The University of Rhode Island football season has been a far from memorable one so far. The Rams (0-2) were dismantled in a 54-7 loss to Fordham and they have been outscored 102-14 in their first two games.
However, there is a silver lining. Though the scoreboard has shown otherwise, a few players for the Rams have been very impressive. Now that the team will be on display at home this weekend against Albany, here are some players to watch out for in the big home opener and throughout the year.
First is Tim Wienclaw, a versatile defensive back for the Rams who provides toughness and leadership. At 6-foot-1, he can challenge big receivers and use his strength to cover smaller, quicker players. The redshirt junior finished last season with 73 tackles in 12 games, and this year, he has picked up right where he left off. He already has 18 tackles on the season, putting him on pace for well over 100 tackles.
Wienclaw earned Defensive Back of the Week honors for his performance against Marshall, which included 11 tackles to go along with two forced fumbles and two fumble returns. Despite being routed by Fordham, Wienclaw had a solid start to the game, getting seven tackles, an interception and a forced fumble all during the first half. Despite his strong showing, the defensive back’s day ended early with an injury in the second half. While the severity of his situation is not known, a healthy Wienclaw can be a defensive juggernaut for the Rams.
The next player to watch out for this season is tight end Charlie McKeeman, a redshirt freshman who has scored both touchdowns on two receptions for 40 yards for the Rams this year. Standing at 6-foot-3 and weighing 240 pounds, he has the potential to make opposing defensive backs cringe. He could be a big red zone threat for Rhode Island this season, and a potential favorite target for transfer quarterback Mack Lowrie.
Lyle McCombs, transfer running back out of the University of Connecticut, rounds out the list. Like Wienclaw, he was another player with a strong performance in a losing effort, rushing for 98 yards on 22 carries against Fordham this Saturday. He showed potential for dominance, bursting through the seam for a 50-yard run against Fordham. McCombs is averaging 68.5 yards per game on the season, putting him on pace to handily surpass his total of 670 yards for the University of Connecticut last season.
McCombs did have trouble taking care of the ball against Fordham, though, losing two fumbles, despite one of them coming when the Rams were already down several touchdowns. The fact he has not tallied a touchdown yet isn’t an issue, as McCombs scored five times last season and the team has only entered the red zone four times thus far. Look for the Rams to go to him more in the red zone, as he is likely the safest offensive weapon on the team and a potent force on a previously anemic Rhode Island rushing game.