Preview: #12 William & Mary @ Stony Brook

via espn.com
via espn.com

The Tribe is coming off a three game win streak, pulling up the record to 3-1. Last week, the team was able to overcome a sloppy first half and score 24 unanswered points to put Lafayette away. This week, W&M will take on Stony Brook, in what will begin the Tribe’s CAA slate this season.

Last Meeting with the Tribe: This will be the first ever meeting between the Stony Brook Seawolves and the William & Mary Tribe. Stony Brook’s program began playing football in 1983 and the Tribe began their program way back in 1893 (90 years earlier!).

Stony Brook joined the CAA last season, finishing with a 5–6 (3–5 CAA) record. Stony Brook’s three CAA wins came against Rhode Island, Albany, and James Madison.

Stony Brook this Year: The Seawolves are currently 1-3, with losses coming against Bryant, UConn, and North Dakota. Their lone win came against American International–a small liberal arts college in Massachusetts. To be fair, Stony Brook played up to par against an FBS opponent in UConn, falling by a score of 19-13.

The story of this year’s Stony Brook team is their defense. This team knows how to attack offenses; Stony Brook currently ranks among the FCS elite in several defensive categories, as noted by the following statistics:
Screen Shot 2014-09-24 at 7.32.42 PMShown above, Stony Brook currently ranks #1 in the FCS nationally for Total Defense. The team also ranks as the #4 Passing Defense, #6 Scoring Defense, and the #11 Rushing Defense.  In short, this defense is good all around. This will be an incredible test for William & Mary’s offense, as the Tribe will face what may be the best defense in the CAA in the team’s very first conference matchup.

On the offensive side of the ball, Stony Brook, like William & Mary, is a team committed to the run. The Seawolves average 134.5 rushing yards per game compared to the Tribe’s 142.5 a game. Through the air, Stony Brook hasn’t fared so well, as the team only averages 123.8 passing yards a game–in much the same vein, W&M only averages 139.8 passing yards a game. In short, this Stony Brook team will try to establish a run game early and often this weekend. You can check out the various statistical rankings on your own right here!

Stony Brook’s Players to Watch: 

Stony Brook Defensive Back Naim Cheeseboro vs. UConn (via Associated Press)
Stony Brook Defensive Back Naim Cheeseboro vs. UConn (via Associated Press)

On Stony Brook’s highly touted defense, the team features a stacked defensive backfield. Three backs stand out: #22 Naim Cheeseboro, #39 Christian Ricard, and #25 Max Martinez. These three defensive backs have led the Stony Brook defense to their #1 Total Defense ranking. Cheeseboro currently leads the team with interceptions (2), Ricard, in the “rover” role, leads the team with a staggering 32 tackles and FIVE sacks, and Martinez has the second most tackles on the team (25). This trio is Stony Brook’s bread and butter; if they’re on top of their game, it will be hard for William & Mary’s offense to move the ball.

Thankfully on the Seawolves’ offense, it’s a different story as their quarterback situation is unsettled. One of Stony Brook’s quarterbacks is a Syracuse graduate and transfer (with one season of collegiate eligibility left), #11 John Kinder. Kinder has only thrown one touchdown pass while throwing 3 interceptions on the year. His backup, #16 Conor Bednarski has played in relief, but hasn’t done much better. Kinder, this week’s listed starter, is known as the more mobile of the two, while Bednarski is currently viewed as more of a pocket passer. Regardless, this is currently one unit of weakness on this year’s Stony Brook team.

Thankfully for the Seawolves, these quarterbacks have a couple serious weapons alongside them on offense. Sophomore running back, #21 Stacey Bedell averages 99.7 yards a game, while also averaging 5.5 yards per carry to boot. Lining up with Bedell is a 6’3” 260 pound transfer tight end from Florida State in #44 Will Tye. Tye, a senior, has torn up opposing secondaries so far this season, and he currently leads the team in receiving with 203 yards and one touchdown. He is a matchup nightmare for linebackers and defensive backs, and will challenge the Tribe on Saturday.

Tribe Keys to Victory:

  • Show us what you got, Tre McBride! Tre is one of the superstars on this year’s Tribe offense, and it’s time for him to show what he can do against top competition. He’s done it before against teams like West Virginia. I see Tre stepping up and having a big game in this one.
  • Keep the Stony Brook defense honest. This can be done with Steve Cluley’s newfound running ability. Keep the defense on their toes, constantly guessing between run and pass. This will greatly help Cluley gain an advantage over this strong defense.
  • Defensively, the Tribe will need to stuff the run. Don’t allow their running back to alleviate the pressure on his quarterback. We know Stony Brook has a rocky QB situation–the Tribe needs to exploit that weakness to win this game.

Tribe Injury Updates: These injury updates come from what we have learned/gleaned from Dave Fairbank’s (of the Daily Press) Twitter feed.
Out: Airek Green and Hunter Windmuller have been ruled out by Coach Laycock– this isn’t too surprising given that last week, Green was in a walking boot and Windmuller was taken out of the Lafayette game with an apparent shoulder injury. John Carpenter will take over punting duties, as well as continue to kick field goals.
Questionable(/Doubtful): Chris Durant and Connor Hilland (both on the O-Line) are questionable to return this week.
Probable(/Questionable): Laycock also said he “hopes” that Mikal Abdul-Saboor and Sean Ballard can get back on the field this week.

Viewing for the Game: Stony Brook will be offering a live feed of the game at this link, Click Me! Keep this webpage handy for Saturday!

Prediction:  Tribe 20 Stony Brook 14
This will most likely be a low scoring contest, in which both teams may struggle to move the ball on offense. A lot may be asked of senior placekicker John Carpenter this week, both in the punting and field-goal kicking departments. If the Tribe can get enough going on offense, and the defense can rattle Stony Brook’s quarterback, W&M will win this game. GO TRIBE!!!
You can check out the official game notes here

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