In the latest FCS STATS rankings that were released this past Monday, the Rhode Island Rams football team moved up two spots to No. 23. It seems strange that the Rams would move up in the rankings after a 56-49 shootout loss to FBS opponent UConn this past Saturday. With three games down in the 2018 campaign it’s time to ask: are the Rams for real?
The answer to this question is quite simple, yes. After two eye-opening wins and an impressive losing effort against an FBS team, these Rams have shown they have the potential to play with the best in the FCS.
The Rams were picked to finish last in the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) preseason coaches poll. This seemed improbable considering URI had beaten several teams ahead of them last year and several key players were returning, including starting quarterback JaJuan Lawson and standout wide receiver Aaron Parker. Rhody was given very little credit to turn this program around, but have opened eyes after the first three games.
Rhody has been able to get off to such a hot start thanks in large part to the explosive offense Lawson has led. The California native has won CAA Offensive Player of the Week twice in three weeks. Lawson has thrown four touchdowns in back-to-back weeks against Albany and the University of Connecticut. He also has thrown for 838 yards and has tossed nine total touchdowns so far in this young season.
The real gem of this offense lies in the wideouts of this Rams squad. Lawson has the luxury of returning his number one target Aaron Parker who has been a reliable catch so far this year. Parker has hauled in 19 catches for 309 yards and has reached paydirt twice. Alongside Parker is redshirt senior and Rhode Island native Marven Beauvais. Beauvais made an incredible catch in the home opener against Albany for the first score of the game. The emergence of sophomore Isaiah Coulter has made this offense even scarier as the Florida native has had back-to-back 100 yard games.
Lastly, the anchor of this team is in the trenches on both sides of the ball. The offensive line is one that is filled with experience and dependability. The line, anchored by senior Dwayne Scott, has a combined 67 starts between the five of them. The men in the trenches have the ability to dominate the point of attack on any given Saturday.
On the other side of the ball, the defensive line has been wreaking havoc on opposing quarterbacks. Led by Brandon Ginnetti, who had seven sacks last year and was selected as part of the preseason all CAA team, this defensive line has gotten pressure and made it a tough day at the office for any quarterback.
In just three short games these Rams have shown they are not the same team as years past. Rhody is just one win away from matching last years win total but they have higher expectations than just three wins. Expect Rhody to continue to open eyes as they look to take on Harvard next week. The team that was picked to finish last currently is sitting at the top and has no plans to let up.