The last thing a struggling passing offense needs is a matchup against a defense with a relentless pass rush.
That's the scenario awaiting Towson (2-3 overall and 0-1 in the Colonial Athletic Association) when the Tigers play league rival Stony Brook at Johnny Unitas Stadium on Saturday at 3:30 p.m.
Towson, which ranks 112th out of 121 Football Championship Subdivision teams in passing at 115.6 yards per game, meets a Seawolves defense that ranks sixth in the country in sacks with 17. But as coach Rob Ambrose pointed out, sacks aren't the only department in which Stony Brook fares well.
"It ain't just the pass rush," he said Monday in a weekly conference call arranged by the conference. "Their starting 11 is as good as any starting 11 we're going to see all year. … They are stingy, they don't give up points, and they were like this last year. What concerns me particularly? Everything."
Ambrose is right. The Seawolves are second in the nation in average yards (227.4), ninth in scoring (15.0 points), and tied for 18th in first downs (64).
But Stony Brook sacked William and Mary sophomore quarterback Steve Cluley six times Saturday, and even though the Tribe prevailed, 27-21, in overtime, Seawolves coach Chuck Priore noted that the defense caused 22 plays of negative yardage, including the six sacks.
"I think that's a week-to-week thing, and we're certainly examining what they do," he said Monday of Towson's blocking schemes. "We've played good defense this year. … I think if you do that, you're going to be on top of it defensively and cause people problems. We've just got to continue to play well and make big plays when we need to make them."
Tigers junior quarterback Connor Frazier was sacked three times in Saturday's 27-24 loss to Maine, which was the second-most in a game this season. But Ambrose said he thought the offensive line, tight ends and fullbacks did a decent job keeping Frazier upright.
"I was concerned last week because Maine has a very, very good defense, and I was really impressed with our kids," Ambrose said. "For the most part, we held up pretty good, and we did things schematically to put ourselves in good position.
"But if Maine was an 'A' on defense, then Stony Brook is an 'A-plus' defense. We're all going to have to be on point, and we're all going to have to know the plan, and we're all going to have to give our best to be successful."