Our beloved Tribe fell at home last week to Maine 35-28, extending the Black Bears’ impressive overall win streak to 5 games. W&M’s Special Teams, which came into the season as one of the strongest units on this the team, faltered late, giving up a 67-yard punt return for a touchdown in the third quarter. Another fumble late on a potential game tying drive sunk the Tribe, who ultimately fell to 3-5 on the season (1-4 CAA). Ugh. Hurts us just to say that.
In what has been a very rough year for Tribe fans everywhere (that’s putting it lightly), we think it’s time for this team to shoot for a 3-game win streak to end the season and finish above .500. A three game win streak, including a win over Richmond, can go a long way toward this team’s confidence moving forward into the offseason and next year in general. Here’s to hoping that is the case.
Now, we turn to this weeks matchup with the Stony Brook Seawolves.
Last Season: William and Mary vs. Stony Brook
This contest was a coming out party for then-junior RB Kendell Anderson, who rushed for an astounding 191 yards and 2 touchdowns en rout to a 21-0 shutout victory over the Seawolves. From there, Kendell would not look back; in fact, this may have been the game that permanently propelled him into a starting role. The Tribe racked up 318 yards rushing and finished 466 total yards of offense on one of the top defenses in the nation, opening up 1-0 in CAA play.
The Tribe defense also flexed its muscles, holding Stony Brook’s offense to 0 points and just 167 yards of total offense. The Green Swarm was in full effect, effectively shutting down Stony Brook’s stud RB Stacey Bedell, holding him to a mere 3.6 rushing yards per attempt. W&M’s Tyler Claytor played a big role, finishing the game with 7 tackles, 2.5 TFL, and 1.5 sacks. This game really did set the tone for what would be a very strong season for the Tribe, which culminated in a 2015 CAA title.
Currently, Stony Brook sits at a competitive 5-3 (4-1 CAA) on the year. This ranks them tied for 3rd in the CAA with 3 other teams, behind only JMU (5-0 CAA) and New Hampshire (5-1 CAA) in the overall standings. The Seawolves were ranked as high as 22nd in the Stats FCS top 25 poll last week before falling at New Hampshire by a score of 43-14.
As has been the case in recent years, Stony Brook boasts a dominant defense, one which ranks 3rd in the CAA in Total Defense, and 2nd in Rushing Defense. Fortunately for the Tribe, they’re not as great on offense. The team ranks 10th in Total Offense, and averages just 18.5 points per game. To put this in perspective, William & Mary’s underperforming offense averages 21.4 points per game, ranking 6th in the league in total offense.
Stony Brook’s most impressive win this season came in the first week of CAA play against Richmond. The Spiders, then sitting at 2-0 (including a dominant win over FBS foe UVA), was absolutely man-handled by Stony Brook. In that game, the Seawolves held Richmond to a mere 32 rushing yards, and actually completely shut out the Spiders in the second half (outscoring them 21-0). Stony Brook’s reliable running back Stacey Bedell played like a man possessed, rushing for 100 yards and four touchdowns. Wow. Stony Brook went on to pull out the dominant victory at home, winning by a score of 42-14. This was a while ago now, but shows just what this strong Stony Brook team is capable of this year.
Adding to the narrative, Stony Brook also notched an impressive win over then-ranked North Dakota to start the season. They also strung together 3 consecutive CAA wins over Towson, Rhode Island, and Delaware, but followed that up with a clunker last week at UNH 43-14 . Last week’s game knocked Stony Brook all the way down to #5 in the overall rankings, vastly increasing the importance of this week’s game against the Tribe. If Stony Brook loses to W&M at home, it will be very hard for them to remain ranked and make it to the FCS Playoffs, as they end the year with two tough opponents in Maine and Albany.
Stony Brook’s Players to Watch
- #21 Stacey Bedell (RB, Junior, 5’9″, 195 lbs): While Stony Brook is known for its defense, it does have one absolute stud on offense: Stacey Bedell. Bedell has already rushed for 620 yards and an insane 10 touchdowns on the ground through the first 8 games of the season. He is averaging 4.8 yards per carry, and is certainly a running back capable of doing damage to a sub-par Tribe run defense. Add in the fact that William and Mary is actually ranked toward the bottom of the league in rush defense (giving up 211 rushing yards per game), and this could be a big day for Bedell. William & Mary will need to key in on Stony Brook’s running back and force their QB Joe Carbone to throw (he currently has 10 INTs on the year).
- DB Duo #6 Tyrice Beverette (Junior, 6’0″, 210 lbs) and #8 Jaheem Woods (Senior, 5’10”, 195 lbs): These two DB’s form one of the top duos in the CAA. Beverette leads the team in tackles with 67. He also has 8.5 TFLs, 4.5 sacks, and leads the team with 2 INTs. Look for Beverette to be all over the field come Saturday. Oh, and by the way, Jaheem Woods is no slouch either. Woods is currently second on the team in tackles with 58, and also has 8.5 TFLs, including 3 sacks, and is tied with Beverette for the team lead in Interceptions with 2. These two defensive backs will look to wreak havoc on the Tribe aerial attack this Saturday.
- #37 John Haggart (LB, Junior, 6’1″, 255 lbs) : Haggart is an imposing force, standing at 6’1″ 255 pounds. He currently has 30 tackles on the season, including 3 sacks. However, what is most impressive to us are his 11 TFLs. Haggart will play a huge role in whether or not Stony Brook can bottle up Tribe RB Kendell Anderson behind the line. This may ultimately determine the result on Saturday. Look out for Haggart filling holes and attempting to get into the Green and Gold backfield.
Tribe Keys to Victory
- Avoid Turnovers: William and Mary will have to play mistake-free football if it wants to have a chance in this one. Stony Brook has a stalwart defense that will look to take away the ball. So far this season, the Seawolves have won a lot of games by forcing turnovers and giving their offense good field position. The classic: good defense/strong running game combination has worked well for them so far. For example, Richmond’s QB Kyle Lauletta threw 3 interceptions vs. Stony Brook. However, the Seawolves do not do well when they cannot force turnovers/when they have to actually rely on their offense to put up points and win a game on their own. Overall, William and Mary will need to make sure it protects the football on Saturday.
- Open Up the Passing Game: QB Steve Cluley had a breakout game last week against Maine, throwing for almost 300 yards. He looked crisp on most of his throws, and looked like the Cluley of old. He even rushed for a couple touchdowns. Since Stony Brook ranks second in the CAA in rushing defense, it may be hard to establish much of a ground game in this one. Therefore, Cluley will need to carry the momentum of last game into this one, and challenge the Stony Brook pass defense (which features aforementioned studs Tyrice Beverette and Jaheem Woods). If the Tribe can establish the passing game, the run game will follow, and Kendell should find plenty of holes to gash.
- Stop the Run: As we mentioned previously, Stony Brook does not boast many threats on offense other than RB Stacey Bedell. Their QB has thrown for just 3 TDs on the season while adding 10 INTs. No receiver has more than 1 touchdown. Stony Brook is a team that likes to run the ball, and if the Tribe can force them to throw by stacking the box, the Seawolves will have a tough time putting up points on Saturday.
Viewing: When and Where
Live stream on Stony Brook’s College Sports Live Page at 2:00 PM. Save the link here!
W&M Sports Blog Prediction
William and Mary 17 Stony Brook 13
Both W&M and Stony Brook are coming off demoralizing losses, and both will look to get back on the right track with a win this weekend. So what’s the difference between the two teams? William and Mary has absolutely nothing to lose, while Stony Brook knows that if they lose this one, they are likely going to be left out of the FCS playoffs. We look for the Tribe to rebound in this one and play with some heart. Roll Tribe.