1) The Losing Streak - This storyline is getting repetitive, but it will continue to be a storyline until the Spiders win a game. After starting the season 2-2, Richmond has lost its last four games, all to conference opponents. Richmond has allowed at least 28 points in three of these four losses. In the one game the defense held the opponent to fewer than 28 points - a 12-10 loss at Rhode Island - the Spiders' offense played one of its worst games of the season. This team, which had high preseason expectations, is beginning to resemble the 2011 team that lost all eight of its conference games after opening the season with three wins. Fortunately for the Spiders...
2) Bottom of the CAA - Albany joins the Spiders as the other remaining winless team in the CAA. The Great Danes, who joined the CAA this year after winning consecutive Northeast Conference championships, are coach by Bob Ford, who is in his 41st season as Albany's head coach. Ford's 265 wins lead active FCS coaches and rank fourth all-time amongst FCS coaches. Albany has had success in recent years, winning four of the last six Northeast Conference championships and having one losing season since 1995. The Great Danes' have struggled in their new conference, but they will see this matchup as a good opportunity to get their first-ever CAA victory.
3) Ben Edwards' Return - Ben Edwards is expected to play this weekend and that is great news for Richmond. Edwards, who did not play last week because of a concussion he suffered in the first quarter of the Rhode-Island game, missed time earlier this season also because of a concussion. The Spiders are 2-2 when Edwards plays and 0-4 when he does not play or misses the majority of the game. Despite missing nearly half the season, Edwards ranks third in the CAA in overall receptions. He leads the league with eight receptions per game and ranks sixth in all-purpose yards per game with 102.5 yards. Quarterback Michael Strauss and the rest of the Richmond offense will certainly be glad to have Edwards back.
Keys to a Richmond victory:
1) Contain Omar Osbourne - Richmond will face another running back who averages over 100 rushing yards per game this week in Omar Osbourne. Osbourne is no Terrance West, but he is the focal point of the Great Danes' offense and he has lit up some defenses this year. Osbourne rushed for 252 yards and two touchdowns in Albany's sole victory over Colgate and he rushed for 142 yards and three touchdowns against Delaware. Albany does not have a strong passing offense, so slowing down Osbourne should put the Spiders in a good position to win.
2) Win the First Quarter - This game could be won in the first quarter. Both teams are desperate for a win and expect to win this game, but I could see either team losing its confidence if they are down early. The season is over halfway complete and both teams have had many disappointing losses. At some point these losses will take a toll on the players' mentalities. If Richmond can take an early lead, I think the Spiders will be able to use its momentum to never let the Great Danes come back. I think the opposite is possible as well, so a good first quarter from the Spiders is crucial.
1) Trick Plays - Coach Ford is not afraid to take gambles and use trick plays at any point in the game. Albany has successfully used three fake-punt plays in its last three games. The Great Danes have nothing to lose, so I would not be surprised to see a trick play from them at some point in the game when you least expect it.
Final Score - 30-13 Richmond - This is the week. I really feel it. Big games from Edwards and Stephen Barnette will end the Spiders losing streak and give Richmond its first conference win.
Contact staff writer Jack Nicholson at firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow him on twitter at @URJackNicholson
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