William and Mary garnered another victory this week over Elon, moving the overall record up to 6-4 (3-3 CAA). This contest was a lot closer than we expected it to be, but the Tribe got the job done, and that is all we can ask of them. W&M came into this game ranked 24 in the nation, and we hope that they can move up into the top 20 this week. Overall, William and Mary is 4-1 this year at Zable Stadium, with one home loss coming in a close game against a powerful Villanova team.
Offense: The offense is best summed up as: Mikal Abdul-Saboor. Aside from the star running back’s performance, the offense was not clicking for the second week in a row. QB Steve Cluley never seemed to get into a rhythm passing, and the run game was asked to pick up the slack. Cluley finished the game with 167 yards, no touchdowns, and no interceptions. This week’s leading receiver was Sean Ballard, who finished with 58 yards on 4 catches.
Tre McBride was targeted only once downfield, with Cluley just missing him. One thing we want to see from the offense is to get Tre involved more often; he is not being given enough chances to make a play. Though we understand that he is covered by two defensive backs just about every down, the offense at this point is too one-dimensional. When the Tribe is able to spread the ball to multiple receivers through the air, think Villanova game, that is when the offense is clicking on all cylinders. Up to this point, the unit has not been able to get the job done enough in this regard.
Abdul-Saboor continues to be Abdul-Saboor. He ended this game with 30 carries for a whopping 189 yards on the ground. He now leads the CAA in rushing with 1020 yards through just 9 games. He is the workhorse of the offense and seems to put up 100 yards week in and week out. Abdul-Saboor is the straw that stirs the drink, and if William and Mary has any hopes of making the playoffs this season, then it will be through a heavy dose of the run game.
Defense: In this game, the defense looked like the defense of old. The D shut down Elon in the first half, posting a shutout that lasted all the way until the third quarter. W&M allowed just 7 points in the entire game, and certainly got the job done. Luke Rhodes, Trey Reed, and Aaron Swinton finished the game with 6 tackles, Airek Green and Ivan Tagoe both added an interception each, and Mike Reilly delivered one sack to bring his season sack total up to double digits (10).
While the defense did give up only 7 points and forced turnovers, there were some holes. Particularly in the second half, the Tribe defense seemed to be getting consistently beat on downfield throws. Trey Reed was beaten twice on deep throws; however on one attempt, he wisely held the opposing receiver and took the flag, rather than allowing the catch. Reed was also the victim of a 26 yard touchdown catch that gave Elon their only score of the game. Freshman cornerback Aaron Swinton filled in for a surprisingly injured Deandre Houston-Carson, and did an admirable job.
What has been a major problem for the D this entire season is limiting opposing teams’ big plays and defending against screen passes. In this game, Elon converted on one big passing play for a touchdown– and Elon likely would have been completed another big play had Reed not committed the aforementioned penalty. These next two games will go a long way in seeing how the Tribe D adjusts, as Richmond’s offense is certainly capable of the big passing play, and Towson has a star running back in Darius Victor who can break off a screen pass for serious yardage at any given time.
Special Teams: Special Teams in this game was up and down. Senior Kicker John Carpenter returned from surgery and had two blocked field goals on three attempts. Since Carpenter was coming off of surgery, we understand that he is probably a bit rusty (and sore)–so we’ll chalk it up to that. Nick Dorka resumed the punting duties for the Tribe with Hunter Windmuller still sidelined, and performed well in the process.
Senior Jasper Coleman blocked a field goal late in the game. William and Mary leads the nation in blocked kicks with 10 on the year, an average of one a game! We don’t know what makes our team so good at blocking kicks, but it is just another thing the Tribe has that can change the trajectory of games in the blink of an eye.
Injuries: The shocking news here was that star Deandre Houston-Carson was sidelined and not dressed to play. We do not know what happened to Houston-Carson, but losing him for more than just the Elon game could be a huge blow. On top of Houston-Carson, true freshman tight end Andrew Caskin got injured during the game and did not return. Caskin was just beginning to flourish in the offense, and was named offensive player of the week for the Tribe after his big game last week at JMU. Alec Scheetz filled in for Caskin, as the Tribe is now down to their fourth string TE with Bo Revell, Eric Hensley, and Caskin all out with injuries.
Coming off of last week’s game in which he sustained an injury, true freshman DeVonte Dedmon was dressed and played. This was very good news for the offense and special teams.
Around the CAA: Richmond lost in a shocker to Maine, James Madison came from behind in order to take down Stony Brook, and Delaware beat Albany.
Conclusion: Overall, while it may not have been pretty, the Tribe got the job done. They went out and beat Elon, and their playoff hopes are still alive. The team will need to win out to have a shot at getting in. We will see if William and Mary moves up in the rankings today when they are unveiled. As of now, the Tribe needs to take it one game at a time. W&M now sits at 6-4, with Towson on deck for next week. If William and Mary finishes the year at 8-4, they will make a strong case for the Playoffs. Here’s to hoping that happens. For now, beat Towson and ROLL TRIBE!!!