No. 3 Towson is as good as advertised, college football analyst says

Depending on which poll you subscribe to, the Towson football team is either the second-best team in the Football Championship Subdivision (according to the FCS coaches) or the third best (according to The Sports Network).

Either way, it’s heady stuff for the Tigers, who are 5-0 overall and 1-0 in the Colonial Athletic Association as they prepare for a visit this Saturday from No. 19 New Hampshire.

Andy Gresh, a college football analyst for Comcast SportsNet New England, said the rankings are appropriate.

“[T]hey’re legit,” Gresh said Wednesday. “They can play some defense and they can run the ball. I had the New Hampshire-Towson game last year, and the biggest thing for me was, if you don’t tackle well against [junior running back] Terrance West, he will make you pay. The funny thing is, people always say that you have to take away the best player, you have to take away this or take away that. People load up for Terrance West, and they still give him the rock and eventually he ends up getting his yards. I thought UConn was the perfect example of him running through contact and doing it well. He’s got a nose for the end zone.”

Gresh's only concern about Towson is whether the offense can claw out of a deep hole late in the game. Can the team rely on quarterback Peter Athens to spark a late comeback when the fifth-year senior is averaging a little more than 15 completions and almost 198 passing yards per game this fall?

“When you have a bell cow like West, feed him the rock. Keep it simple, stupid. Don’t do anything crazy,” Gresh said. “But do they have the ability to open it up? I have faith that they can do that, but with this defense, they’re really not going to be in that position unless the offense turns the ball over. I look at them and say that they’re a team that really has to take care of the ball. ... I think they can throw it. I don’t know if they would morph into Richmond if they ever had to throw the ball that many times. I think it would be fair to say that is the question.”

Still, the Tigers are enjoying unprecedented attention nationally, and Gresh said some of the credit should go to coach Rob Ambrose for raising the bar when he took over before the 2009 season.

“I think that Rob Ambrose has set the tone down there,” Gresh said. “It took him a while to build it, but now he can say, ‘This is who we are, this is who we’ve become.’ I think he’s done a really good job of setting a level of expectation here where .500 isn’t going to be good enough. [A] .500 [record] in this league can be pretty tough in some years.”

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