URI, UAlbany Deploy Big Time Weapons At Wide Receiver

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You won’t find a better collection of receivers in a Colonial Athletic Association game than the ones who will be on the field when Rhode Island plays at UAlbany on Saturday.

URI’s Aaron Parker and Isaiah Coulter lead the CAA in receptions per game, and UAlbany’s Juwan Green and Jerah Reeves are tied for third in that category. Check out their numbers:

Parker: 47 receptions for 746 yards and six touchdowns (7.83 receptions per game)

Coulter: 43 receptions for 657 yards and four TDs (7.17 rpg)

Green: 46 receptions for 702 yards and eight TDs (6.57 rpg)

Reeves: 46 receptions for 565 yards and four TDs (6.57 rpg)

Coulter caught nine passes for 152 yards in last weekend’s 34-17 loss to Virginia Tech. Parker drew double coverage for much of that contest but still finished with five catches for 64 yards.

“They can play,” URI coach Jim Fleming said. “I mean they can play with anybody. These guys both have NFL talent. Everybody knows that. Everybody’s recognized the performance. 

“You look at Isaiah, he’s just a phenomenal athlete. Made a lot of plays and gotten a lot of production over the last three weeks. Aaron goes in there and makes some incredible, incredible catches every week. He’s a guy who always seems to come up big when you need it. We all know about those guys and they have to continue to perform for us, but the game is a team game.”

Reeves (10 catches for 143 yards) and Green (eight receptions for 156 yards) both had big games when UAlbany (4-3, 2-1 CAA) upset No. 9 Towson 38-21 last weekend. UAlbany quarterback Jeff Undercuffler was named the CAA Co-Offensive Player of the Week after he passed for 380 yards and two touchdowns in that victory.

Much of the yardage Reeves and Green gained in that game came after the catch.

“One of the differences is Jeff’s just delivering the ball with more power and more accuracy, which gives them that extra second to try to make a kid miss,” UAlbany coach Greg Gattuso said. “Those runs after catches are the kinds of things that drive defensive coaches crazy.”

URI (1-5, 0-3) leads the CAA in pass offense (333.8 ypg). URI quarterback Vito Priore has completed 163 of 258 passes for 2,003 yards and 13 touchdowns this season. He’s had three passes intercepted.

Priore has piled up those statistics against defenses that expected the Rams to throw. URI is last among CAA teams in rushing (67.0 ypg).

“Any team that can throw the football like that is a big danger,” Gattuso said. “There’s been some great receivers in this league, but I don’t know that I’ve seen anybody better than Aaron Parker unless it’s Isaiah Coulter. They’re a real challenge.

“We’ve got to put a great football game this week and try to put two great games together.”

Undercuffler, a redshirt freshman, has completed 145 of 237 passes for 1,881 yards. He’s tied with Villanova’s Daniel Smith with a league-high 20 touchdown passes and has been intercepted six times.

Undercuffler ranks third among CAA quarterbacks in passing yards per game (268.7).

UAlbany has recorded 15 sacks and ranks fourth in the CAA in pass defense (211.6). URI has seven sacks and is 10th in pass defense (257.2).

“They’re very good with their timing routes,” Fleming said. “Their vertical passing game is extremely concerning. 

“We have our work cut out for us and we have to be executing in all three phases at a very high level if we expect to go down there a win.”

Upset Alert

UAlbany’s victory over Towson was one of four CAA games played last weekend in which an unranked team beat a ranked team. The others were Elon’s 42-7 triumph over No. 15 Delaware, New Hampshire’s 20-14 victory over No. 22 Stony Brook, and Richmond’s 24-17 win against No. 18 Maine.

“There’s not a coach in this conference who feels comfortable every week that they’re going to win the game,” Gattuso said. “Top to bottom in our league you better be ready to play every week or you’re not going to win. It’s played out across our conference week after week after week where teams are supposed to dominate somebody, and they lose. … The records mean nothing. They literally mean nothing in our league.”

Of Note

  • URI is 12th (last) among CAA teams in scoring defense (34.2) and rushing defense (231.5), although two of the Rams’ losses came against FBS opponents (Ohio and Virginia Tech).
  • UAlbany’s Karl Mofor ran for 130 yards and two touchdowns against Towson. Mofor is averaging 4.8 yards per carry and ranks second among CAA players in rushing yards per game (93.6).
  • UAlbany is second in the CAA in red zone offense (94.1).
  • UAlbany linebacker Eli Mencer leads the conference in tackles for loss (13) and fumbles recovered (three). 
  • URI is No. 1 in the CAA in time of possession (33:03 per game).

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