchdown in the first four games, will miss the rest of the season because of a broken leg. . . .
Bison senior Brandon Torrey was named MEAC lineman of the week after grading out at 98 percent on his blocking against Savannah State. . . .
Howard receiver Thyron Lewis, a transfer from Los Angeles Harbor Community College who was ineligible to play in the first three games, caught two passes against Savannah State -- touchdowns of 50 and 33 yards.