GoHens.net has teamed up with SpiderNation.com to bring both fan bases a closer look at each other - the fans! Here are our questions to them, followed by their questions and our answers.
GoHens: Do you feel the departure of your long-time defensive coordinator and two all-conference defensive ends is going to bring about any major changes in your defensive gameplan this year?
SpiderNation: There are some expected minor tweaks this season, mostly in the amount and type of blitzs we run. The word is to expect more of it. I think as the Coaches gain confidence in the new DE's we will fall back into our former pattern. I think we have three good DE's on the squad this season with Seniors Turner and Battle, backed up by Junior Abramowitz. Even though we lost our DC Huesman remember that Head Coach Mike London is a defensive guy.
GoHens: Which team do Spider fans feel benefits the most from this being an early season matchup?
SpiderNation: The fans seem to feel UR will benefit more from this early season matchup. Delaware is a storied program and last year was an anomaly, nobody expects a repeat. You guys were pretty beaten up by the time we played and still the score did not indicate some of the good things you did, especially on the defensive side of the ball. If you can improve your defense and click on offense it could be a dogfight to the end. SpiderNation fans are happy to be meeting you early, before Devlin and crew get things flowing smoothly.
GoHens: With the departure of Vaughan and the development of Eric Ward, it seems the Spiders are putting more emphasis on the passing game. Grayson is an obvious threat. What are the strengths and weaknesses of Spider's offense and what should we look for?
SpiderNation: We have at least six threats to catch and run. Grayson gets the most press but Mitchell, Gray, Mayfield and Boston have been brilliant at times. At Duke we did not utilize the TE's much but I expect that will change at some point in the season as it has been a major portion of our offense. The RB's were a pleasant surprise to many against Duke, because they are so much smaller than we are used to. But both Forte and Kirchoff showed the ability to push the pile. We're still looking at the running game as the major weakness on the offensive side because we were spoiled by back to back power backs in Hightower and Vaughan.
GoHens: With our last meeting in Newark being that incredible 5-OT classic in 2007, How many Spider fans will be making the trip to Newark this year?
SpiderNation: I wasn't able to make the '07 trip but I'm told there were only about 300 Spider fans present. This time I am told there may be as many as 1,000 Spider fans.
GoHens: Special Teams may be a differentiator in this game. It's sounds like your kicker has a big leg on kickoffs. Our kicker is accurate, but in our opener, the kickoffs were not getting deep. How would you compare the UD vs. UR special teams?
SpiderNation: We have been pleased with our kickers. Radford, the punter doesn't always have the deepest punts but there seems to be a reason. His longer kicks sometimes out kick the coverage and have bad results. But he has one of the best "net punt" averages in the Conference. Radford has been doing most of the kickoffs recently and has been consistently been getting inside the ten. Howard is not likely to kick a 50 yarder but has been one of the most accurate kickers we've ever had. We have not been real satisfied with the coverage side of our kicks as we have had few no or very short gains. I expect the staff will work on that this week.
GoHens: Has the move for other sports to the A-10 been a success, in the fans' view? Do they miss the meaningful conference rivalries with VCU, ODO, JMU, W&M?
SpiderNation: The answer to this would depend on who you asked. The younger and northeastern fans would do not see these as our rivals. Some of the older and Virginia or close by based fans would prefer the present CAA. I speculate that if the present format was in place at the time we left the CAA we may not have left. Right now I think most fans feel we have the best of both worlds. CAA football is the best, especially in the South. In men's hoops we are still trying to play VCU, W&M, ODU and JMU as often as possible. (We have played VCU every year and ODU almost every year, we are trying to get JMU and W&M to play us every or almost every year.) So the games are still exist for the local fans. The A-10 has had greater success than the CAA in placing hoops teams in the NCAA as at-large. For UR's interest we hope that continues. With the NCAA committee granting fewer non-BCS at large bids that may soon be a real problem for all non-BCS Conferences. Most think football will drive any future conferences changes, with our size we may be more driven by where our basketball team will play. We hope the core of the CAA chooses to stay at this level of football for the playoffs and does not choose to go up so they can play in some meaningless Bowl.
SpiderNation: Hen fans seem to be excited about the prospect of improvments this season, what will be the biggest changes?
GoHens: Without question, the biggest change from last year is the addition of Pat Devlin at quarterback. Last year's 8 losses were the most by any Hen team - ever. The reason is because we lacked a good QB who could throw the ball and we became 1-dimensional. As the season progressed, our opponents quickly figured this out. Pat showed some real nice touch on the ball in our opener and his future looks bright. We now have a passing game. Whether it's ready for the Spiders, we'll have to wait and see.
SpiderNation: Richmond at Delaware could be a critical game for both teams in the hotly contested CAA South, does either team benefit from the early season match-up, and if so why?
GoHens: I specifically brought this up on GoHens.net during the preseason. I thought the early meeting benefitted the Spiders more. Obviously UD has a lot of room for improvement from last season than UR! That improvement will come as the season progresses, so I give the edge to the Spiders there as the UD offense still needs to gel a bit more. Some others on the site felt that it benefitted UD to get this game early while the Spiders were still trying to adjust after losing players (like Vaughn) to graduation. UD is adjusting too, but we're both in the same boat at least. The crowds at Delaware Stadium tend to be a little bigger and more vocal in September while the weather is still nice, so that might be a slight factor as well.
SpiderNation: What are the major offensive strengths and weaknesses for the Hens this season?
GoHens: I don't know how much Keeler was trying to hide from London in our first game. We ran a very vanilla offense. Judging from what we saw, the strengths were the passing game and pass blocking. The weakness was the inside running game. We have a number of RB's that we are trying out. Also, we found out yesterday after MRI results, that we lost our starting TE Josh Baker, who was named a preseason All-American by the College Sporting News and was looking to have a huge season. That was a big blow.
SpiderNation: What are the major defensive strengths and weaknesses for the Hens this season?
GoHens: Defense in general is a team strength. That developed last year (believe it or not, we actually had a real good D last year that all too often just got left on the field too long because of our weakness on Offense). Of the 3 groups, the secondary is the probably the strongest. Many are saying this is the best Delaware defense we've had in a long time. Anthony Walters (#9) at CB and Charles Graves (#30) at safety are both College Sporting News preseason All-Americans and players to watch.
SpiderNation: What do Hen fans see as the key match up for this game?
GoHens: UR offense vs. Hen defense. Our O is not that strong yet. We'll need our D to keep us in the game and hopefully keep it low scoring. If it ends up a track meet like the last time UR came to Newark (a classic game by the way), that would not be good for us at this point.
SpiderNation: There has been much chatter about the Blue Hens making a move to the FBS, would Hen fans support this move?
GoHens: From what I've seen, there's about a 60/40 split on this issue among Hen fans with the majority favoring the move to FBS. But I think all agree that the playoff format is best. If FBS ever adopted it, I think a bunch of UD fans would really make a lot of noise over the issue. As things are now, it's very nice to be nationally competitive almost every year. We have a great thing going with the CAA and the CAA South in particular is incredibly strong. Along with UR, VU, and WM FBS victories this past weekend, JMU meets Maryland and UD travels to Navy later in the year. We could potentially have 5 FBS skins just in the CAA South.