Another win for the TRIBE! In a completely renovated Zable Stadium, the Tribe cruised to a 35-10 victory over the visiting Norfolk State Spartans. The W&M offensive line dominated the line of scrimmage, opening up holes for emerging stud running backs Jonathan Dunn and Albert Funderburke. It also didn’t hurt that the Green and Gold defense played lights out and notched a second half shutout. A great way to christen “new Zable,” to be sure.
While the first couple of weeks certainly had its ups and downs, it’s good to finally see this Tribe team firing on all cylinders on Saturday night. It will be key that they keep this up going into CAA play next week when the Tribe hosts Elon back at Zable Stadium. Below is our breakdown of the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly from this week’s game.
- A Strong Running Game – William & Mary rushed for 277 yards on Saturday, led by the dynamic duo of redshirt freshman Albert Funderburke (137 yards, 3 touchdowns, and this week’s CAA Rookie of the Week) and junior Jonathan Dunn (89 yards, 2 touchdowns). 5 combined touchdowns. Need we say any more? Okay, if you insist. Even with 1st team All-CAA running back Kendell Anderson sidelined due to injury, the Tribe running game has not missed a beat. Just imagine when the Tribe gets Anderson back. What will we call it then–a triple-headed monster? And let’s not forget, QB Steve Cluley also rushed for an impressive 49 yards on 6 attempts, including a 37 yard run where he juked a defender and showed speed in the middle of the field. The Green and Gold running game was truly strong in this one, which bodes well for this offense moving forward. Opposing defenses will be forced to stack the box, anticipating the run. But this, of course, will only serve to open up the field for Tribe WRs and TEs moving forward. We like the sound of that.
- The Tribe’s Vaunted Defense – Wow. The Green Swarm showed up in this one. William and Mary’s young defense was dominant in this game, especially in the second half. The unit not only posted a second half shutout, but also gave up just 52 total yards in third and fourth quarters. Adding to the impressive totals were 7 tackles for loss, 4 QB hits, and 3 total sacks. The sacks and QB pressure were especially good to see, with CAA play just around the corner. This year’s defense is getting it done through a combination of seniors like CB Trey Reed (14 tackles, 3 passes defended) and DE Matt Ahola (9 tackles, 1 sack). But equally impressive have been the young guns, such as freshman DT Bill Murray (8 tackles, 2 sacks), freshman LB Arman Jones (5 tackles, 2 sacks) and freshman S Corey Parker (20 tackles, 2 INT, and week 1’s CAA Rookie of the Week). This unit, despite a slow start, is taking form with several promising young players who are stepping up big for the Tribe. This not only bodes well for this season, but for seasons to come in Williamsburg.
- The W&M Student Section – William and Mary’s student section was out in full force on Saturday night. While some a few after halftime, the stands were packed for the beginning of the game and the unveiling of the new Zable Stadium. We hope that the fans will continue coming back with the passion they had Saturday night. It was truly raucous (now say that in a Taylor Reveley voice).
- Home Field Advantage – William and Mary improved its home winning streak to 7 games after it defeated the Spartans on Saturday night. The last time William and Mary lost at home was on November 22nd, 2014, at the hands of who else but the Richmond Spiders. In fact, dating back to 2013, William and Mary is an insane 15-3 at home. That is no small feat for the Tribe, let alone any team in college football, and is one we hope continues throughout this season.
- Kendell Anderson’s Injury – The fact that starting RB Kendell Anderson didn’t play a single snap in this game is a bit concerning. After receiving multiple pre-season awards including Stats FCS Preseason All-American, Kendell has yet to get things going. Injuries have bogged him down so far in this young season, much like they did with former Tribe RB Mikal Abdul-Saboor a season ago. Ironically, Kendell would go on to lead the CAA in rushing that year. Even still, his hold out makes us think…did the injury get worse? Is Jimmye saving him (highly likely) for CAA play? Any way you slice it, the team needs Kendell back when it gets into the thick of CAA play, starting with New Hampshire in a couple of weeks (no disrespect to Elon). Here’s to hoping Kendell gets healthy again, because it would certainly be fun to see the trio of Anderson-Funderburke-Dunn play together in a full game.
- Daniel Kuzjak’s Injury – WR Daniel Kuzjak was having a heck of a game before going down to injury this past Saturday. Cluley connected with Kuzjak on a 45 yard bomb after a great catch by Kuzjak, which put the Tribe on the 1 yard line. His injury is alarming to Tribe fans and the W&M offense in general, which is already without freshman WR Jalen Christian, who has been out with injury since the season opener at NC State. We are hoping his injury is minor and that he will be back for the 2 game stretch of UNH-JMU in the coming weeks. We’ll certainly need to be all systems go by then.
On Norfolk State’s one touchdown drive of the game, the Spartans drove 94 yards in 2:45. Norfolk State decided to go for it on 4th and 5 at the William and Mary 26. On that play, QB Greg Hankerson not only got the first down, but he also ran it in for a 26 yard rushing touchdown, putting the Spartans up 7-0. It was a moment of anxiety for Tribe fans, as thoughts of a dual-threat quarterback (remember Delaware?) loomed large from a season ago. However, the defense tightened up after this drive, and only allowed 3 points the rest of the game. Well done.
Around the CAA
The surprising result of the week was Stony Brook’s absolute thrashing of #2 ranked Richmond, 42-14 at home. Absolutely unthinkable. As of last week, the Spiders looked like the only team capable of knocking off #1 North Dakota State (who now looks completely unbeatable after defeating #13 Iowa, at Iowa…). But for the Tribe, it looks like the chilly trip up to Stony Brook won’t be an easy one come November. Overall, the CAA went 0-2 against FBS and Ivy league teams this week. New Hampshire had a surprising loss at Dartmouth, in a game that came down to the wire. In league play, Villanova notched a big win over Towson. Albany also improved to an impressive 3-0 after defeating Holy Cross this week.
As previously mentioned, Stony Brook picked up a monster win over #2 ranked Richmond, and now holds two wins over ranked FCS opponents. The Albany Great Danes also continue to impress after their win over Buffalo (FBS). It’ll be interesting to see how these teams finish once the CAA schedule really gets going.
FCS STATS Top 25 Poll
After last week’s win over Norfolk State, William and Mary jumped up 5 spots in the rankings to #8 in the nation. What’s surprising to us, is that William and Mary is ranked above #11 JMU–who had a solid showing at UNC, despite the loss. Regarding other CAA teams of note, both Villanova and Albany moved up two spots, to #19 and #22 respectively. Stony Brook also entered the rankings at #20, Richmond, following the loss to Stony Brook, fell 5 spots to #7, and UNH fell out of the rankings. But they’re not done yet.
We think that the big jump for the Tribe was in part due to the fact that 10 ranked teams lost this past weekend, rather than the fact the Tribe did anything particularly spectacular against Norfolk State. Regardless, we will take it! The Tribe is now ranked in the top 10 and will look to retain that ranking after playing Elon this weekend. What’s better than a top-10 Tribe team?
As Head Coach Jimmye Laycock noted in his post-game press conference, this team has continued to get better each week. After a shaky opening at NC State, followed by a questionable first half at Hampton, this team has really stepped up its play. From offensive efficiency to defensive prowess, the Green and Gold has a lot to be confident moving forward. This weekend, the Tribe will open up CAA play when the Elon Phoenix comes to the ‘Burg. We at the W&M Sports Blog believe that the Tribe has a very good shot to continue its home winning streak and secure a very important first win in the CAA! ROLL TRIBE!