UAlbany Football 2018 Season in Review

by Ryan McCarthy, BBM Staff Writer
The UAlbany Great Danes entered 2018 looking to take a great leap forward. But injuries and inconsistent play on both sides of the ball beleaguered the Great Danes and UAlbany finished with a 3-8 overall record and 1-6 in CAA conference play.
There were plenty of positives and negatives that happened for UAlbany during the 2018 season, but there is a lot to look forward to going into 2019.
The biggest positive in 2018 was the production of the underclassmen. On offense, it was the Dev Holmes show through the first four weeks of the season. Holmes was a two-time high school state champion with Troy High School and elected to play his college in the Capital District. His breakout game was the home opener against Morgan State when he finished with 238 yards, including an 88-yard touchdown reception to win the game. Though his numbers tailed off for the remaining seven games of the season (138 yards in the final seven games after starting the season with 596), Holmes still lead the Great Danes with 50 receptions for 734 yards and five touchdowns. He also threw a 54-yard touchdown against Richmond. RB Karl Mofor followed last year’s freshman campaign with another solid performance in 2018. The sophomore running back ran for 602 yards and five touchdowns while catching 23 passes out of the backfield for 198 yards and two touchdowns.
On defense, it was almost a necessity that underclassmen play due to injury. Three underclassmen were the top tacklers for the Great Danes in 2018: sophomore LB Levy Metheny lead the team with 92 total tackles (9.5 for loss) to go with a sack and two interceptions. Freshman LB Danny Damico was second on the team with 81 total tackles and started eight games. Freshman DB AJ Mistler started six games and tied for third on the team with LB Eli Mencer with 58 total tackles. He also got his first collegiate interception against Towson. On the line, freshman DL Anthony Lang contributed five tackles for loss, finished second on the team with four sacks, and tied for the team lead with six quarterback hurries.
On the flip side, two factors, namely inconsistency and injuries, contributed to their poor record. On offense, sacks and turnovers plagued the Great Danes. The offensive line surrendered 35 sacks, their worst performance being at New Hampshire when they gave up seven sacks. Collectively, the Great Danes quarterbacks threw 18 interceptions with Vincent Testaverde throwing 11. Throughout the season, the first half was the worst scoring half as the Great Danes would be outscored 209-115. Inconsistency wasn’t conditional to only the offense: the defense also had the propensity to give up long scoring plays of over 20 yards. Their ability to finish off their opponents in close games was also suspect, particularly against William and Mary (up 19 in the second half only to lose by 3), Richmond (surrendered the game-winning field goal in the final seconds), and Delaware (surrendered the game-winning touchdown with less than a minute remaining). Chalk up the inconsistent play to inexperience on both sides of the ball.
Injuries also afflicted the Great Danes throughout the season. DB Hayden Specht and Josh Wynn were forced out of the lineup during the first half of the season, which forced head coach Greg Gattuso to play Mistler. LB Nevin Sussman, who switched from quarterback to linebacker in the offseason, suffered a hand injury, which forced Damico to play in his place. Testaverde hurt his ankle and backup QB Wil Brunson suffered a concussion against Maine. This forced the debut of freshman QB Jeff Undercuffler, who completed the game against Maine and started the final three games of 2018.
All in all, those underclassmen who played throughout this season will have the opportunity to contribute in 2019. On offense, this was the first season under offensive coordinator Joe Davis and players like Holmes, Mofor, and Undercuffler are expected to make bigger dividends next season. On defense, the Great Danes will have a stout group of linebackers and secondary returning in 2019, but three starters on the line will be graduating this year and it’s the next man up in that regard.
Nevertheless, it’s onward and the hope to go upward for the Great Danes in 2019.

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