Preview: #24 William & Mary @ Towson

via espn.com
via espn.com

The Tribe got back in the win column last Saturday after a tough loss to JMU. This week, William & Mary faces another CAA foe in the Towson Tigers. Thankfully, Towson lost their all-star running back Terrance West a year ago to the NFL’s Cleveland Browns–and this year’s Towson team looks nothing like last year’s national championship runner-up squad. The green and gold will look to build off of last week’s win, and seriously need to get the offense on track this week.

Last Meeting with the Tribe: A season ago, while Towson still had Terrance West and quarterback Peter Athens, the Tigers walked away with a hard-fought 15-9 victory over the Tribe at Zable Stadium. West rushed 30 times for 157 yards and two touchdowns. Tribe RB Mikal Abdul-Saboor carried 20 times for 105 yards. W&M wide receiver Tre McBride added 6 receptions for 88 yards on the day. But in the end, the Tribe offense couldn’t put enough points on the board and Towson was able to squeak by with a precious CAA victory. 

Towson this Year: This year’s Towson football team is a far-cry from what they were a season ago, when they went all the way and ended up losing to North Dakota State in the FCS National Championship. The Tigers currently hold an overall record of 4-6, and are 2-4 in the CAA. However, Towson is 2-1 in their last three games. The Tigers lost to powerhouse Villanova a week ago, but beat Elon and Delaware the weeks before that.

Towson started out this season with a bad loss to Central Connecticut State, before being shut out by West Virginia the next week. The Tigers then followed up with a couple wins over two MEAC teams in Delaware State and North Carolina Central. Overall, it’s safe to say that Towson hasn’t had any serious victories this season, and we hope the Tribe continues that trend this week!

Offensively speaking, Towson ranks 10 out of 12 in the CAA in terms of Total Offense. Don’t let this fool you though, as the Tigers boast the league’s second leading rusher (one spot behind the Tribe’s own Mikal Abdul-Saboor), and the Tigers boast the fourth best rushing offense in the CAA. But to understand Towson’s offense on a deeper level, and get beyond their stellar run game: William & Mary’s underperforming offensive unit currently ranks 7th in the CAA in Total Offense–three spots above Towson in the same offensive ranking. So what’s going on here? While Towson has a strong run game, they rank dead last in the CAA in passing offense.

On the defensive side of the ball, Towson is just about identical in rank to W&M in terms of Total Defense. Towson comes in at the 8 spot and William & Mary at the 9 spot for Total Defense. These two teams have very similar overall defensive statistics, but one thing is for certain, the Tribe definitely has more turnovers than the Tigers this season! The green and gold enter this matchup sporting a +1.00 turnover margin per game–good enough for 7th in the nation in the category. While sporadic at times during the season, this year’s Tribe defense has shown a knack for forcing turnovers.

Towson’s Players to Watch:

Towson Running Back Darius Victor is second in the CAA in rushing [Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox]
Towson Running Back Darius Victor ranks second in the CAA in rushing [Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox]
Sophomore running back #7 Darius Victor is the heir apparent to Terrance West. Built like a bowling ball, Victor checks in at 5’8” and 210 pounds. Victor last season as a true freshman running behind Terrance West, carried the ball 9 times for 50 yards (5.6 average) against William & Mary. This season, now as a sophomore, Victor is the second leading rusher in the entire CAA. He has 1151 yards and 10 TDs, with a 5.4 yards per carry average.

Victor is incredibly talented, but what surprised us is his lack of production in the passing game. Victor only has 6 receptions for 25 receiving yards on the year. However, this may be more representative of Towson’s poor passing game, rather than Victor’s lack of ability to catch the ball. Either way, he doesn’t get the ball through the air much, so look for Towson to run the ball when #7 is in.

Towson’s quarterback this year is #4 Connor Frazier. Frazier took over for an injured Peter Athens a season ago, and assisted in guiding the Tigers to the FCS National Championship from the quarterback position. Frazier is a gifted, all-around athlete, who at one time or another has played wide receiver, punter, and quarterback during his time at Towson. In fact, in last year’s FCS National Championship game against North Dakota State, Frazier had seven receptions for 54 yards and punted once for 24 yards. Frazier didn’t play QB, as Peter Athens had returned from injury, but contributed nonetheless.

This year, Frazier is the Tigers’ starting quarterback; he currently sports a below average state line of 1279 passing yards, 8 touchdowns, and 7 interceptions. Frazier has also added 570 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. At the end of the day, even though Frazier is a gifted athlete, Towson still ranks dead last in passing offense in the CAA.

On defense, a redshirt freshman #53 James Simms leads the team in tackles. Simms is a linebacker who doubles as a tackling machine; he currently has 94 total tackles and one interception on the year. Don’t look for Simms to get to the quarterback though, as he has 0 sacks on the year up to this point. The player the Tribe has to look out for sack-wise is a senior defensive end, #56 Ryan Delaire. Delaire leads Towson with a staggering 11 total sacks on the season. Delaire weighs in at 6’4” 250 pounds and is a threat to get to the quarterback every down. The Tribe offensive line will have to know where he is at all times on the field.

Tribe Keys to Victory:

  • Stop Darius Victor. Towson has shown this season that they do not have a strong passing game. Load up the box, play with one safety over the top, and force Connor Frazier to throw the ball.
  • On offense, air the ball out. The William & Mary offense hasn’t looked great these past two weeks. Get into a rhythm throwing the ball and contribute to Steve Cluley’s maturation process.
  • Tote the beast. Keep letting Abdul-Saboor does what he does best: lead the CAA in rushing. Why not? An effective run game will create opportunities in the pass game for Cluley and the Tribe receiving corps. 

Tribe Injury Update: Last week against Elon, DeAndre Houston-Carson was sidelined and did not dress to play. We don’t know what happened to Houston-Carson, but losing our top CB is not a good thing. In addition, true freshman tight end Andrew Caskin got injured during the Elon game and did not return. Alec Scheetz filled in for Caskin, and the Tribe seems to be running out of tight ends after a wealth of injuries at the position this season.  

Viewing: The game will be aired on CSN at 3 PM. Be sure to tune in!

Prediction: William & Mary 30 Towson 14
William & Mary should not have much difficulty beating a lesser Towson team on the road this weekend. After the Tribe had to endure so many great CAA quarterbacks in the middle of the season, such as UNH’s Vailas, Villanova’s Robertson, and JMU’s Lee–it’s nice to finally catch a break with Elon last week and Towson this week. We predict the Tribe extend their win streak to two going into the final game of the regular season against arch-rival Richmond. LET’S GO TRIBE!!!
Check out the official game notes here!

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