Delaware's two Division I football teams will meet on the field for the 9th time at Delaware State travels to the University of Delaware Thursday night.
WHAT: Delaware State (3-8 in 2018) vs. No. 22 Delaware (7-5) - 7:00 p.m. at Delaware Stadium in Newark.
HISTORY FAVORS THE BLUE AND GOLD: Delaware is 8-0 all-time against the Hornets, with all the games taking place in Newark. The schools recently signed to extend the series into the next decade, with the first meetings between the schools in Dover coming in 2024 and 2025. Games in Newark will take place in 2026, 2027, and 2029, with a 6th meeting in 2030 going to the school with the best record in those 5 meetings... The closest game to date was the 2009 game that Delaware won 27-17, every other win has come by at least 18 points.
FIRST STATE BLUE HENS: Delaware has four First State products listed as starters: sophomores Kedrick Whitehead (Middletown-Safety) & Jake Reed (Caravel-Long Snapper), and juniors Frank Burton (William Penn-Defensive End), & Chichi Amachi (William Penn-Wide Receiver)
FIRST STATE HORNETS: Delaware State one-ups the Blue Hens with 5 Delawareans in the staring lineup: freshman Brandon Shimko (Hodgson-Long Snapper), sophomores Jawain Granger (Caravel-Defensive Back) & Brooks Parker (Delmar-Linebacker), junior Dwight Chavis (Hodgson-Center), and senior Nigel Bynum (Mount Pleasant-Cornerback)
GOOD FINISH EARNS THE START: DelState QB Shayne Smith earns the start after throwing 3 touchdowns in their season-ending win over Virginia-Lynchburg last season. It wrapped up a run of 3 wins in 4 games after starting 0-7. Smith figures to be pushed by 6'5" true freshman Tylik Behea who starred at Brooklyn's Abraham Lincoln High School.
NEW LOOK OFFENSE: Thursday marks the debut for Delaware offensive coordinator Jared Ambrose, who came to Delaware after spending 10 years on the staff of his brother Rob at CAA-rival Towson. The Blue Hens figure to play with an increased pace with a potential 7-8 player rotation at receiver and 2-4 running backs expected to see time.
THEY'LL NEED TO CATCH UP: Delaware said goodbye to their 4 leading receivers last year, who caught 125 of the team's 165 completions in 2018... This year's starters are WRs Gene Coleman (9 catches in 2018), Thyrick Pitts (2), and William Penn's Chichi Amachi (0), plus TE Bryce De Maille (3/1TD)
HORNETS DEFENSE STRONG IN THE MIDDLE: MLB Brian Cavicante was named the MEAC's Preseason Defensive Player of the Year after collecting 89 tackles (17 for loss), a half-sack, and 2 fumble recoveries last season. Behind him is free safety Jahad Neibauer, who intercepted 3 passes while still getting 70 tackles (7 for loss). They'll need to slow down the Delaware offense.
GET YOUR TURNOVERS: Delaware State was a -9 in turnover margin last season, while Delaware was +1. With an inexperienced secondary and linebacker corps, Delaware would like to try to limit the pressure on their defense.