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Albany Makes Noise in First Two Outings of 2023

The Great Danes have shown grit and toughness over their first two games.

NCAA Football: Albany at Baylor Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The first week of the 2023 FCS season is in the books and we've learned a lot from several teams around the subdivision. Arguably no group, however, has taught us more over the past eight days than Albany. Yes, of the many, many programs that suited up and played this last weekend, it's the Great Danes who made some ripples and they’ve done so for all the right reasons.

Unlike many teams, Albany has actually played two games already this year after having the honor of teeing it up in Week 0. With a pair of contests under their belt now, the Great Danes have made one thing clear; they are going to a problem this season. CAA beware.

On Saturday night when the final whistle sounded in Huntington, WV, Marshall fans were breathing a sigh of relief. The Thundering Herd defeated this very Albany squad but it took every ounce of effort they could muster up. For four quarters, the Herd couldn't shake their opponents from New York and the 21-17 final was a testament to the kind of team head coach Greg Gattuso has.

Led by sensational sophomore quarterback Reese Poffenbarger, the Great Danes have impressed to start 2023. In Week 0, Poffenbarger threw for four touchdowns and no picks in a big 34-14 win over a Fordham team that made the playoffs last fall. Albany outgained the Rams 399 yards to 235 and put the CAA preseason voters on notice. That 11th place ranking they received certainly seems as though it's not too well-founded.

Saturday evening's showing against Marshall, however, all but cemented that idea. Yes, the Great Danes lost but it was about as a respectable of a loss as they come. After leading the Herd until well into the fourth quarter, Albany had its chance to pull off a stunner. A couple of bad sacks put those dreams to bed but the message was sent all the same.

A common thread in both games so far has been the Great Danes' ability to control the ball. They have yet to turn the ball over and have held possession for over 30 minutes each time. That alone is a formula for success and if they can continue with that trend, they'll be in most every game they play this fall.

Guys like Poffenbarger and running back Nate Larkins have ignited an offense that shapes up to be really good this year. Larkins has rushed for 108 yards while Poffenbarger has thrown for 447 and five scores. On defense, Dylan Kelly is tearing it up. He posted 12 tackles against the Herd last week, enough to lead the defense by long shot.

The makings of a really solid team are there for the Great Danes right now and it's reason to be excited if you're a fan. Poffenbarger is picking up right where he left off last year; a run that earned him CAA Offensive Rookie of the Year accolades. It's very likely this team doesn't finish near the bottom of the conference like many speculated earlier on. Time will tell but as of now, this is a group that has, or should have, caught some eyes.

Albany will get its second FBS test next weekend when it travels to Hawaii.