UAlbany Great Danes Rise from Underdogs to CAA Contenders, Vaulted to #7 in FCS Nation Radio Top 25
Updated: Nov 7
During the preseason The Coastal Athletic Association coaches predicted that the University at Albany would finish 11th in the 15-team conference. Names like William and Mary, New Hampshire, Richmond, and Delaware were on the tongues of national prognosticators. The CAA had five teams ranked in the AFCA preseason poll and not surprisingly none were named UAlbany. You could not even find UAlbany on our FCS Nation Radio preseason Top 25 but from week five when the Great Danes entered the rankings, they have been slowly making their way towards the top of the rankings and after their 24-8 dismantling of the CAA preseason favorites, nobody can afford to sleep on them any longer. So they have vaulted from number 17 to seven in our latest Top 25.
(Photo credit: @UAlbanyFootball)
We all only have ourselves to blame for not giving this squad who is now 7-3 overall and sits atop of the CAA the credit they deserve earlier. They opened the season by holding a Fordham squad who averages over 30 points per game on the season to just 13 points. Then over the next two games in the fundraising portion of their schedule, they put a scare into Marshall who needed a fourth quarter touchdown to tame the Great Danes. They also had Hawaii in a fight until the fourth quarter when the Rainbow Warriors were able to put an insurance touchdown on the board.
A late fourth quarter interception doomed their comeback attempt at New Hampshire. They were only 35 yards away from forcing overtime on the road. A loss like that can sometimes derail a season and may have done just that to the Great Danes in previous seasons, but this year's squad showed their resiliency. They responded with a 35-10 win over Rhode Island where they raced out to a 28-3 lead in the first half and never looked back. They forced three turnovers to push back a feisty Maine squad and then held William and Mary scoreless for over three-and-a-half quarters en route to their victory.
(Photo credit: @UAlbanyFootball)
The UAlbany defense has been the catalyst for their success this season. They are 14th in the country in turnover margin. They are 16th in the country in total defense. They are holding opponents to 18.60 points per game. In the secondary they have 14 interceptions this season. Junior defensive back Aamir Hall led the team with four interceptions. The pass rush has amassed 33 sacks. The duo of senior defensive linemen Anton Juncaj has 11 sacks to lead the team and AJ Simon followed behind with 10.5 sacks. They led the way on the defense's aggressive attack. Senior linebacker Dylan Kelly is manning the middle of the defense with 121 tackles so far this season. They have held offenses at bay all season.
UAlbany DB Aamir Hall (Photo credit: @UAlbanyFootball)
UAlbany will be favored in the final two regular season games. This weekend they travel to Stony Brook to face the Seawolves who have not won a game this season. They finish the season at home against Monmouth who have had a disappointing season so far but will definitely look to clip the ears of the Great Danes. If they are able to finish the season strong, it will be interesting to see if the playoff committee gives them the seeding they deserve as a dominant CAA Champion. Other teams who have broken through and been rewarded with terrible draws in the playoffs.
Based on how they were judged preseason, they should be ready to be underestimated again!