ALBANY — Coming off a close loss on the road, the University at Albany football program knows it needs a win this weekend at home.
“This is a huge football game, just like Bryant was two weeks ago,” UAlbany head coach Greg Gattuso said earlier this week of his team’s 3:30 p.m. Saturday matchup with Lafayette.
UAlbany won that game against Bryant 45-3, and the opportunity is there for the Great Danes to secure another much-needed victory this weekend at Tom & Mary Casey Stadium. Lafayette is 0-3 on the year and is coming off a 56-40 loss to Sacred Heart.
Gattuso didn’t label this weekend’s game as a “must-win” like he did before the Great Danes played Bryant, but the stakes for this contest are essentially the same as they were a couple weeks ago. If UAlbany wants to chase after a postseason spot this year, it cannot afford to lose a non-conference home game — or any home games, really.
“We need to come out of the gate strong,” UAlbany redshirt sophomore linebacker Danny Damico said.
In each of UAlbany’s first three games, doing that has been an issue for the Great Danes. UAlbany has been outscored 14-7 in first quarters this season, but has outscored opponents 94-65 besides that during its 1-2 start.
“We need to do that for four quarters,” Damico said.
The Great Danes won’t have wide receiver Dev Holmes against Lafayette, as the sophomore was suspended earlier this week. Gattuso didn’t commit to the suspension only lasting one game for the former Troy High School star, and the coach also didn’t comment on the reason for Holmes’ suspension.
“Not going to discuss internal,” Gattuso said. “This is a family thing. Between Dev and I.”
While Holmes starred early in his freshman year for UAlbany, this year’s early-season breakout star has been senior Juwan Green. The wide receiver had 15 receptions for 245 yards and three touchdowns in last week’s 38-35 overtime loss to Monmouth, as both he and redshirt freshman quarterback Jeff Undercuffler set or tied several program records.
“You can’t really guard No. 4,” Undercuffler said of the senior.
Last week, Undercuffler was 31 of 53 passing for 398 yards and four touchdowns. He also threw three interceptions and lost a fumble, but Gattuso said the positives from the outing outweighed the negatives for the young quarterback.
“I think he’s right on track,” Gattuso said of the development of Undercuffler, who has started UAlbany’s last six games.
After playing Lafayette, UAlbany hosts William & Mary to start CAA play the following weekend.
Collecting wins in both weeks is crucial for UAlbany, and fifth-year senior defensive lineman Nick Griffin said the Great Danes know that.
“We need a win to build up some momentum,” Griffin said.