Preview: #18 William & Mary vs. Delaware

via espn.com
via espn.com

William & Mary (4-3, 1-2 CAA) continues its tough CAA slate this weekend at home against the Delaware Blue Hens (4-3, 2-1 CAA). The Tribe offense may just be picking up at the right time, and every game now becomes vital for the team to acquire an FCS playoff birth. Last weekend’s Homecoming at Zable Stadium was one to remember, but the Tribe will look to get back in the win column this week against the Blue Hens.

Last Meeting with the Tribe: At Delaware Stadium last season, then QB Brent Caprio threw for 125 yards and two touchdowns. The Tribe carried the ball an incredible 56 times, led by Mikal Abdul-Saboor with an eye-popping 32 carries for 140 yards. The vaunted W&M defense did not allow a single offensive touchdown the entire game, as Delaware only scored on a kickoff return and one lone field goal. William & Mary would go on to win 24-10 and raise their record to 7-3 on the season. 

Delaware this Year: Delaware has earned a couple early CAA wins, one against Elon, and another against JMU, in which Delaware’s last-second TD to end regulation and goal-line stand in overtime got the job done in front of a raucous purple and yellow crowd. However, the Blue Hens also suffered an unimpressive loss to Towson, by a score of 24-17.

Although met with some early success this season, this year’s Delaware squad has yet to play the best teams on its CAA schedule. William & Mary poses a tough match up this weekend, and Delaware closes out their season with three tough games against Albany, New Hampshire, and Villanova.

Offensively, Delaware’s rush offense is ranked 77 in the nation, and their pass offense is ranked 82nd. To compare, William & Mary’s rush offense is currently ranked 91 in the nation, and the Tribe’s pass offense is ranked 85. Both of these teams’ offenses have not performed all that well, but Delaware’s gets the slight nod at this point in the season.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Blue Hens’ rush defense is ranked 102 in the nation, but their pass defense is ranked a lot higher at 31. Again in comparison, W&M’s rush defense is ranked 45 in the nation, and the Tribe’s pass defense is ranked 100.

If you compare the two teams in terms of Total Defense, the teams are nearly identical, as Delaware is ranked 71 and William & Mary is ranked 73. Also, W&M is way ahead of Delaware in the turnover department, checking in at 14th in the nation, averaging .86 turnovers per game. On the other hand, Delaware comes in at the 107 spot, sporting a -1.00 turnover margin per game.

Delaware’s Players to Watch:

Delaware Quarterback Todd Hurley (via bluehens.com)
Delaware Quarterback Trent Hurley (via bluehens.com)

On offense, it’s hard to miss the 6’4” senior QB, #2 Trent Hurley. Hurley is a third-year starting quarterback for the Blue Hens offense, and knows the system well. This season, Hurley has completed 61.9% of his passes for 1273 yards, 6 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions. While his TD/INT ratio may not be that impressive, Hurley also has some scrambling ability; he has 212 yards and 4 touchdowns on the ground.

This offense is definitely run first. They are led by #33 Jalen Randolph and #31 Wes Hills. Both backs are sophomores; they have combined for 816 rushing yards and 7 touchdowns on the season. Delaware will attempt to run the ball throughout the game and set up the pass. Hurley’s favorite target is #17 Michael Johnson. Johnson is a do-it-all player, much like the Tribe’s Tre McBride. He can play wide receiver, as well as return punts and kick offs. Look to see #17 on the field a lot.

Defensively, the Blue Hens are led by a solid trio of linebackers in #44 Patrick Callaway, #25 David Mackall, and #20 Donte Raymond. Callaway has 44 total tackles, Mackall has 43, and Raymond has 41–which equates to an impressive 128 total tackles. But the player that may be the most impressive on the defensive side of the ball is a redshirt freshman, #73 Blaine Woodson. Woodson is a pass-rushing interior defensive lineman; Woodson has already racked up a staggering 7 sacks this season. As most football fans know, it’s very rare that a defensive tackle possesses the ability to get after the quarterback–keep an eye out for #73 on the defensive line this Saturday. 

Tribe Keys to Victory:

  • Protect Steve Cluley. Delaware’s Blaine Woodson will test our line, especially on its interior. Keeping Cluley upright will be critical in allowing the offense to open up like it did last week.
  • Force turnovers. As mentioned, this Tribe team has been known for forcing turnovers this season. Hurley already has 10 interceptions on the season, and W&M’s defensive backs should take advantage.
  • Keep the offensive fireworks going. Last week’s impressive offensive showing should be something the team builds off of and uses as motivation for this week’s game. Keep the momentum going. 

Viewing: You can view this week’s game on Comcast Sports Net (CSN)! 

Prediction: William & Mary 27 Delaware 17
We predict the Tribe gets back in the win column this week with a much needed win over Delaware. Every game is now vitally important, as the Tribe wasn’t able to get a win against New Hampshire or Villanova in the last two weeks. LET’S GO TRIBE!
You can check out the official game notes here!

 

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