(video via TribeAthletics.com)
Following last weekend’s loss at Virginia Tech, William & Mary bounced back and showed signs of life all over the field, especially in the run game. There was a lot to like, but some things remain for the team to improve on before CAA play.
Offensively, the Tribe racked up a staggering 216 yards and FIVE touchdowns on the ground. Mikal Abdul-Saboor led the way with 18 carries for 107 yards and 3 touchdowns. True Freshman DeVonte Dedmon tacked on 42 rushing yards and Kendell Anderson added two rushing touchdowns of his own. Just like the Tribe’s game vs. Hampton last year, the run game carried the team to victory. The William & Mary offensive line was able to move the smaller Hampton defenders, create holes, and our running backs took full advantage.
Quarterback Steve Cluley, because of the Tribe’s success on the ground, was not asked to do much. Cluley played the game manager role in this one, but still impressed by continuing to show that he is not afraid to throw the ball downfield. In the first half, Cluley just missed on a deep ball to DeVonte Dedmon. Later in the game, Cluley would connect with Sean Ballard on a 52 yard completion, setting up the Tribe inside the Hampton five yard line. Overall, Cluley completed 9 of 16 passes for 135 yards, no touchdowns, and most importantly, no interceptions.
Hampton ran a west coast offense, consistently throwing the ball short and connecting on screen passes to both their running backs and to their wide receivers. Virginia Tech’s screen passes gave the Tribe some issues last week, but was somewhat excusable for W&M due to the very fact it was Virginia Tech, a powerful ACC team. And although William & Mary shut down Hampton’s offense for the most part in this game, Hampton was able to consistently execute a solid screen game throughout the night.
Hampton quarterback J.J. Williamson finished with 335 passing yards–the vast majority of which coming off of screen plays and short throws. Hampton’s Jorrian Washington took a Pirate short pass for 50 yards to the house in the 3rd quarter for Hampton.
Making an adjustment on defense for screen plays and designed short throws may be something the Tribe wants to work on before CAA play begins. Again, the Tribe only gave up 14 points, and if not for a couple big plays, it may even have been a shut out. Overall, Hampton’s offense didn’t move the ball efficiently and they were not able to get into any sort of sustained rhythm.
Mike Reilly and Airek Green both finished the game with two sacks apiece. This was great to see after the Tribe was not able to get much pressure on Virginia Tech quarterback Michael Brewer a week ago. The Tribe finished with 5 total sacks.
Side Note: For his efforts this week that included 2 sacks, a forced fumble and a blocked punt, Airek Green is one of this week’s CAA players of the week!
Up 17-0 in the first quarter after a scoring play, William & Mary surprisingly attempted an onside kick. Hampton recovered. We’re not exactly sure why the call was made, but we didn’t have a problem with it, seeing how well our defense was playing up to that point. In the second half, the Tribe’s do-it-all Airek Green was able to block a punt, with W&M recovering the ball inside the Hampton 5 yard line. John Carpenter connected on both of his field goal attempts and all of his extra point attempts, as he continues to build on his stellar start to the season. New Tribe punter Hunter Windmuller, who performed very well last week at Virginia Tech, only had two punts in the game (as the Tribe performed well offensively). Carpenter and Windmuller will contribute greatly to Tribe wins this year.
Unsurprising to most, wide receiver Tre McBride didn’t play in the game. He was dressed in full pads on the sideline, but is still not 100% from the ankle injury he sustained in the Virginia Tech game. Keeping a hobbling Tre McBride on the bench for the time being may be a good idea. If Tre were to play and get re-injured against Hampton, Norfolk State, or Lafayette before CAA games even begin, it would be an incredible loss for the Tribe. However, one positive is that DeVonte Dedmon got to play a lot in McBride’s absence, racking up 81 total yards of offense.
Around the CAA
Villanova pulled out an impressive win over Fordham, JMU barely escaped at Lehigh, and Stony Brook showed well at UConn. Aside from that, it’s interesting to note that Albany beat Central Connecticut State, a team that beat Towson (who made the FCS national championship last year) just last week. Has Towson really fallen that far? Only time will tell.
All in all, this was a very good bounce back game for the Tribe. Sticking to the offense’s bread and butter, the team put up 5 total touchdowns on the ground. Cluley did not turn the ball over. And the defense held Hampton to 14 points.
Fun Fact: After William & Mary’s loss to Virginia Tech last week 34-9, Virginia Tech beat #8 ranked Ohio State this week by a score of 35-21. The Tribe actually held the Tech offense to less points than Ohio State did. So by the transitive property, the Tribe’s defense might just be better than Ohio State’s…Just kidding. But hey, you never know!
The Tribe’s season opener at Zable Stadium is now less than a week away, versus Norfolk State. Let’s Go Tribe!!!