By Stone Freeman
KINGSTON, R.I. - What's better than this? A victory last Saturday and now a menu getting you ready for this Saturday. Pretty good, huh? Let's waste no more and dive back into Rhode Island football, shall we?
Ain't a neighborhood in Kingston that I can't go.
- On Saturday, Rhode Island heads to Blacksburg, Va. for a matchup with the ACC's Virginia Tech Hokies
- Kickoff is set for 4:01 p.m. and is available on the ACC Network and WatchESPN.
- Rhode Island enters the game 1-4, Virginia Tech enters 3-2
- This is the Rams second battle of the season with an FBS opponent
- Rhode Island fell 41-20 to the Ohio University Bobcats during their season opener on August 31
- Virginia Tech has hosted one other FCS team this season
- On September 14, the Hokies beat Furman 24-17
- The Rams and Hokies have squared off one other time in history
- Rhode Island fell 34-7 in the lone prior meeting on October 11, 1980
- Jimmy Carter was the President of the United States in October 1980
- Another One Bites the Dust by Queen and Don't Stand So Close to Me by the Police were both top five hits
- Rhode Island finished 2-9 that season in Bob Griffin's fifth year as Rams head coach
- URI picked up win number one of the season its last time out beating Brown, 31-28
- Virginia Tech is coming off its best win of the year, beating Miami 42-35 at Hard Rock Stadium last Saturday
- This will be Rhody's 12th meeting vs. a current ACC Football member school
- Only two of those 12 meetings came when one of the current members was in the ACC
- Rhode Island has faced Boston College seven times, Syracuse three times and Virginia Tech once
- In 2005 URI fell to the Boston College Eagles 42-0 in Darren Rizzi's lone season as Rams head coach
- In 2015 the Rams lost 47-0 inside the Carrier Dome in Syracuse vs. the Orange
Revisiting Aaron Parker's numbers vs. FBS competition
Aaron Parker has been brilliant this season. His back-to-back two-touchdown performances vs. Stony Brook and Brown are just two more accolades Parker can add to his CVS receipt-long résumé. With a matchup vs. Virginia Tech this weekend, Parker has another chance to prove he isn't just the best receiver in FCS football; he's one of the overall best in the nation. Here is a look at Parker's numbers when playing against FBS defenses:
- 2016 at the University of Kansas: 2 receptions, 37 yards, TD
- 2017 at the University of Central Michigan: 7 receptions, 69 yards, TD
- 2018 at the University of Connecticut: 7 receptions, 128 yards, TD
- 2019 at Ohio University: 9 receptions, 144 yards, TD
Parker shows up when the lights are the brightest. If those four games are any indication of what Saturday will be like, expect Parker to have another eye-popping performance. No matter who defenses line up against Parker, he can ball out.
Coulter is emerging right in front of our eyes
Understandably so, Parker's numbers have caught the eyes of most of the FCS football landscape. But over the past three weeks, his cousin has emerged as another dangerous weapon for Vito Priore. Isaiah Coulter has been one of the best wide receivers on the field over the past three games for URI. Here are his numbers:
- at New Hampshire: 10 receptions, 105 yards, TD
- vs. Stony Brook University: 5 receptions, 99 yards, TD
- at Brown: career-highs with 12 receptions, 171 yards, TD
That is three straight games that Coulter has scored, the longest streak of his career. Coulter's emergence has been key to Priore's success. Priore took home CAA Football Offensive Player of the Week this week after his performance vs. Brown. He completed 70 percent of his throws for 389 yards and three touchdown passes. It was his second straight game with three touchdowns and zero interceptions. Twelve of Priore's 31 completed passes vs. Brown went to Coulter. Over that same three game stretch, 31 percent of all of Priore's completions came to Coulter. Combine those numbers with the 21 completions Priore has had to Parker, 56 percent of his completions and all seven of Priore's touchdowns in that stretch come to his top two targets.
I'll take a scoop of… a battle with an ACC opponent
I find myself reading through URI athletic program record books at least once a day. I genuinely love the history of the school's programs and the little things that others might glance over and either never or see or never recognize. On Monday I dove into the Rhode Island football record book to find some info for this week's menu. I came across the first and only time we played Virginia Tech in 1980.
Next to "Virginia Tech" under the 1980 season of the record book is an asterisk. If your eyes follow to the bottom of that year's schedule another asterisk says, "Largest crowd to ever witness URI football game (40,100)." There is some history to Saturday's contest.
When an FCS school faces an FBS school you hear people come out of the woodwork to make comments. "Oh, they are playing with house money," some say. "How much are they getting paid to go down there and lose," others might add.
Does an opportunity like facing Virginia Tech give Rhode Island exposure? Absolutely. Does a paycheck come with the game? Yup. But to me it is deeper than that. It gives young men the chance to play in front of thousands of eyeballs and an adrenalin rush of a lifetime.
There are many that can say they have been to a big time college football game. But not many will ever say they played in a college football game. Period. The Rams play college football every Saturday from the last week of August until November or hopefully later. This Saturday will be a Saturday that will stand out in their memories. Not because of the score or outcome. Rather because they did something only a small percentage of people can say they did.