Opponent #1, Albany Great Danes
My approach this fall is I am going to assume things are back to normal. What do I mean? The Herd has been a high level commodity in the FCS football universe for more than a decade. Last spring’s disruption didn’t unseat the coaching staff or the dynamic player pool that we field each year. In many ways 2021 is a lot like 2019. That team was coming off an unbeaten season and lost lots of key players to graduation. I and Josh Swanson were the only prognosticators who put out the clarion call that 2019 wasn’t going to be a rebuilding year, but a championship year.
I am going on record that I have a strong feeling that 2021 could have the same outcome. At this point in time, Quincy Patterson has a better resume’ than Trey had going into fall 2019. Quincy has started some FBS games and was ranked the best African-American QB coming out of high school and to date is the only 4 star prospect to play for the Herd (disclaimer, I don’t and the Bison staff sure doesn’t live by star ratings). At 6’3” and 246 lbs he is a beast. He has a great arm and displays humility in his demeanor that will lend itself to being coached up by Randy Hedberg. So 2021 is starting off like 2019 with Butler, except that Albany is a much better team and from a much better conference (CAA).
Albany has a tradition of mediocre football and until 2019 most of its victories came at the hands of the pre-conference NEC (Northeast Conference) and Patriot League foes. These league’s playoff auto qualifiers usually get wiped out in the first round. In 2019 their fortunes changed at the hands of their finding a diamond in the rough QB, Jeff Undercuffler. As a true freshman, he led the nation with 42 TD’s to only 10 interceptions. At 6’5” and 231 lbs he provided a big strong armed aerial platform. They got some balance in their offense at the hands of RB Karl Mofor. He is a 5’8” 224 lb bowling ball. In 2019 he gained 1290 yards rushing and added 32 reception for 319 yards.
Albany rode these two to an 8-4 regular season followed by a 42-14 playoff blow out over NEC Champion Central Connecticut. Their season ended at Montana State who kicked them 47-21. The Bobcats amassed 203 yards rushing and 280 through the air. Albany only got 80 yards on the ground and gave up 4 sacks. Going into the 4th quarter Montana led 42-7, so the game wasn’t a shootout with the Bobcats pulling away at the end. The next week we annihilated the Bobcats 42-14.
In the spring of 2021 Albany’s offensive magic disappeared with them going 1-3 and averaging 18.75 PPG. When Undercuffler went down by injury, Albany pulled the plug on their spring season (yes, they flat out quit).
What’s this have to do with Saturday’s game? If Montana State, in Albany’s best year, can turn the Great Danes into a single dimensional team (80 yards rushing, 4 sacks and Undercuffler going 18 for 37 with 2 Interceptions), so should Code Green. Undercuffler isn’t a dual threat QB! He’s pass only.
What does Code Green do to stick QB’s in the pocket? They eat their lunch. Remember Delaware with its non-mobile QB? In 2018 we had three sacks and 3 INT’s, followed by 7 sacks and 1 INT in 2019. I do not think Undercuffler is going to sit back in the pocket and pick us apart this Saturday. I do not think their OL is going to have their way with our deep and talented DL. Albany is a good team, not a great team.
Offensively, I don’t think their DL will prevail against the Rams. The Bobcat’s carved them up in 2019. Even with our depleted spring offense we still managed 219 YPG rushing and 5.1 YPC. I think those numbers are going to go up this fall.
Cutting to the chase, I think this is a great developmental game for us, but I also agree with the Vegas betting lines that have us a 29.68 point favorite. Albany’s preseason Sagarin rating is 199. Folks, that is not upper echelon FCS football. Go Herd.