1. The run around. UB couldn’t get the running game going at Ohio State. And it couldn’t get the running game going at Baylor. A 78-yard per-game average is troublesome for a team that considers the run its offensive identity. Have there been extenuating circumstances? Of course. The Bulls probably won’t again face an opponent with linebackers who close as fast as those of their first two opponents. Holes are less likely to appear and then disappear before the running backs can hit them. And Branden Oliver isn’t likely to average a scant 2.7 yards per carry all season. Stony Brook played shutout defense in its opener against Rhode Island but the fact is the Rams aren’t very good. Today’s matchup affords the Bulls a chance to get rolling on the ground. And the Seawolves won’t hang 70 on them if they don’t.
2. A new approach. When these two teams met in 2011 Stony Brook was built heavily around the run. The Seawolves were even more one-dimensional last year, Army-like in fact. In a playoff win over Villanova, Stony Brook ran 58 times and threw it just six. But while it might look like the Seawolves played out of character at Rhode Island (39 rushes, 20 passes), that’s the kind of ratio coach Chuck Priore is looking for after graduating his two top runners. Temple transfer Malcolm Eugene was one of three receivers with three catches in the opener and totaled a team-high 56 yards with a long of 40. The guy they’re really excited about is Jahrie Level, an Idaho transfer who had 10 catches for 119 yards against a tough Bowling Green defense. He missed the opener (ankle) but is expected back today. If the Seawolves get into passing situations they’ll have to deal with Khalil Mack off the edge.
3. Catch 19. Every opponent knows that Alex Neutz, right, is the primary target in the UB passing game. And still they can’t do anything about it. The sure-handed senior from Grand Island is averaging 147.5 yards a game and 19.7 a reception, remarkable numbers given the quality of the opposition to date. Last year Neutz accounted for about 33 percent of UB’s receptions. This year it’s closer to 50 percent (Neutz 15, rest of team 19). One of these weeks an opponent will go all out to eliminate him as a target. UB has proven it has options, particularly at tight end, where Matt Weiser, Mason Schreck and Jimmy Gordon have combined for eight catches. Last year, UB had 24 catches by tight ends.
4. Beware the ballhawks. Stony Brook forced and recovered three fumbles against Rhode Island, which has become a trademark of Priore’s teams. Two years ago it was plus-16 in turnover ratio. Last year it was plus-1 but still recovered 11 fumbles and picked off nine passes. Senior DE Junior Solice produced five tackles, a sack and a forced fumble against Rhode Island. He had a career-high four solo tackles vs. UB in 2011.
5. Extra points. UB won the only other meeting, 35-7, in the 2011 opener. Alex Dennison caught a 57-yard TD pass from Chazz Anderson on the first play from scrimmage. … Stony Brook is a new member of the Colonial Athletic Association. … Nick Ferrera, a Maryland transfer, had a school D-I record 68-yard punt in the opener. … Neutz has 149 career catches. … UB hasn’t broken a run longer than 11 yards . . . Bulls have won four straight against FCS teams. … UB’s Patrick Clarke hasn’t tried a FG.
Outlook: Worse spot than usual for Stony Brook after what happened to Bulls at Baylor last week. This is where UB takes out its frustrations. Bulls, 41-7.