A football season can offer the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. Delaware has experienced both of these extremes in the span of two weeks. After a thrilling 24-23 last second home victory over #25 ranked William & Mary, the Blue Hens were shutout 20-0 by one of the worst teams in all of Division I football, Rhode Island. It has Hens fans invoking the opening line of The Alan Parsons Project song Games People Play, “Where do we go from here?” That question will be answered this Saturday at Delaware Stadium when the Blue Hens (2-4), coming off a bye week, host the New Hampshire Wildcats (3-3).
Despite only completing nine of 20 passes at Rhode Island, Joe Walker maintains his hold of the top spot on the quarterback depth chart. His touchdown to interception ratio for the season is also alarming with just one pass finding the endzone, compared to five that have found opposing defenses. Expect the ground game on both sides of the ball to be the emphasis for head coach Dave Brock.
Did Rhode Island provide the plan for future opponents? The Rams were able to do what North Carolina and William & Mary could not: hold Thomas Jefferson under 100 yards rushing. Rhode Island’s defense crowded the line of scrimmage daring Delaware to throw. That strategy proved to be successful, as Jefferson only gained 65 yards on the ground. The 149 total rushing yards against Rhode Island was nearly 100 below the Blue Hen’s season average per game (244). New Hampshire has the second worst rush defense in the Colonial Athletic Association, giving up over 200 yards a game. Delaware’s strength against the Wildcats weakness is exactly the match-up the Blue Hens need for them to be competitive on Saturday.
The Hens’ defense could be the deciding factor. Stout against the run, Delaware leads the CAA in rushing defense by limiting opposing teams to under 113 yards a game. Facing that obstacle, the Wildcats may decide to pick on the conferences second worst pass defense. Delaware gives up over 230 yards through the air. The Wildcats expect to start Sean Goldrich, who returned to the starting lineup at quarterback last week at William & Mary after suffering an ankle sprain in week two against Colgate. Goldrich is completing over 55 percent of his attempts though he is only averaging less then 127 yards a game via the pass.
Delaware has given up a combined 77 points the last two times they have met New Hampshire, both Blue Hen losses. The Hens will likely need to keep the Wildcats under their 26 points a game average to earn their first win in the series since 2010.