Preview: #12 W&M @ Elon

Elon, NC. September 29, 2007. An aerial of Rhodes Stadium as Elon University hosts Appalachian State.

The Tribe continues its march toward the playoffs and continue its four-game win streak on the road vs. the Elon Phoenix. Elon is currently in its second year in the CAA, and looks much improved from just a season ago. The Tribe should not take them lightly–everyone remembers this year’s Delaware game. Let’s not let that happen again.

Last Meeting with the Tribe: Last year, W&M defeated Elon 17-7 at Zable Stadium. The game was actually a lot closer than most expected it to be. The offense wasn’t clicking on all cylinders, as the passing game struggled. But luckily, running back Mikal Abdul-Saboor was on his game, finishing with 30 carries and 189 yards on the ground.

Tribe quarterback Steve Cluley struggled, as he finished the game with just 167 yards, no touchdowns, and no interceptions. Defensively, the Tribe dominated. Luke Rhodes and Mike Reilly led the unit and limited the Phoenix to just one touchdown–on a long touchdown pass. The defense also forced two interceptions.

Elon This Year: This season, Elon currently sports a 3-5 (2-3 CAA) record. The Phoenix’s two CAA wins came against Towson and last week against Stony Brook. The team has however fallen to JMU, Richmond, and UNH–and none of those were close scoring margins in the end. To say that W&M should win this game seems pretty obvious, but it’ll be easier said than done.

Then again, we all thought the Tribe would win by a larger margin last year, but they didn’t. We also thought that W&M would defeat Delaware on the road this year. It just so happens that Elon and Delaware are tied in the CAA at 7th place with identical 2-3 conference records. Coincidence? The Tribe needs this victory in order to ensure a clear path to the playoffs this season.

Elon's Dylan Thompson will look to get the passing game going against the Tribe this Saturday. [photo: elonphoenix.com]
Elon’s Daniel Thompson will look to get the passing game going against the Tribe this Saturday. [photo: elonphoenix.com]
Phoenix’s Players to Watch: Elon runs a timeshare at the quarterback position, as two freshman quarterbacks, #11 Daniel Thompson and #12 Connor Christiansen, split snaps each week. The two average a combined 195 passing yards per game, good enough for 5th in the CAA. With a timeshare like this, it’s typically the case that one QB is better at running the football than the other. However, this isn’t the case, as both only average around 12 rushing yards per game.

As Thompson has more garnered pass attempts, he has also accumulated a lot more interceptions. Thompson has 8 interceptions on the year to Christiansen’s 1. In total, Thompson has 738 passing yards, and Christiansen 598. This is all to say that Elon has an above average passing attack that averages a respectable amount of yards per game. The Tribe defense will need to stay on their toes in this one.

As for weapons at the wide receiver position, Elon does not have a prototypical “go to” receiver. The core receiving group is comprised of #80 Tre Lennon, #83 Corey Joyner, and #84 Tereak McCray. None of these receivers averages over 40 yards a game, but all have found the end zone at least once this season.

But what about the run game? Elon ranks dead last in the CAA in rushing, averaging a mere 79 rushing yards per game. This does not help the Phoenix’s young quarterbacks, as opposing teams can prepare to protect against the pass down after down without a true threat of the run. In the end, the Phoenix offense ranks dead last in the CAA in scoring, averaging just 13.2 points per game.

#24 Junior linebacker Corey Mitchell commands the defense, as he leads the team in total tackles, checking in with 88 on the season. Another junior linebacker in #50 John Silas also racks up the tackles, recording 79 on the year. Senior #2 Miles Williams is a 6’0″ defensive back who is certainly capable of shutting down a receiver. So far, he has 2 interceptions on the year. Overall, Elon ranks in the upper half of the CAA for passing defense (5), but toward at the bottom of the CAA in rushing defense (12); opposing teams average a whopping 249 rushing yards per game against the Phoenix.

The boys up front will look to dominate Elon at the line of scrimmage this weekend. [photo: tribeathletics.com]
The boys up front will look to dominate Elon at the line of scrimmage this weekend. [photo: tribeathletics.com]
Tribe Keys to Victory:

  • Run, Run, and Run Some More: After W&M’s 6 rushing touchdown performance against JMU a week ago, the Tribe will take on Elon’s league-worst rushing defense. Keep the ball rolling with Kendell Anderson and Mikal Abdul-Saboor in this one. 300 yards on the ground sounds like a good goal, doesn’t it?
  • Force Turnovers: Specifically, interceptions. Elon’s freshman quarterback, Daniel Thompson, has 8 interceptions on the year. With Tribe defensive backs DeAndre Houston-Carson and Trey Reed, the Tribe should look for the ball when in the air and force the freshman QB into some poor decisions.
  • Keep on Rolling: Last year’s contest vs. Elon was a little too close for comfort. The offense couldn’t get on track, which allowed the Phoenix to stay in the game. Let’s keep the confidence high and the Tribe rolling. 5 game win streak anyone? We like the sound of that.

Viewing: You can catch this game on CSN at 12 PM

Prediction: Tribe 40 Elon 14
Riding high off of a big win against JMU, we predict the Tribe keeps the momentum going against Elon. W&M’s offensive line should prove to be the difference in this one, as the Green and Gold will look to dominate time of possession through the ground game. GO TRIBE!!!

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