Towson, with a 4-0 record and the No. 3 spot in the latest Football Championship Subdivision poll, will open play in the Colonial Athletic Association at Stony Brook this Saturday. But the current Seawolves team will look a lot different than the one that began the 2013 season.
Stony Brook (1-2 overall and 1-1 in the conference) will play without a pair of starters in senior running back Marcus Coker and senior cornerback Reuben Johnson.
Coker, a Beltsville native who transferred from the University of Iowa, had 1,018 yards and nine touchdowns in 13 games last year and posted 212 yards and one touchdown in two contests this fall before suffering an abdominal injury and being ruled out for the remainder of the season.
Johnson, a transfer from the University of Cincinnati, recorded 10 tackles, 2 1/2 tackles for loss and two fumble recoveries in two games before a knee injury sidelined him for the rest of 2013.
Without that pair, the Seawolves were pounded, 35-6, by Villanova last Saturday. But Towson coach Rob Ambrose said overlooking the Seawolves would be a mistake.
“You hate to see those guys go down. You hate to see guys get hurt on any team. But when you’re facing a good program and a well-coached team like this, there’s a next man up mentality that the backups prepare like they’re starters and they’re ready to step in and not miss a beat,” he said Tuesday during a conference call organized by the CAA. “So while I’m sure that everybody is mourning their losses a little bit at Stony Brook, I think their staff and their team are very confident that the next guys are going to step in. We can’t really focus on what they don’t have or what they do have. We just have to focus on what we need to do to be successful.”
Despite the losses of Coker and Johnson, Stony Brook will still feature senior wide receiver Malcolm Eugene, who ranks ninth in the FCS in receiving yards per game (120.7) and has caught three touchdown passes.
Towson senior cornerback Jordan Love, who has returned from a foot injury and started in each of the last two games, could see a lot of Eugene, who is clearly on the Tigers’ radar.
“I could get really descriptive and just say, ‘Wow.’ He’s an exceptional player,” Ambrose said of Eugene. “Every team has [someone like] him, and he is one of the exceptional players on this team, and he is certainly a big-time concern for our defense.”