I was able to have a Q/A with Rich from TheFightingHens.com to learn a little bit more about Pitt's week one opponent. TheFightinHens is a great website devoted to Delaware athletics, and Rich does a very good job. You'll have to watch for my responses to some of his questions sometime this week. You can give him a follow on Twitter to hear their side of the story for Saturday's game.
1. First things first - Delaware is led by quarterback Trent Hurley. He is a local guy that played in nearby Greensburg, PA for GCC. How has he done in his career so far for Delaware, and what kind of expectations does he have this year?
It was hard to judge Hurley his first year under center (2012) at Delaware because the offensive line was our weakest area. But we did learn the kid is a fighter, he took a lot of hits that season but he’d brush himself off and get back after it the very next play. Trent is tough. In 2013, Dave Brock was the new head coach, which meant new system, new everything. Hurley responded well. UD’s offense played very well, but against tough competition Hurley "tried to make something outta nothin" too often. For 2014, I’m expecting Trent to show that senior QB seasoning of -- take what the defense gives you and reserve "hero ball" for only when it’s really needed. Hurley is gonna be a serious threat with the arm and legs this season, but more importantly, he’ll have the confidence of knowing the system and his teammates to lead UD to big wins. For this PITT game, I’m sure he’ll be amped up playing in front of friends/family.
2. Michael Johnson seems like an exciting player for the Blue Hens offense, what kind of player is he?
Michael Johnson is BCS talent playing for FCS Delaware. He was receiving SEC interest his junior season in HS before suffering a knee injury which cost him his senior season. Delaware was lucky to get him. He’s got good hands to compliment his speed and size. Johnson is a real threat after the catch to take it the distance. Also, he’s made a serious difference in games on KO returns. He’ll be playing in an NFL camp next summer. In fact, local reporter Kevin Tresolini reported that a Falcons scout was at a UD practice the other day, likely to watch WR Michael Johnson and TE Nick Boyle. Oops! ...probably shouldn’t have mentioned our red zone threat Nick Boyle.
3. Delware is ranked among the top 25 teams in the FCS by some publications. Are they for real? Can they win the Colonial?
For quite a while now, the CAA has been considered the SEC of FCS football. So a school has got to be deep and hitting on all cylinders to contend for the CAA title. I’m not convinced UD will win the CAA title, but maybe we squeeze into a playoff berth (love playoffs, hate bowls!) this season. The Blue Hens defense was borderline embarrassing in 2013 and we lost two guys that are now in NFL camps in DT Zach Kerr (Indianapolis) and DB Travis Hawkins (New England). The UD offense may drop 35 points on a team, but I’m worried the defense may give up 36.
I can’t speak for the entire UD fan base, so I’ll give my point of view. In a perfect world, I wouldn’t want to play any BCS teams. Here’s why: 1) It’s usually a mismatch, and the greater chance of injury goes to the smaller school, which could jeopardize our season 2) A win against a BCS school is great for rankings in FCS but may have us lose focus and drop a game against a lesser team before conference games begin 3) Since there is an FCS Playoff system, it’s better to play nothing but FCS teams to bolster your record to get into the playoffs (think NCAA hoops selection committee). But yes, there are benefits to playing BCS schools: 1) TV time in major cities, which is really good for recruiting and pumping up the fan base, especially if you win 2) CASH MONEY – yeah, us FCS schools need that because we don’t have the huge bowl/TV deals the BCS schools have, so that cash comes in handy when building facilities and such.
He’s a SUPER BOWL MVP … not even Dan Marino has done that. So he’s very appreciated in the tiny ole’state of Delaware. By the way, how cool would it be (for UD fans) if Joe Flacco showed up on the Delaware sideline for next Saturday’s game? I’m sure that would cause quite a stir for the local Pitt media.
Ha, just poking some fun in last answer … a win for UD would be spectacular but more important for us is getting outta Pennsylvania healthy. Football is back!
I would like to thank Rich for his great insight on Delaware, and share some of his thoughts - Football is back! It has been a long season, whether Pitt opens with Delaware of Florida State, it's good to be back. Be sure to check out my answers on TheFightinHens.com, and look out for the Delaware fans this weekend and show them a good time, I think a few will be making the trip to the 'Burgh.