Preview: #25 W&M vs. Delaware

WM vs UD

After last week’s home opener at Zable Stadium, the Tribe will once again hit the road, this time heading north to face the Delaware Blue Hens. This past weekend, the College dominated a very good Stony Brook team in a surprising 21-0 shutout victory. Balanced offensive play-calling, incredible defensive play, and a strong showing from running back Kendell Anderson carried the Tribe. William and Mary will look to build off its recent success against Delaware this Saturday.

Last Meeting with the Tribe: Last season’s matchup saw Mikal Abdul-Saboor break out and carry the offense in a huge statistical performance. The Tribe’s star running back rushed for 198 yards and two touchdowns, racking up a whopping 37 carries in the process. A young Steve Cluley turned in a a very efficient performance, completing 11 of 17 passes for 117 yards and one short touchdown pass.

Defensively, safety DeAndre Houston-Carson haunted the Blue Hen offense, recording eight tackles, a sack, and a crushing red zone interception. William and Mary held Delaware to just 17 points, even as the Blue Hen passing offense had a strong showing. Blue Hen quarterback Trent Hurley threw for 236 yards, and burned the Tribe with two long touchdown passes. The College was able to hold on, however, and seal a comfortable 31-17 win.

Tribe wide receiver DeVonte Dedmon vs. Delaware last season. We think he's due for a big game, don't you? [Photo: Rob Ostermaier / Daily Press]
Tribe wide receiver DeVonte Dedmon vs. Delaware last season. We think he’s due for a big game, don’t you? [Photo: Rob Ostermaier / Daily Press]
Delaware This Year: The Blue Hens are having a tough go of it so far, entering this weekend’s game with a paltry 1-3 record. Delaware dropped its opener to Jacksonville 20-14, in a game where the UD offense couldn’t move the ball down the field.

The Blue Hens then defeated Lafayette by a score of 19-9, with the Delaware defense taking the game away from the Leopards. Lafayette was unable to score a touchdown in the game, and Delaware held the Leopards to under 300 total yards. For reference, William & Mary defeated Lafayette 34-7 on the road this year.

Following the Lafayette game, Delaware gave up 28 points to Villanova, and 41 points to the FBS’ UNC Tar Heels–losing in both games. Overall, the Blue Hens offense is in a rut of inconsistency, and the defense has proven somewhat vulnerable as of late. This year’s starting quarterback, Joe Walker, went just 4-10 for 24 yards and one interception against UNC last week.

Thomas Jefferson and...Thomas Jefferson. Looks like Thomas Jefferson's alma mater will try and shut down Thomas Jefferson this weekend.
Looks like Thomas Jefferson’s alma mater will try and shut down Thomas Jefferson this weekend. We all know which side the ORIGINAL TJ is on.

Delaware Players to Watch: The Blue Hens’ most dangerous weapons may very well be redshirt freshman running back Thomas Jefferson (no, not William & Mary’s most famous alum) and wide receiver Diante Cherry. Jefferson, a promising freshman, ran for a very impressive 163 yards and 2 TDs on 22 carries against UNC last week, and has averaged 6.3 yards per carry this season. Funny side note: both Edgar Allen Poe and Thomas Jefferson scored touchdowns in college football this week. Don’t believe me?Definitely check it out here, it’s pretty hilarious and actually true.

Wide receiver Diante Cherry, who actually threw a touchdown pass in the Delaware opener, has notched 146 yards receiving in the three games he’s played (about ~48 yards per game in case you were trying to crunch it in your head). With the Blue Hens relying more on the run, Cherry could surprise the Tribe by running a deep route or two, as he is proven in this regard. Cherry averages a respectable 11.2 yards per catch. He is battling through an injury, but is expected to practice this week in preparation for this week’s game.

On the defensive side of the ball, players of interest include freshman defensive back Tenny Adewusi and sophomore linebacker Charles Bell. Adewusi made five tackles last game against UNC, and has demonstrated a propensity for wrapping up well. Bell, a middle-linebacker, recorded 11 tackles and forced a fumble in Chapel Hill last week. Look for both of these players will look to extend their hot streak against the Tribe this weekend.

Will it be Kendell Anderson time again this Saturday? [Photo: tribeathletics.com]
Will it be Kendell Anderson time again this Saturday? [Photo: tribeathletics.com]
Tribe Keys to Victory:

  • Creating the Big Play on Offense: Delaware has given up a lot of long pass plays this season, meaning the W&M receivers and tight ends need to attack the seam and the sidelines. Andrew Caskin ought to have more involvement in the pas game after catching another touchdown pass last week against Stony Brook. Look for him to again find the end zone this Saturday.
  • Clog the Running Lanes: With a lack of production at quarterback, the Blue Hens will have to rely heavily on running back Thomas Jefferson. It will be paramount for W&M’s linebacking corps, led by senior captain Luke Rhodes, to build off of last week’s incredibly strong performance against a very good running team in Stony Brook.
  • Maintaining Balance on Offense: William & Mary did well mixing things up on offense last week, and keeping some of the workload off of Mikal Abdul-Saboor. By including change-of-pace back Kendell Anderson in the game plan and putting a bigger load on quarterback Steve Cluley, who is quickly turning in to a seasoned vet, the Tribe can keep the good times rolling. After such a strong performance last week, Anderson deserves more playing time, anyway.

Viewing: NBCSN at 7:30 PM (Nationally Televised!)

Prediction: William & Mary 26 Delaware 12

The Blue Hens will struggle to move the ball against a William and Mary defense riding high after a shutout win against Stony Brook. The Delaware offense is unable to attack the Tribe secondary well, and is forced to move the ball on the ground. The W&M ground game should also remain strong, whether Anderson or Abdul-Saboor gets the nod. LET’S GO TRIBE!!!

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