William and Mary got back in the win column this week, beating Delaware by a score of 31-17 at Zable Stadium. It was a much needed win after the Tribe dropped their last two games to a couple top 5 opponents in New Hampshire and Villanova. William and Mary will retain its number 18 ranking this week, and may even rise in the polls. Overall, the offense was able to build off of last week’s momentum, and the defense was able to keep the Blue Hens in check throughout.
Offense: Quarterback Steve Cluley wasn’t asked to do much in this game, as the Tribe established the run game early and often. It was certainly a notable game for Mikal Abdul-Saboor, who had a whopping 37 carries for 198 yards and 2 touchdowns–his best ever game on the ground. W&M’s very talented true freshman wide receiver DeVonte Dedmon also added 28 yards on the ground, including a 22 yard dash to paydirt. The William & Mary offense garnered 362 yards of total offense–a staggering 245 of which came on the ground. Quarterback Steve Cluley finished the game 11 for 17, with 117 yards and one touchdown–the lone strike coming on an early 1 yard strike to the Tribe’s very reliable senior fullback, Darnell Laws.
On offense, one thing that surprised us was the fact that the team’s talented sophomore running back Kendell Anderson did not see the field. Anderson was dressed on the sideline and appeared healthy, but Jarrell Cooper was the only one who received carries in relief of Abdul-Saboor. It was certainly something to note, considering Anderson had 8 rushes for 75 yards and a touchdown last week against a tough Villanova team. Even still, it was great to see the speedy Cooper receive some much deserved carries.
In the end, we are glad to see the running game have a big day. We will need more of that next week against JMU, in order to keep their high powered offense, led by Georgia Tech transfer Vad Lee, off the field. Time of possession will likely be key in the upcoming matchup, and the Tribe will need to take control of the ground game to control time of possession. But we digress!
Defense: Overall, the defense did its job well on Saturday, giving up just 17 points to a seasoned Delaware offense. The one problem that we could find with the unit this week, is the same as it has been all year: giving up the big play. The Tribe gave up two big-play touchdowns of 31 yards and 49 yards–the only two touchdowns by the Blue Hens’ offense. This is one thing the defense needs to figure out and quickly, as JMU next week possesses an offense known for big play ability.
Tribe cornerback DeAndre Houston-Carson continued his huge season against Delaware, garnering 8 tackles, a sack, and a big-time interception inside the 5 yard line. Defensive tackle Tyler Claytor also had a big game for the Tribe, finishing with 2.5 sacks. Mike Reilly did what he does best, and while he only have a half a sack, he had three QB hits and was constantly putting pressure on Delaware QB Trent Hurley. In the end, the Tribe finished with 6 total sacks.
Special Teams: What was also surprising to us and just about every other Tribe fan in this game, was that both kicker John Carpenter and punter Hunter Windmuller did not play–we assume both due to injury. We know that Windmuller suffered a shoulder injury earlier in the season, so that may be what’s bothering him again. But not seeing Carpenter dressed and ready to go was a big surprise.
In their absence, redshirt freshman Nick Dorka took over both punting and kicking duties, and performed incredibly well given the circumstances. His first punt was downed at the three yard line; he finished with 5 punts, which traveled a total of 244 yards– his long traveling a staggering 63 yards. Dorka also made a 36 yard field goal and was 4/4 on PATs.
Another thing we liked on special teams was DeVonte Dedmon returning kickoffs and punts. He had one big kickoff return, where was able to use his speed and get upfield. We are a fan of using Dedmon on kickoffs and punt returns because it takes advantage of Dedmon’s game breaking speed, ability to take people miss in space, and it keeps Tre McBride healthy. Keep in mind that although Tre is a great returner, he got injured in the Virginia Tech game on a kickoff return–Tre is much too valuable of a player for the Tribe to be without down the stretch.
Around the CAA: Maine was able to squeak out a win over Rhode Island, Stony Brook gave New Hampshire a serious run for their money, and next week’s opponent JMU won in a shootout against Charlotte on the road. But basically, every CAA team that should have won this week, won.
Conclusion: Overall, the Tribe went out and got the job done. They handled Delaware pretty well, winning 31-17. The run game had its best game of the season, and the W&M offense has now scored over 30 points in two straight weeks. Looking ahead to JMU, the offense will need another strong outing to keep up in what may be a shootout, and the defense will have to prevent giving up the big play. At the end of the day, William and Mary sits at 5-3, moves one step closer to the playoffs, and should go up in the rankings. GO TRIBE!!!