2023 Fordham vs UAlbany

UAlbany Football Kicks Off 2023 In Week 0 Vs. Fordham. Here's What To Know

UAlbany Football Kicks Off 2023 In Week 0 Vs. Fordham. Here's What To Know

The 2023 CAA football season kicks off Week 0 when UAlbany hosts Fordham in a rematch of one of the most thrilling games of 2022.

Aug 24, 2023 by Kyle Kensing
UAlbany Football Kicks Off 2023 In Week 0 Vs. Fordham. Here's What To Know

Near-misses shaped UAlbany's 2022 football season with the Great Danes five games by one possession — four of which were decided by less than a touchdown. Among those was a 48-45 shootout at Fordham early in the season. 

UAlbany coach Greg Gattuso called the outcome "disappointing" in light of the Great Danes having an 11-point fourth-quarter lead on the eventual 2022 FCS Playoffs-qualifying Rams slip. In a 2023 season where UAlbany looks to reverse course on those close calls, a rematch with Fordham provides a fitting first opportunity.

  • Who: Fordham (9-3 in 2022, lost 1st Round of FCS Playoffs) at UAlbany (3-8 in 2022) 
  • Where: Bob Ford Field at Tom & Mary Casey Stadium, UAlbany 
  • When: Saturday, Aug. 26 at 7 p.m. ET

Fordham Features New Faces But Returns Key Weapons 

Both Fordham and UAlbany boasted two of the more exciting offenses in FCS a season ago. The Rams proved especially electrifying at 49.5 points per game, second only to Incarnate Word. 

Fordham was also second to UIW in another noteworthy instance, as FCS-leading passer Tim DeMorat finished second in Walter Payton Award voting to winner and UIW quarterback Lindsey Scott Jr. DeMorat is gone, presumably a welcomed development for the UAlbany defense after the Fordham quarterback passed for five touchdowns in last season's offensive eruption. 

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The Rams also make the trip north without wide receiver Fotis Kokosioulis, whose 1,312 receiving yards and 103 catches were both tops in the subdivision. However, every Ram who caught a touchdown against the Great Danes a season ago returns, beginning with 6-foot-3 receiver Garrett Cody and tight end Matts Buron (6-foot-5 and Jaden Allen (6-foot-3). 

Cody hauled in a pair of scores for Fordham vs. UAlbany last September and produced a game-high 123 yards. Buron and Allen each caught a touchdown. The trio combines with the speedy MJ Wright to give the new Rams starter plenty of size and a variety of looks — no matter who that new starter is. 

Fordham coach Joe Conlin had not named a starter as of Aug. 23, but New Mexico transfer CJ Montes has the most experience after starting two games last season.

No matter who starts for Fordham, the UAlbany defense can anticipate a steady diet of the pass. Saturday marks the first game for Art Asselta as the Rams offensive coordinator, but he was key to the prolific attack a year ago as associate head coach and wide receivers coach. 

A Tough First Test for The UAlbany Defense

Giving up points proved to be UAlbany's Kryptonite a season ago. Opponents went for 33.6 points per game on the Great Danes in 2022, and almost a touchdown more per in losses at 39.3. 

The secondary debuts some new contributors, and the nation's most potent passing attack offers what should be a telling measuring stick for expectations within this group. Returning starter Larry Walker Jr. joins transfers DaeSean Winston, an experienced safety from Temple; and Aamir Hall, a prominent contributor to Richmond's CAA title contention a season ago. 

Hall adds size to the secondary at 6-foot-1 and north of 200 pounds, which should come into play against the tall rotation of pass-catch targets in the Fordham offense. 

UAlbany's ability to pressure the new Fordham quarterback promises to be an important sub-plot of Saturday's matchup, as well. The Rams ranked top 40 nationally in sacks allowed at last season with 1.7 per game, and two of their three All-Patriot League offensive linemen — Lucas Portes and Ryan Joyce — return to anchor the front. 

Jared Verse left a huge void up front at UAlbany when he transferred to Florida State, but AJ Simon appeared ready to take over seamlessly with a monster debut last year at Baylor. Simon finished 2022 with 10.5 tackles for loss and five sacks in nine games. 

As the winner of the football program's Iron Dane Award for his work in the weight room, expect to see a stronger, more productive Simon leading UAlbany's front in 2023. 

Simon's former Bloomsburg University teammate William Martin III reunites with Simon on a UAlbany defensive line that could be a breakout unit in the CAA this season. The Great Danes are not lacking for experience with Elijah Hills and Anton Juncaj returning, and Juncaj coming off an especially productive 2022 with 12 tackles for loss and five quarterback hurries. Both were team-highs. 

Reese Poffenbarger Back in the Saddle

A year ago at this time, the quarterback vacancy Jeff Undercuffler left with his transfer loomed as one of the greatest mysterious in the CAA. By season's end, Reese Poffenbarger established himself as one of the best playmakers in the conference, and a leading contender for the national Jerry Rice Award. 

The sensational sophomore with an impressive athletic pedigree begins 2023 in a much different position than last year. He's an established commodity with a lofty standard to meet after completing 61.5 percent of his 369 pass attempts for 2,999 yards and 24 touchdowns against just four interceptions. 

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He'll begin the process without his top target from 2022, tight end Thomas Greaney. Greaney is doing his thing with the Cleveland Browns, leaving nine of last year's touchdowns unaccounted for. Running back Todd Sibley is also looking to make a mark in the NFL after catching one touchdown and rushing for 10 in 2022. 

While those two primary weapons leave plenty of slack to be picked up, the bulk of Poffenbarger's targets return for 2023. Six of Julian Hicks' 24 receptions went for touchdowns and are most among a crop of pass-catchers with multiple scores in '22 who are all back for '23: Roy Alexander; Jackson Parker; and Brevin Easton. 

The receiving corps should be a decided strength, and veteran tight end Ian Renninger could be posed to break out as he fills Greaney's vacancy. 

Renninger will also contribute to an offensive line with plenty of size and experience. Scott Houseman and Will Marotta each started every game last season, Kevin Singer started 10, and Ozzie Hutchinson has been in the rotation throughout each of the last two campaigns. It's a unit comparable in experience to the 2019 group, which proved instrumental to UAlbany advancing to the FCS Playoffs and scoring the program's first-ever postseason win. 

And while the 2023 FCS Playoffs are the football equivalent of a lifetime away, this Week 0 matchup establishes the tone for this UAlbany season. Fordham's run to the postseason last year included two comeback wins over CAA competition thanks to a defeat of Monmouth. 

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The Rams should factor into the Patriot League championship chase and the playoff picture once again. And it isn't just offense carrying the Rams. Fordham's defense builds around one of the most active tacklers in college football, linebacker James Conway. 

Conway racked up 127 tackles last season, including 11 for loss. He is one of five Rams who made at least four tackles for loss along with defensive linemen Matt Jaworski, Sam Buerkle and Alonzo Dixon IV, and hybrid defensive back/linebacker Stephen Williams II. 

Williams also should be a potential difference-maker in Week 0, having picked off three passes and broken up 12 attempts a season ago.  

How To Watch UAlbany Football vs Fordham? 

All CAA football games will stream on FloFootball and the FloSports app this fall. Some non-conference games may not be available on FloSports. 

The CAA game of the week can also be viewed live on youtube for free live coverage.