2023 William & Mary vs Campbell

Kyle Kensing's CAA Football Final Standings Predictions

Kyle Kensing's CAA Football Final Standings Predictions

The Coastal Athletic Association's depth and competitive balance make for a challenging championship race to forecast.

Aug 12, 2023 by Kyle Kensing
Kyle Kensing's CAA Football Final Standings Predictions

Coastal Athletic Association football promises a memorable 2023 season, thanks in no small part to the strength and depth of the conference. 

Coming off a 2022 in which the CAA sent five representatives to the FCS Playoffs, each of the five teams reload with rosters capable of making another push to the postseason. 

However, they can expect stiff competition, as 15 teams jockey for position in a loaded league. 

Second-year member Monmouth boasts one of the best offenses in the nation behind Walter Payton Award contender Jaden Shirden.

Towson embarks on a new era with a national championship-winning coach in Pete Schinnick.

Coming off a disappointing finish to 2022, Villanova is a program that never stays down long.

And newcomers, Campbell and North Carolina A&T, each bring plenty to the table in their debut season in the CAA. 

From top to bottom, there may not be a more intriguing and more unpredictable conference in the Football Championship Subdivision. 

The CAA — "SEC of FCS," as Campbell's Mike Minter described it — could shake out as follows. 

It also might completely defy all expectations, as often is the case. 

1. William & Mary

Projected CAA Record: 7-1 

The co-reigning champion returns playmakers all over the field, particularly on a defense that features four preseason first-team All-CAA selections spread across the line (Nate Lynn), linebacker corps (2022 Buck Buchanan award runner-up John Pius) and secondary (Ryan Poole and Jalen Jones). 

On offense, the Tribe have any combination of skill-position players capable of going off. That includes quarterback Darius Wilson, running backs Malachi Imoh and Bronson Yoder and wide receiver DreSean Kendrick, who likely will move into a more prominent spot. 

William & Mary has the pieces to run the table, but that's always a tall order in such a deep conference. 

The Tribe face several potential landmines on the road, beginning Week 1 at Campbell; Sept. 30 at Elon; then back-to-back contests at UAlbany and Hampton. 

t2. New Hampshire

Projected CAA Record: 6-2

Splitting the conference championship with William & Mary in Rick Santos' first full year as head coach set a high bar for the 2023 New Hampshire Wildcats. Don't be surprised if they surpass it. 

An offense with do-everything back Dylan Laube, experienced quarterback Max Brosmer and a defense that jumps off from arguably the most intimidating line in the country, give UNH the framework for another CAA championship run. 

The Wildcats face an immediate barometer when they go on the road to face Delaware, then face a stretch of three road games in four weeks at Stony Brook, Rhode Island and Monmouth. And that's all leading up to the Battle for the Brice-Cowell Musket, always a guaranteed great game. 

t2. Richmond

Projected CAA Record: 6-2

Richmond faces some turnover coming off a breakthrough year for head coach Russ Huesman, but the Spiders are more than equipped to handle changes at quarterback, wide receiver and offensive coordinator 

The Richmond offensive line should be among the best in FCS, helping ease the learning curve for a new-look offense. On defense, Tristan Wheeler's return to captain things, and Marlem Louis' maturation into the next great Spiders lineman, have the defense poised to keep UR in contention. 

Expect Richmond to head into the Oldest Rivalry in the South against William & Mary very much in play for the CAA title. 

t4. Delaware 

Projected CAA Record: 5-3

Ryan Carty's tenure coaching at his alma mater began impressively, with the Blue Hens riding one of the most dominant defenses in FCS to a playoff berth. 

Delaware faces considerable turnover in the starting rotation on that side of the ball, most notably the departures of All-Americans in linebacker Johnny Buchanan and defensive back Kedrick Whitehead. 

The Blue Hens also replace standout quarterback Nolan Henderson on offense. 

Still, in spite of the new faces taking over in the starting lineup, Delaware is not lacking for playmakers or potential. 

A new starting quarterback will be able to lean on a backfield with multiple rushing options, as top yardage leaders Kyron Cumby and Marcus Yarns both return, and UD adds freshman back Saeed St. Fleur from prep powerhouse Bergen Catholic. 

Defensively, Nic Ware and Jack Hall will step into bigger roles as two of the top statistical returners. 

Delaware's league schedule is potentially treacherous, starting out of the gate with a trip to Stony Brook in Week 1. That sets the tone for the Blue Hens facing some potential traps away from home, including Hampton and Towson in consecutive weeks, and Campbell between home dates with Elon and Villanova. They draw New Hampshire at home early, a potential pace-setter for the CAA. 

t4. Elon 

Projected CAA Record: 5-3

Elon's breakout season under Tony Trisciani last season set a standard the coach said he looks to become a stepping stone to future conference championships. 

Should the Phoenix find the right difference-maker at quarterback to throw to a loaded wide receiving corps — a process aided by a veteran offensive line and one of the best backs in the CAA, Jalen Hampton — then Elon will be right there in the title hunt. 

First, however, the Phoenix take on one of the tougher opening-month schedules. 

They travel to Wake Forest, the first of three road games in August/September, with trips in-state to 2022 Big South champion Gardner-Webb and CAA newcomer Campbell also in the mix. 

Elon hosts North Carolina A&T, a dangerous first-year CAA member that will look to make an impression in its Coastal debut. 

Then, to close out the month, Elon welcomes William & Mary to Rhodes Stadium for what could be the most significant championship race-shaping matchup of the CAA's first month. 

t4. Monmouth 

Projected CAA Record: 5-3

In his 30 years building Monmouth football from its inception, coach Kevin Callahan has always adapted successfully. After his Hawks thrived offensively their first season in the CAA, but struggled defensively, expect Monmouth to adapt in Year 2, as it has consistently in Callahan's tenure. 

The Hawks get a marquee opportunity to set their CAA course for 2023 when, in Week 2, they visit Towson. The winner of that game will be a team to watch in pursuit of the FCS Playoffs. 

Monmouth's trip to Towson in Week 2 begins a Coastal slate marked with tough road games, including traveling to Elon and William & Mary in consecutive weeks in late October. 

The Hawks also wrap up on the road against a UAlbany team that, like Monmouth, should be in the mix for a postseason berth with improved defensive play this season. 

t4. Rhode Island

Projected CAA Record: 5-3  

Could 2023 be the year? 

Jim Fleming has done a remarkable job in his tenure as Rhode Island head coach in building a program that languished in the cellar of the CAA to now routinely finishing in the upper-half. 

However, it's yet to translate into an FCS Playoffs berth. 

Rhode Island's pursuit of the program's first postseason since 1985 looms large as one of the most talked-about storylines in this FCS season. The first few weeks of the campaign will go a long way in determining the Rams' playoff prospects. 

They play three CAA games in the first four weeks, including two in a row on the road against opponents that finished last season out of the postseason picture, though both factor into the race this year: Maine and Villanova. 

Ahead of the road trip double-dip, Rhody hosts Stony Brook on a Friday night, taking advantage of the new lights added to Meade Stadium in 2019

t8. UAlbany

Projected CAA Record: 4-4

Reese Poffenbarger's breakout season at quarterback sets the stage for a UAlbany team that, despite finishing 3-8 a year ago, has plenty of reason for optimism in 2023. 

The Great Danes came out on the short end of several of the most exciting finishes in the CAA last year, dropping instant classics to New Hampshire, Monmouth, Hampton and Villanova over consecutive weeks. 

That culminated in UAlbany finally breaking through in one of those nail-biters late in the season, however, with the Great Danes beating Maine 23-21 on Nov. 12.


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They will try to channel that same energy when CAA play kicks off against one of the opponents that edged the Great Danes in 2022, Villanova. The Wildcats' visit to Bob Ford Field marks the latest start to conference competition for any Coastal team, coming in Week 5. 

t8. Villanova 

Projected CAA Record: 4-4

Perhaps no program in the CAA knows better that preseason projections hold little value when the action begins than Villanova. 

Picked to win the Coastal a year ago, the Wildcats slipped to the middle of the pack and fell out of the playoff picture. 

However, in a breakthrough 2019, Villanova was projected near the bottom of the league. 

The right combination of previously unknown or overlooked players emerging as standouts was key to Villanova's run from 2019 through 2021, which culminated in a conference championship. Mark Ferrante's bunch will aim to replicate that feat in 2023. 

t10. Campbell

Projected CAA Record: 3-5

Campbell arrives for its first season in the CAA a "young" team in several applications of the word. 

The Camels, along with North Carolina A&T, are the two Coastal newcomers. And, for Campbell, it has played at a scholarship level for only five years. 

What's more, coach Mike Minter has assembled a roster rife with talent but still lean on experience. 

All told, the Camels likely will face some growing pains in 2023, but with promising prospects of quick growth. 

A Week 1 showdown with current CAA standard-bearer William & Mary at Barker-Lane Stadium presents a huge opportunity for Campbell in its Coastal debut. 

t10. Maine

Projected CAA Record: 3-5 

There may not be a team better equipped to engineer a full-scale turnaround than Maine. 

After a 2-9 finish in Jordan Stevens' return to Orono, the Black Bears regroup with the lessons from numerous one-score losses. 

Derek Robertson's return at full-strength captaining an offense that includes big-play receiving threat Montigo Moss and promising tight end Rohan Jones sets up the Maine offense, while the defense looks to return to its Black Hole production levels behind linebacker Vince Thomas and a secondary with Buggs Brown and Abdul Stewart. 

If Maine can emerge from a brutal opening month in good shape — the Black Bears visit perennial national championship contender North Dakota State in Week 2 and 2023 title hopeful William & Mary in Week 4, with a home date against Rhode Island sandwiched between — Year 2 of the Stevens era could see a significant bounce-back. 

t12. North Carolina A&T

Projected CAA Record: 2-6 

North Carolina A&T played for a Big South championship and playoff berth in its final game before joining the CAA. That was a fitting way to transition into a new era for the Aggies, one of the strongest FCS programs of the past decade.

The success they enjoyed in the MEAC translated to four Black National Championships and Celebration Bowl wins from 2015 through 2019 and produced NFL draft picks. 

That's all to say, don't sleep on A&T in Year 1 of CAA membership, despite this projection. 

The Aggies have the pieces to contend immediately under first-year head coach Vincent Brown. The former William & Mary assistant played a key role in the Tribe's outstanding 2022, and figures to bring plenty of the same touch to Greensboro. 

A&T's first-year challenge lies in part in an especially difficult schedule. 

The Aggies face each of Elon, Delaware and Rhode Island on the road and get potential playoff teams Richmond, Towson and Villanova at home. 

A&T needs to make a statement early at either Rhodes Stadium or when Villanova visits as the first CAA team to play a league game in Truist Stadium. 

t12. Towson

Projected CAA Record: 2-6 

In his two previous head-coaching stops, Pete Schinnick built UNC-Pembroke and West Florida from the ground floor. 

At UWF, he oversaw a national championship-winning team in less than five years. 

With a track record like that, expect Towson to be in contention for the CAA title — and perhaps the program's first FCS National Championship Game appearance since 2013 — in short order.


The 2023 campaign could see a Tigers team that finished 6-5 a year ago return to the postseason. 

With returning standouts, such as Swiss Army knife D'Ago Hunter, tenacious defensive end Jesus Gibbs and one of the conference's premier coverage-corners in Robert Javier, Towson making a push for the CAA title shouldn't be surprising. 

Towson will have to address some glaring uncertainties, including quarterback play with new offensive coordinator Brian Sheppard bringing an air raid-influenced approach cultivated in part during VMI's transformation a years ago. 

The Tigers' early-season learning curve is steep, with both Monmouth and a trip to New Hampshire appearing early on the docket, as well as fellow playoff hopeful UAlbany coming to Johnny Unitas Stadium the first weekend of October. 

t14. Hampton

Projected CAA Record: 1-7

Hampton's first season in the CAA saw the Pirates compete with some of the Coastal's best, including taking co-champion William & Mary to the wire. 

The next challenge for Hampton lies ahead, as veteran coach Robert Prunty must replace several standouts and NFL-caliber talent in wide receiver Jadakis Bonds. 

A new-look Pirates roster takes on one of the more challenging road schedules in CAA play, drawing Richmond, Monmouth, Maine and Elon away from home. 

The home slate isn't exactly easy, either; 3-of-4 teams coming to Armstrong Stadium finished 2022 with at least seven wins (Delaware, North Carolina A&T and William & Mary). 

If Hampton can score an Oct. 7 win at home against Campbell, it sets up the Pirates nicely for a favorable stretch with home games in 3-of-4 October dates, including a Homecoming showdown against A&T. 

T14. Stony Brook

Projected Record: 1-7 

Stony Brook took its lumps in 2022, especially in the early half of the campaign when the Seawolves dropped six straight by double-digit-point margins. 

A dramatic win over Maine, however, set up Stony Brook to go 2-3 down the stretch with a pair of losses by seven combined points. 


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If the improved performance down the stretch — including vastly improved defensive effort, a hallmark of Chuck Priore-coached teams — carries over into 2023, the Seawolves should bounce back. 

Stony Brook has plenty of opportunities to reverse course from a season ago early in its 2023 slate, kicking off against two of the CAA's top-half finishers of a year ago. Delaware visits in the season opener, and the Seawolves visit Rhode Island in Week 2.