The Rhode Island Rams had their first winning season since 2001 last year, but are having a bumpy ride this go round with a 1-4 record. Going into this year, they had two preseason all-conference picks: WR Aaron Parker and RT Kyle Murphy. They were picked to be better than W&M (2-5) and Richmond (2-3), which have both lost to ACC teams this year.
The Rams spend most of their time in 12 personnel (one RB, two TE/HBs) either under-center, traditional gun, or pistol. They’ll move to more spread-out and bunch looks in long yardage and when they’re behind. They run the same mélange of passing concepts as most everybody these days, with an emphasis on posts and slants; Tech needs to watch for the “Mills concept” (slot WR dig/outside WR post.) Their best run play looks like weak zone being bent back to the formation strength. As a big underdog against FBS Ohio (and eventual loser by a score of 41-20), they went for it on fourth-and-nine at the end of the first quarter, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see similar aggression against Tech.
QB Vito Priore (#17) puts the ball in play, but he’s inconsistent and doesn’t get a lot of speed on his throws. Blitzes unsettle him. He’s not afraid to exploit a big gap in the line for a scramble, but his running style is precarious.
Despite all that, he’s also got a QB rating of 149.2 and averages 343 yards a game. How? Rhode Island has a trio of really good receivers surrounded by mostly unimpressive FCS players. Aaron Parker (#6) is the headliner, but Isaiah Coulter (#8) and Ahmere Dorsey (#11) are right there with him. These guys can play, and each of them constantly bails Priore out of bad throws and 50/50 balls. Here’s a sample:
The receivers are also big parts of the run game. The first video is a Wildcat-ish formation with Dorsey at QB, and next is him on a jet sweep:
Moving to the other skill spots, top RB Zoe Bryant (#4) won’t scare anyone as long as defenders stay home; here’s him bending the zone on what looks like a schemed cutback: