NEW BRITAIN - As Central Connecticut State football head coach Pete Rossomando sat in his office, he made one thing clear - Week 1 was officially over with.
After spending time reviewing the Syracuse game tape, a 50-7 loss, the Blue Devils turned their focus to preparing for this afternoon’s game against Fordham.
“We’re disappointed after the first one obviously,” Rossomando said. “Playing an ACC team you don’t expect to go out and I don’t think dominate the game or anything like that, and don’t get me wrong, but I thought we could have played cleaner on both sides of the ball.”
CCSU finished with that game converting 1 of 15 third-down opportunities while allowing the Orange to accumulate 586 yards of total offense.
But like the Blue Devils, the Rams also spent the first week of the season playing an opponent in a higher division with a similar result, falling to Army 64-6. That has made studying Fordham’s defense particularly difficult considering the differences between CCSU’s offensive scheme and the triple-option the Black Knights run.
“You can’t really get much out of the defense other than personnel and they have good personnel on defense,” Rossomando said. “They’re fast and they can run. Not quite as big and physical as the team we played, yet still have two really good interior linemen.”
In order to be successful against a solid defense, CCSU will have to, or would like to, establish its running game. The Blue Devils collected just 54 yards on the ground in Week 1. The return of sophomore running back Drew Jean-Guillaume from a knee injury should help. Last season Jean-Guilluame rushed for 160 yards on 41 carries.
Having their young offensive line already with some game experience should help as well. The offense will also need the wide receivers to catch passes for quarterback Jacob Dolegala. The group dropped seven against Syracuse.
“I think the key is to stay ahead of the chains on them, make sure we’re in good yardage situations,” Rossomando said. “Last week we had 15 third downs, 13 were more than seven yards. That’s not really a place you want to be. Try to stay ahead and give ourselves a chance to run the football.”
Defensively, CCSU will have to contend with a team that has plenty of playmakers on offense. Despite a lack of scoring, the Rams were able to collect more than 300 yards of total offense and 20 first downs compared to Army’s 22.
“They have the best back in the country at this level in Chase Edmonds and a quarterback [Kevin Anderson] that can sling it so those are guys we really have to focus on this week,” the head coach said. “Their receivers make plays for their quarterback, who knows where to go with the football.
“The most important thing we have to do to be successful is run to the football and get 11 hats to the ball every single play. If you see us have success it’s because we’re running to the ball. This back is going to have his yards.”
Edmonds ran 15 times for 49 yards and a touchdown last week, but rushed for 1,799 yards and 19 scored a year ago. Stopping him will be the top priority of linebacker Randall Laguerre and the defense.
This game, however, could come down to whoever takes advantage of their big-play opportunities. The Blue Devils would like it to be them.
“If we make some of the plays that we just missed by a half inch last week, and [Syracuse] made some great plays, don’t get me wrong,” Rossomando said, “those are some of the things that can turn the tide of the game and make a difference in a close one, which I think this one will be.”