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Governor McKee hosts press conference to promote Governor's Cup

Representatives of Brown and URI football attend conference as teams prepare for Saturday's matchup

In advance of Saturday’s Governor's Cup showdown between the Brown and University of Rhode Island football teams, Governor Dan McKee hosted a press conference outside the Rhode Island State Capitol Tuesday afternoon to promote the event. Brown Head Coach James Perry '00 and URI Head Coach Jim Fleming also spoke at the press conference.

Multiple players from each team, including Brown's Allen Smith '22, EJ Perry GS and William Such '22, were in attendance. McKee was presented with custom Brown and URI football jerseys as part of the conference. The Governor's Cup will take place Saturday at 12:30 p.m. at Brown Stadium on the newly renovated Richard Gouse Field. 

"The state of Rhode Island is so proud of the examples that our coaches and our players represent," McKee said. "As a Rhode Islander I'm just proud to have two exciting, elite football teams right here in our backyard. For me, it's not about the wins and losses, it's about the spirit of the competition."

Brown (0-0) will bring a veteran roster to their season opener against URI, but the Rams will present a stern test to the Bears. URI (2-0) started its season red-hot with a dominant 45-21 victory over Bryant University, followed by a gritty road win over University at Albany. In addition, the Bears have not defeated the Rams since 2017. In the rivals' most recent matchup, URI won 31-28 at Brown Stadium. Bruno will need continued production from its offensive stars and an improved performance from its defensive unit to reverse that result. 

"Rhode Island is 2-0. They're a terrific squad," James Perry said, acknowledging URI as an FCS championship-caliber team. "This is the type of challenge that's in front of us. This is the type of challenge that we love to have."

Still, Perry is optimistic about the Bears' potential in the Governor's Cup due to the improvements his team has made in the two years since their last game. "When I took over the (Brown football) program a couple years ago, building the roster was my number one priority. Literally, building the roster size," Perry said at the press conference. "We have done that… we're a much deeper and larger team."

Perry also commended his players for improving their conditioning despite the COVID-19 restrictions of the past year and a half. "When we reported in August (for training camp), I was really pleased to see our team come back deeper, stronger and a little bit faster," he said.

Fleming also recognized the improvements to his Rams squad and URI as a whole. "The development of our football program has been representative of what's happening down there in Kingston," he said. "The people that have gone away for some time and then come back down to campus have recognized an incredible evolution of the university in terms of the structures, the buildings, the programs — everything has been on an upgrade. One of our goals as a football program is to represent the university as it is, as a school of excellence."

The 2021 Governor's Cup will have a veteran flair, as both teams took advantage of changes to collegiate eligibility rules to bring older players back for another year of competition. Brown will bring back 12 fifth-year student-athletes this season, including quarterback EJ Perry. Coach James Perry thanked those student-athletes for showing their commitment to the football program by returning for an extra year. "It's really remarkable for (EJ Perry) and his classmates to look at the program, the state we were in — those guys were 1-20 in the Ivy League (from 2017-2019) — and say, 'I think this thing is going somewhere,'" James Perry said. 

The Governor's Cup is especially familiar to James Perry, as he competed in it as Brown's quarterback during his undergraduate years. "I have a great attachment to this game, having played in it, having been an assistant in it," he said. Perry will look to guide Bruno to a victory this weekend in the newest chapter of this historic rivalry.



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