This Saturday, the University of Rhode Island will welcome longtime rival Brown University to Meade Stadium for the 99th annual Governor’s Cup football game. In doing so, they hope to not only earn their first win of the season, but also snap the Bears’ four-game winning streak.
So far this season has been a struggle for the team in Jim Fleming’s first season. The Rams are giving up over twice as many yards on defense (574) as they are producing on offense (253). This is a trend that has followed URI in each of the last three meetings against their cross-state rivals. In 2010, URI was able to knock off Brown 27-24 in overtime.
In order to duplicate their success Saturday, there are a few things URI should try to do. Then-quarterback Steve Probst rushed for three touchdowns and 59 yards in the game, completed 57 percent of his passes and did not throw an interception. This was particularly important because Brown quarterback Kyle Newhall-Caballero threw two interceptions on the day. If Mack Lowrie can be similarly efficient or better, URI could look good against a Bears defense that has allowed just over 19 points a game.
Probst was assisted by equally strong efforts from running back Ayo Isijola and wide receiver Brandon Johnson-Farrell. Isijola rushed for 97 yards on 16 carries, averaging just more than six yards per play. Johnson-Farrell also made the most of when he had the ball, reeling in nine catches for 104 yards. Strong showings by current Rams, such as senior running back Lyle McCombs and Robbie Jackson, will be necessary to keep the game close. Brown allows 414 yards of offense a game, with 208.5 coming on the ground and 205.5 through the air.
Last week, the Bears allowed Harvard University’s leading rushers Paul Stanton and Andrew Casten to average over five and four yards per carry, respectively. Brown also struggled to stop Harvard quarterback Scott Hosch. Much like Probst three years ago, Hosch was efficient with a 70 percent completion percentage and threw one touchdown to no interceptions.
URI was assisted early in 2010’s win when cornerback Jarrod Williams blocked a punt that led to the first score of the game and a 7-0 Rams lead. URI could use a similar start as a boost for a defense that has already allowed more yards and points per game than a season ago. URI ranks 12th in the CAA in rushing defense and 11th in passing defense.
Despite their struggles, the season is still young and URI has plenty of time to improve. Sometimes rivalry games can also bring out the best in teams. Upsets such as Boston College over then-ninth-ranked USC proved that anything is possible once the game starts. This is why they play the game. Seeing as how this is a home matchup, fans can also assist by being rowdy and supportive of the Rams on Saturday.