It’s been a while. Thirteen years to be exact.
That’s the last time Albany started the season 4-0.
Fresh off a 42-7 clobbering of Columbia, the Great Danes are rolling and making those in the FCS take notice. They are the lone undefeated team in the Colonial Athletic Association.
With their hot start, Albany moved up nine spots this week and sit at BR-64 with a Heat Score of 95.
A stingy defense and a punishing rushing attack have been key. The Great Danes forced five turnovers against Columbia and sacked quarterback Brett Nottingham four times. In a 37-20 win over Rhode Island, the Albany defense had three takeaways in the opening half alone. They shut out Central Connecticut State and have only allowed a total of 40 points over the first four games.
On offense, the rushing attack is averaging 212.5 yards per game. Senior Omar Osbourne has led the way with 135.2 yards per game and two touchdowns. Osbourne rushed for 193 yards and his two scores on just 15 carries in the win over Columbia.
“We kind of have to play a team kind of deal, because I don’t think we can get out here and run and gun with people,” first-year coach Greg Gattuso told the Portland Press Herald. “We’re kind of old-fashioned in how we play. They all understand that we have to feed off each other.”
Some still may question if Albany is for real or not, and rightfully so. They may have outscored opponents 112-40 over the first four, but the schedule, perhaps, wasn’t all that challenging. The Great Danes have beaten Holy Cross, Central Connecticut State, Rhode Island and Columbia. Those opponents are a combined 4-12 and none are inside the BR Top 100.
Well they will certainly get a chance to prove themselves Saturday when they host BR-46 James Madison. A perennial power that won an FCS title in 2004, the Dukes will be hungry coming off a loss to Delaware.
“I don’t really get into calling it a ‘soft’ schedule,” Gattuso said. “I think our kids have worked hard to get better and I think they’ve played good teams. Really, the last three weeks we’ve easily handled our opponents and we’ve gotten better. We’re going to have a hard time easily handling opponents going forward, but the big thing is to me they’re gaining confidence, and I think they believe in each other, which is big.”