Towson Tigers: JMUSB CAA Football Preview #6
What a Towson Fan Might Say: Head Coach Rob Ambrose took over the Towson Tigers prior to last season with hopes of elevating the program to the level of the CAA’s elites. Rather than looking for a quick fix, Ambrose focused his efforts on building a program of his liking from the ground up. It might not be obvious from the final won-loss record, but Towson is headed in the right direction. The administration appears to fully support Towson football, as does the state of Maryland. Johnny Unitas Stadium is a great FCS facility, which has benefited from over $32 million of renovations recently and has an awesome high-def LED video display. The school is also nicely situated in the lovely Baltimore metropolitan area. On paper, these advantages have Towson well positioned to build a winner in the future.
The Cold Hard Facts: Towson sucked last year. I mean, the Tigers were just a terrible football team. The program might have some good things going for it, but the Tigers finished 2-9 last year and went 1-7 in the CAA. They lost by 50 points to UNH, by 20 to Northeastern, by 28 to Delaware and Richmond, by 31 to William & Mary, by 42 to Villanova, and by 31 to the Dukes. And those games weren’t “closer than they looked on paper”. They were blowouts. Week in and week out, at home and on the road, in day games and night games, the Tigers showed up, played football, and got absolutely crushed. I’ve never met Coach Ambrose, but he’d have to be one hell of an inspirational leader to convince a team that things are headed in the right direction after a season like that. Oh, and the “lovely Baltimore metropolitan area” I mentioned above? It’s awful. Absolutely awful.
What They Lose: The Tigers will need to make due without 8 starters from last year’s team, 4 on offense, 2 on defense, plus their kicker and punter. It’s worth pointing out that by definition all the players Towson loses were actually on last year’s horrific team. Therefore the Tigers are just replacing a bunch of guys who got blown out every week. That’s probably an easier mountain to climb than having to replace a bunch of All-CAA players. Heck, it’s probably easier than having to replace even marginally competent players.
What They Bring Back: Towson returns most of its leading skill players on offense. Skill players that helped the Tigers finish dead last in the CAA in total offense. Senior WR Hakeem Moore tied for the team lead with 28 receptions last year. He’s actually well rounded player who racked up the 3rd most all-purpose yards in the CAA last year with the talent to be a legit difference maker. Last season’s leading rusher, Tremayne Dameron is back and ready to build on the 8 TDs he scored last year. Towson’s defense was its strength last year. Relatively speaking of course, as it finished 3rd to last in the CAA in total defense. So, I guess it’s good that they bring back 9 guys on that side of the ball.
What It All Means: Until Towson starts winning some football games, the program will pretty much be known for its video board. (Ed. note – But what a video board it is!) I’d sincerely love it if they could capitalize on some of the positives in place and build a competitive program. I’ve enjoyed road games at Towson in the past and look forward to attending more JMU games there in the future. The stadium is nice and it’s got convenient tailgating set-up. Plus, I’ve found Towson fans to be welcoming to visitors and legitimately nice folks. They’re mostly from Baltimore, so they talk funny and have an odd affinity for camouflage pants, but they’re nice folks none the less.
JMUSB Prediction: If you’ve read this far, then it’s obvious I wasn’t too impressed with Towson’s play in 2009. I expect more of the same in 2010. Just for kicks though let’s say they follow up last season’s win over Coastal Carolina with another win against them this year, they win a road game at Columbia, and they manage to steal 1 or 2 CAA games. Just like that Tiger fans can crack open a Natty Boh and celebrate the 4-7 finish!