By Steve Marcus, Newsday
Coach: Chuck Priore, seventh season (37-31).
Last year: 9-4, 6-0 Big South. Seawolves made their first appearance in the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs, beating Albany, 31-28, before losing to top-ranked Sam Houston State, 34-27.
Backfield in motion: That would be Big South offensive player of the year Miguel Maysonet and Iowa transfer Marcus Coker. Barring injury, mark each down for at least 1,000 yards. And do not expect a running back controversy. “Bottom line, we’re a running team, we’re going to get our share of carries,’’ Maysonet said. “It’s going to be like last year with Brock [Jackolski]; we both had well over a thousand yards.’’ Maysonet had 1,633, a school single- season record. Coker just wants to fit in.
“There’s not even expectations,’’ he said. “We’re all just going out there because everybody loves the game.’’
Key could be the D: While the offense may seem to run on automatic, the defensive line will need some help with co-captain Jonathan Coats the only returning starter. Victor Ochi, Dimitry Russ, Dante Allen, Kevin Hauter and Bryce Brantley will get an opportunity to show what they can do. Can Lester Simpson, who played junior college ball at Lackawanna and in the FBS at Minnesota before suffering an injury, come up big? Also intriguing is former Hofstra defensive back Greg Melendez, who has transferred from Idaho for his final year of eligibility.
Games to watch: at Syracuse Sept. 15; at Army Sept. 29. “Both teams are from New York,’’ Maysonet said. “We’d like to show we can play with them.’’ Key stat: Stony Brook led the FCS in scoring with 38.0 points per game.
What to expect: Some players are talking about a national title, but Priore is a bit more reserved, saying, “That’s not my gig. There’s so many factors that get involved that are not controllable by any of our players or anybody involved with this program.’’
The Seawolves are headed to the challenging Colonial Athletic Association next season but can’t coast in their final year in the Big South. A return trip to the FCS playoffs likely will require going undefeated in the one-bid conference. That will require beating Liberty on the road, something the Seawolves have yet to accomplish.
Steve Marcus Prediction: 9-2.
Greg Logan Prediction: 10-1