After last week’s disappointing loss at the hands of the NC State Wolfpack, William & Mary fell 4 spots in the FCS Stats Top 25 poll to #13 in all the land. Okay, not in all the land, but in the entire FCS. Still pretty good. Although the Tribe was expected to perform much better than it did last week, just about any Tribe fan would tell you they weren’t expecting to come out with a 1-0 record. But I digress. This week, William and Mary travels to Hampton looking to get in the win column. And with a recent history of wins against its in-state foe, this game should be one where the Tribe gets back on track.
Last Meeting with the Tribe
This marks the fourth year in a row that William and Mary will face off against the boys from the MEAC, the Hampton Pirates (6-5, 5-3 MEAC). Last season, W&M stood toe-to-toe against Hampton in the Green and Gold’s homecoming game, winning in an absolute clobbering, 40-7. It was never really close, as the Tribe offense combined for 528 yards of total offense behind Kendell Anderson’s 191 yards on the ground on 22 carries (8.7 ypc).
Defensively, the unit forced UVA transfer QB David Watford to throw 2 interceptions (one by DeAndre Houston-Carson and the other by DE Matt Ahola), and added three sacks. Perhaps more impressively, the defense held a shutout through 2 quarters, and continued its ways until Hampton finally scored late in the third quarter.
Here’s a fun fact for you: in the previous three years that William and Mary has faced Hampton, the Tribe has outscored the Pirates 113-28 (a margin of 85 points!). We at the W&M Sports Blog hope (and predict) for this trend to continue on Saturday, and that both the offense and defense get going this week.
Hampton this Year
Hampton had to reschedule its season opener last week to avoid the peak impact of storm system Hermine, playing its game vs. ODU on a Sunday. One could say they had a stormy start to their year (get it?). Okay enough with the dad jokes. They opened up their season against the ODU Monarchs (now FBS), losing by a score of 54-21. The Pirates opened the quarterback with graduate student, #12 Jaylian Williamson, who threw for 200 yards, a touchdown, and an interception in the game. It was his 13th career start. Much like the Tribe against NC State, Hampton hung on early against the Monarchs–as the first quarter ended 14-7, in favor of the Monarchs. However, ODU eventually opened it up, and took a strong 31-14 lead into half.
Hampton would cut the lead to 10 points in the third quarter after a touchdown run by Dwayne Garrett. However, as Hampton gave up a safety and as Williamson threw a pick six, it was all said and done, and the Monarchs took control down the stretch. ODU would go on to score the final 23 points of the game, and win handily–54-21.
Hampton’s Players to Watch
One player the Tribe defense will definitely have to keep an eye on is senior #3 WR Rashawn Procter. Procter had no issue going up against FBS competition in ODU, and finished with an insane 9 catches for 161 yards. After a game like that, we are sure that he is QB Jaylian Williamson‘s favorite target. Watch out for #3. Cornerbacks Tre Reed and Aaron Swinton will be tasked with stopping the 5’11” Proctor, who will look to have another field day this weekend.
Speaking of Jaylian Williamson, he actually started for the Pirates against William and Mary the last time the Tribe traveled to Hampton, in 2014. In that game, Williamson finished with an impressive 335 yards through the air and a passing touchdown. Throughout the contest, Williamson connected on short routes, screens, and quick passes, shredding the W&M defense with a stellar game plan. Although W&M would win that game 42-14, Williamson is certainly someone that the defense will be preparing for this week.
On the defensive side of the ball, Tribe fans should keep an eye on #4 LB Devin Vandyke, a graduate transfer student from Virginia Tech. Vandyke added 10 tackles and a fumble recovery in the game against ODU, and will be tasked with slowing down Tribe running backs Kendell Anderson and Albert Funderburke.
Tribe Keys to Victory
- Establish the Run Game: William & Mary racked up just over 200 rushing yards at Hampton in 2014. In 2015, the Green and Gold did themselves one better, finishing with a staggering 282 rushing yards. W&M wasn’t able to get much of any offense going last week, and what better way to get things back on track than through the ground game this week. Run early. Run often. And run them over. This game will be won on the ground.
- Deliver Solid Cornerback Play: Hampton’s top WR Rashawn Proctor will prove to be a very good early-season test for the Tribe’s cornerbacks. The CBs weren’t asked to do too much last week, as NC State was content to dump the ball off on quick outs and screens, choosing to crush the corners on strong blocks up front rather than test them deep. As the Pirates did in 2014, Hampton may also choose the short-passing route. And if that’s the case, W&M’s corners need to show that they can snuff out the quick pass, as well as cover the deep ball. If W&M goes up early, look for Hampton to throw the ball a lot in this one.
- Get into Rythm on Offense: Tribe QB Steve Cluley did not have a good game last week. Plain and simple. He made a couple throws that we’re not used to seeing our heady quarterback make. But that’s in the past. This week, Cluley gets a clean slate. He’ll have a strong stable of backs that are known for running all over Hampton. And let’s not forget that he should have a whole lot more time in the pocket this week. Yes, it’s time to open it up a little, but it’s also entirely okay for Cluley to rely on his run game in this one. Use the run to open up the pass, and burn them deep when they’re not looking. Always a good strategy.
Hampton Pirates TV (Free): Save the link here!
Tribe 40 Pirates 17
While it might take the Tribe a little longer than fans would like to get themselves warmed up and back on track, we just don’t see this game being close. W&M has far too many weapons on offense, and with the stable of backs that the team wields, it’s tough to see the Pirates being able to manage W&M’s potent offense. It’ll also be good to see how W&M’s defense responds after last week’s showing. We wouldn’t mind a sack/interception or two. If you’re in the Williamsburg area, be sure to make the <1 hour drive to Hampton for this one to root the boys on! If not, catch it at the link above. LET’S GO TRIBE!!!