Young cornerback Adderley shines for Blue Hens

Nobody is ready to start comparing Nasir Adderley to his famous cousin Herb Adderley just yet. But the freshman cornerback is starting to make a name for himself at Delaware (2-2 CAA, 3-4 overall), which plays a 2 p.m. Colonial Athletic Association football game at Towson (2-2, 4-3) on Saturday. (UD sports information/Mark Campbell)

Nobody is ready to start comparing Nasir Adderley to his famous cousin Herb Adderley just yet. But the freshman cornerback is starting to make a name for himself at Delaware (2-2 CAA, 3-4 overall), which plays a 2 p.m. Colonial Athletic Association football game at Towson (2-2, 4-3) on Saturday. (UD sports information/Mark Campbell)

NEWARK — Nasir Adderley wasn’t around to see his famous cousin play in person.

But the youngster has seen footage of Herb Adderley during his Pro Football Hall of Fame career.

The former Green Bay Packer defensive back’s skills are pretty obvious on film.

“His instincts, his ball skills,” said Nasir, describing his cousin’s attributes. “His ability to read the offense and break on balls was amazing.”

Nasir Adderley

Nasir Adderley

Nobody is ready to start comparing Nasir Adderley to Herb Adderley just yet.

But the freshman cornerback is starting to make a name for himself at Delaware (2-2 CAA, 3-4 overall), which plays a 2 p.m. Colonial Athletic Association football game at Towson (2-2, 4-3) on Saturday,

In the Blue Hens’ 31-14 win over New Hampshire on Saturday, the Wildcats kept going after Adderley. And the 6-foot, 185-pounder kept responding by knocking down four passes.

Adderley said, if opposing quarterbacks want to throw the ball his way, that’s fine with him.

“I love it,” he said. “I consider it a challenge. I want to show them I belong.

“It’s frustrating. The last couple games, I just felt like I had few opportunities to go get the ball — go attack it. I want some balls coming my way.”

Coach Dave Brock said Adderley has played well all season. But the reason he was credited with only two pass breakups in Delaware’s first six games may really just have been about opportunities.

Adderley also had six tackles in Saturday’s win.

“He had a lot more at-bats tonight in terms of the ball being thrown his way,” Brock said on Saturday. “He made a lot of plays.”

Besides the obvious differences in adjusting from high school to college football, Adderley is also playing a new position. He played safety in high school.

Adderley said he has to make sure his focus now is on the receiver, not trying to sneak a peek at what the QB is doing.

“At first I was like, ‘Whoa, wow, this is different,’” he said. “At first eye discipline was toughest on me. Playing safety, I liked to look all over the field, eyeing the quarterback, seeing where the ball is going. But, at this level, you’ve just got to focus on your man, do your job.
Plays will come — like they did.”

Adderley’s six pass breakups now lead the team.

When he needs to, Nasir knows he can also ask his cousin, Herb, for advice. He said he just talked to his cousin on Monday.

“We talk about life in general,” said Nasir. “He’s always checking on me, making sure I’m doing all right.

“He’s my role model. That’s the person I try to mold my game off of.”

Playing keep away

In an era when teams are throwing the ball all over the place, Brock loves the idea of just being able to play smash-mouth football.

“It’s demoralizing, I think, when somebody can run the football against you efficiently,” he said. “Because there’s not a lot you can do if you’re able to do it.”

The benefits of playing that style were pretty obvious again on Saturday.

Not only did the Hens outgain UNH, 284 yards to 50 on the ground, but they held a commanding 15-minute edge in time of possession. The Wildcats had the ball for just seven minutes in the second half.

And with the Wildcats still trailing by only 10 points in the fourth quarter, Delaware put together a back-breaking 18-play, 10-minute scoring drive that ended any UNH comeback hopes.

Now, not only are the Hens 11th nationally in FCS in rushing offense at 249.7 yards per game, but they’re fourth in time of possession at an average of 34:54 per game.

So while holding a big edge in time of possession can be deceiving, in Delaware’s case, it seems to be a really good thing.

“If they’re not on the field offensively, they can’t do a lot of damage if you take care of the ball,” said Brock. “I think that’s the way we’re really built to play right now.

“Philosophically what we’re trying to establish is a style of play — a mentality, a toughness,” he added. “And that takes everybody.”

Of course, keeping the opponents’ offense off the field also means that Delaware’s defense should be well rested.

“They’re doing a great job running the ball — that’s good for our defense,” said Adderley. “We get to sit down and take a break. We’re good.”

Letting the air out

On the other hand, the Hens’ average of only 74.6 passing yards per game ranks 122nd out of the 123 teams in FCS.

While Brock would like to have a more effective passing attack, he said that’s just not who Delaware is right now.

“I think sometimes balance is over rated,” he said. “Especially if you’re significantly better doing one thing than another.

“You have to make decisions based on who you are and how you play. We’re certainly going to take some shots (passing the ball). We’re going to have some things in the game that we think we’ll be able to execute. We’ll try to call them at the right time.

“Other than that, in order to be successful, we’re going to have to run the ball and certainly stop the run.”

The school record for lowest average passing yards in a season was the  51.3 yards Delaware averaged in 1960.

Extra points

Running back Thomas Jefferson was named the CAA Rookie of the Week after running for 98 yards and three TDs on 26 carries against UNH. … Kareem Williams (88.7 yards) and Jefferson (87.4) are sixth and seventh in the CAA in rushing. … Towson is receiving votes in the national FCS poll after knocking off No. 22 Villanova, 21-14, on Saturday.

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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