Post-Game Analysis: W&M @ Norfolk State

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The boys from the ‘Burg got back in the win column this past Saturday with a solid victory over the Norfolk State Spartans in their house. Yes, Norfolk State is not a great team, but every win counts — with this one also serving the added purpose of getting the Tribe back on track following last week’s loss to UVA. Roll Tribe Roll.

The Good

  • 375 Yards of Total Offense: When it was all said and done, the Tribe offense picked up steam and finished with a bang. Building off of his stellar performance on the ground a week before, quarterback Tommy McKee finished with 114 rushing yards on 14 carries. Building in this added dimension from the quarterback position will surely continue to be a focal point for this year’s offense with McKee at the helm. McKee would also finish the contest with 169 yards, 3 TD, and 1 INT — very solid, but the team will need more passing yards out of him come CAA play. The running backs didn’t get much going, as three Tribe running backs (Jaret AndersonNate Evans, and Noah Giles) finished with a combined 92 rushing yards. However, 375 yards of total offense isn’t too shabby; we saw bright spots that will need to continue to improve as the season goes on if the Tribe looks to make noise in this year’s CAA.
  • W&M Receiving Corps: Following last week’s HUGE loss (DeVonte Dedmon injured his wrist vs. UVA, out for an indefinite period of time), the Tribe’s deep receiving corps flexed its muscles on Saturday. Daniel Kuzjak led all receivers with 6 receptions for 53 yards and 1 TD; 7 other W&M players hauled in a pass, in addition to Kuzjak. Freshman fullback Tyler Crist and senior captain/tight end Andrew Caskin hauled in McKee’s other two touchdown passes. Young guns such as freshmen Anthony Mague and Jordan Lowery also hauled in catches, and ultimately, with Dedmon out indefinitely, we liked what we saw out of these players getting their first collegiate snaps on the offensive side of the ball. We’ll look for their role to expand in first-year offensive coordinator D.J. Mangas‘ offense.
#6 Tommy McKee continues to flex his running ability, passing the century mark for the first time this season. [photo via tribeathletics.com]
  • 3rd Down Defense & Sack Total: The Spartans converted a meager 3 of 13 third down conversions. The Tribe defense was efficient, making short work of the Norfolk State passing game all day long. In addition to stellar 3rd down defense, W&M finished with 5 sacks in the contest. This was one of our Keys to the Game — getting to the quarterback! And yes, the Tribe did just that. Coming off a terrible season in the sack column a season ago, this game got the Tribe defensive line going. Unsurprisingly, senior captain/defensive end Matt Ahola led the team in sacks, with 1.5. Josh Dulaney and Isaiah Stephens were also credited with one apiece. We’re looking for this trend to continue all year long; getting pressure on the quarterback is paramount each and every week in a competitive CAA chalk full of highly touted gunslingers.

The Bad

  • The Offense’s Poor Start: In the first four drives, W&M finished with #1 a Field Goal Attempt (missed) #2 a turnover on downs (after a failed 4th-down conversion attempt) #3 an interception and #4 a punt. Yes, it was at this point that Tribe nation collectively scratched their heads and asked themselves, “How much longer can this go on?” We’re not quite sure what it was that changed the tide. Was it a pep talk from Mangas? Did something click inside Tommy? Were adjustments made? The Tribe would go on to score passing touchdowns on the next three drives, essentially putting the game out of reach. However, slow starts like these will not fly in the CAA. Try this against JMU on Homecoming day, and you’ll find yourself down 0-21 in the blink of an eye. Obviously, Norfolk State is no JMU, but this is something that will need to be corrected during practice this week.
  • Missed FG & XP: The special teams did not particularly impress in this one. Kris Hooper, following a great game against UVA where he converted on a 41-yard attempt, could not connect on a 42-yard kick against the Spartans. He also missed an extra point after the Daniel Kuzjak touchdown pass. The team need more consistent play out of the place kicker position moving forward.
True freshman Will Michael saw the field for the first time in his collegiate career, punting the ball twice for the Green and Gold. [photo via tribeathletics.com]

The Ugly

  • 34.7 Yards Per Punt: Did we mention that special teams didn’t impress in this one? Tommy Mckee, the quarterback and de facto punter, finished with one punt for 35 yards. That would prompt Coach Laycock to call on true freshman punter Will Michael. Michael punted twice, with a long of 38 yards, and an average of 34.5. We’ll give Michael the benefit of the doubt in this one, as this was his first-ever collegiate playing experience. But moving ahead, we’ll need to get more out the punting unit, as the team can’t afford to give opposing teams dozens of free yards per game.

Around the CAA

Richmond narrowly defeated the Patriot League’s preseason #3 Colgate Raiders. Stony Brook defeated Rhode Island in a CAA contest, and Villanova nearly upset the FBS’ Temple Owls on the road. New Hampshire pulled off the FBS upset, defeating Georgia Southern — a team that recently moved up from FCS to FBS in 2014. And of course, JMU posted another easy victory, cruising as the #1-ranked team in the FCS world.

Look Ahead

Your William & Mary Tribe finally comes home for its SEASON OPENER vs. the Bucknell Bison on Saturday for Family Weekend. Will you be there? We will. Be on the lookout for our preview article soon. LET’S GO TRIBE!!!

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