Towson, Delaware Square Off In De Facto Elimination Game

All-Access: Delaware

November has arrived, and with it comes championship season in the Colonial Athletic Association. An atmosphere in which every game takes on heightened significance sets the scene for what could be a de facto playoff-elimination tilt between Delaware and Towson.


Who: Delaware (4-4, 2-2 CAA) at Towson (4-4, 1-3 CAA) 

When: Saturday, Nov. 2, 2 p.m. ET 

Where: Johnny Unitas Stadium; Towson, Maryland 

Watch: LIVE on FloFootball


Both teams sit at .500 heading into the final month of the regular season, coming off losses and needing strong pushes to make the field of 24. The margin for error is slim, if it exists at all. 

The Tigers battled No. 2 James Madison a week ago in a game that, despite the loss, coach Rob Ambrose called “encouraging.” 

“I think we’re building something for the rest of the season,” he said. “The kids have been really resilient.” 

Injuries have rocked Towson, and the same is true for Delaware. Just as the Fightin’ Blue Hens welcomed back lightning bug running back DeJoun Lee, they lost dual-threat quarterback Nolan Henderson. 

Delaware fell in a roller-coaster contest Week 9 to Richmond, another CAA squad facing a veritable win-or-go home November. 

QB Pressure

Towson quarterback Tom Flacco faced a consistent and heavy pass-rush from arguably the best defensive line in the country at James Madison. The absence of safety net Shane Simpson, a reliable pass-catcher in such pressure situations, has left Towson vulnerable to sacks; the team’s 25 are the second-most surrendered in the CAA this season. 

Meanwhile, Delaware comes to town with the fewest sacks of any CAA team at just three. 

How defensive coordinator Chris Cosh opts to approach the Towson offensive line presents an intriguing dynamic. Do the Blue Hens attempt to blitz, or focus on limiting the dual-threat Flacco and hard-running, between-the-tackles back Yeedee Thaenrat? 

In contrast, the only offense yielding more sacks than Towson thus far is Delaware. In both cases, playing dual-threat quarterbacks pads the numbers somewhat; a running quarterback is more susceptible to the occasional TFL recorded as a sack. 

However, a Towson defense that has thrived this season bringing heavy pressure presents difficulties for the Blue Hens. Delaware counters with offensive coordinator Jared Ambrose drawing up the scheme. The brother of Tigers coach Rob and former Towson offensive coordinator knows Towson’s players in a way no other opponent can. 

“Jared worked for a Rob over a decade, and was a big part of their success over there at Towson,” Delaware coach Danny Rocco said. “I had Jared offer the scouting report Sunday night in front of the team, just to talk about some of their personnel.” 

Limiting The Big Play

Of that personnel Jared Ambrose addressed to Delaware, surely one name to come up prominently is linebacker Keon Paye. Paye has been key to the CAA’s second-most prolific, interception-generating defense. What’s more, he’s run a pick back for a touchdown this season, and was tackled at the one-yard line on another. 

That’s notable for a Delaware team that, in losses, has been prone to surrendering big-play scores in all three phases. A Greg Liggs Jr. pick-six Oct. 12 at Elon buried any hope of a Blue Hens comeback. 

Last week against Richmond, special teams misfires played a critical part in the loss with Spiders returner Aaron Dykes taking two back for touchdowns. Then on defense, Delaware’s season-long yield of 6.3 yards per play is second-most in the conference. 

Wide receiver Shane Leatherbury can be an especially dangerous big-play target, but Darian Street adds additional punch for which Delaware will have to account. 

Towson hasn’t been immune to surrendering big plays itself, with its defense experiencing some feast-or-famine results. The Tigers give up 5.8 yards per play, and their touchdowns allowed in CAA play include a 60-yard pass last week vs. James Madison; a 36-yard pass and 26-yard run vs. UAlbany; and passes of 31 and 27 yards against Villanova, with a 36-yard run, as well.  

Delaware running back Will Knight averages a staggering 7.8 yards per carry. Balancing his workload with the speedy Lee gives the Blue Hens some potential big-play ball-carriers. 

Setting The Tone Early

With the exception of an early-season win at Rhode Island, Delaware’s been at its best playing a physical, methodical style of game. The marquee win over New Hampshire, for example, saw the Blue Hens defense stifle the Wildcats then grinding them down with an efficient run game on the other side of the ball. 

Towson’s style is the opposite. The Tigers look to come out with high tempo on offense, pushing the defense back on its heels, generating takeaways on the other end and creating an up-and-down pace. 

Establishing its signature style early will be critical. A high-scoring first half benefits Towson; a first half with limited possessions is more Delaware’s strength.

Spring Comes Early At William & Mary As Tribe Returns To The Gridiron

Mike London Is Back With The Tribe

Barely moments after the last piece of confetti fell in Frisco, signaling the end of the 2019 college football season, William & Mary opened its spring practice season in Williamsburg, kicking off the 2020 campaign. 

Elon's Matt Foster Selected As CAA Football Scholar-Athlete Of The Year

RICHMOND, Va. (February 11, 2020) – Elon senior tight end Matt Foster was selected as the 2019 CAA Football Scholar-Athlete of the Year by a vote of the conference’s athletics directors.

CAA Signing Day In Review: 'Nova, JMU Cap Impressive Hauls

The implementation of an early signing period in December has altered the dynamics of National Signing Day in February somewhat. Still, the first Wednesday of the month marks an important milestone in the development of any college football program. 

D'Eriq King To Arkansas? A Knee-Jerk Observation

A beautiful thing happened as LSU’s coronation tour neared its grand conclusion on Monday night: Breaking news, as D’Eriq King Tweeted, “Just kidding, I’m definitely leaving Houston — probably always was.”

Mecole Hardman Sparked A Chiefs Comeback, But First He Called His Shot

With Kansas City trailing Houston 24-0 in the second quarter of Sunday's AFC Divisional round playoff game, Chiefs wide receiver Mecole Hardman returned a kick from his own end zone all the way back to the Texan 42-yard line, injecting life into his team and into a rabid crowd at Arrowhead Stadium.

James Madison Fell Short, But The Dukes Aren't Going Anywhere

FRISCO, Texas — Were James Madison and North Dakota State to play 100 times, it’s easy to predict that they would split the series 50-50. 

The Stage Is Set For An FCS Championship For The Ages

FRISCO, Texas -- Although James Madison and North Dakota State ended the 2018 season on much different notes, their paths to meeting in the 2019 season’s title game were similar. And the gap between them now feels immeasurable.  

The Only Thing Bigger Than Ron'Dell Carter's Personality Is His Game

FRISCO, Texas -- Draw up a blueprint for the ideal football star: What qualities spring to mind? 

Power Five Transfers Have Fueled JMU's Run To Frisco

FRISCO, Texas -- They came from the ACC, the American, the Big Ten to be here in Texas, by way of Harrisonburg. 

3 Things To Watch As James Madison Aims To Dethrone North Dakota State

Pair two teams as similar — and as excellent — as James Madison and North Dakota State, and just a single facet can completely change the game.