Following last week’s loss to Elon on the road, your William & Mary Tribe will head to Delaware for another away contest on Saturday. Whether or not Brandon Battle will start this week’s game at QB is up in the air, but one thing is for certain, the Green and Gold need to get back on track. After notching two straight wins, the Tribe has gone on to lose the last two — a trend we expect to end this Saturday. Delaware is a young team with a new head coach, but W&M has what it takes to get the job done. Roll Tribe Roll.
The Blue Hens currently sit at 3-2 (1-1 CAA) on the season. Starting the year with a win over Delaware State, they would go on to unsurprisingly lose to the #18 Virginia Tech Hokies 27-0. Since that loss, the team has gone 2-1, including a blowout win over Cornell, a closer-than-expected loss to JMU, and a win last week against Stony Brook, 24-20, a team that W&M recently fell to in a heartbreaker.
In the preseason, the Blue Hens were picked to finish #5 out of 12 CAA teams overall — as a reminder, your W&M Tribe was picked to finish 7 overall. But as we know, preseason rankings don’t mean a dang thing, especially in the CAA, still the SEC of FCS football. So far this season, Delaware has gotten it done on the ground, ranking #3 in the CAA in rushing offense, averaging 180.2 rushing yards per game.
However, all this success on the ground has come at the direct expense of the passing game, as the Blue Hens rank dead last, #12 of 12 in the CAA, in passing offense — averaging a mere 139.6 passing yards per game. We will, however, state that W&M is ranked #11 of 12, averaging just 144.4 passing yards per game. Like the Tribe, Delaware recently made a change at the quarterback position, and are hoping that the change provides the spark that the Blue Hens need to take their game to the next level.
Defensively, the Blue Hens have performed well, ranking #3 in scoring defense, as teams have averaged just 16.8 points per game against them. In a balanced effort, the team’s rushing defense ranks #5, and their passing defense ranks #6. And these numbers include the likes of JMU and Virginia Tech’s offenses. Impressive. On both sides of the ball, there are certainly talented players on this Delaware roster that the Tribe will need to watch for this Saturday.
- Senior LB (#5) Charles Bell: A Preseason All-CAA selection, senior Charles Bell certainly has lived up to the title. Through 5 games, Bell has accumulated 29 total tackles, good enough for 3rd best on the team. Although he only has one tackle for loss so far this season, we expect him to lead this Blue Hens defense on Saturday, clogging the holes, and looking to stop the Tribe’s running backs throughout the contest.
**Update: Charles Bell was actually injured in Delaware’s game against JMU, and is out for the season.
- Junior RB (#32) Kareem Williams: Did we mention this is a run-first team? Williams currently leads the 3rd best rushing offense in the CAA, averaging 59.6 yads per game on 5.2 rushes per carry. Alongside Williams, you’ll see a heavy dose of two other running backs, Thomas Jefferson (yes, we kid you not — that is his name) and Kani Kane. Kane appears to be the goal-line back, already notching 4 rushing touchdowns this season. However, it is Williams that leads the team in rushing yards per game, so expect to see a heavy dose of #32 early and often on Saturday.
- Junior QB (#9) J.P. Caruso: Ah, the most important position in football. As we mentioned earlier, Delaware Head Coach Danny Rocco (the one that used to coach Richmond in years past) chose to bench long-time starter Joe Walker in favor of J.P. Caruso last Saturday. And while Caruso didn’t finish with eye-popping numbers against Stony Brook (7/14 for 80 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT; 9 carries for 65 rushing yards), he did provide the spark that the team was looking for on the offensive side of the ball. A 5’11” 200 pound junior who can tuck and run, the Green and Gold defense will have to contain the Blue Hens’ newly anointed dual-threat quarterback under center this weekend.
- Get off to a Fast Start: Slow starts have repeatedly plagued W&M through the early part of the season. In the last two contests, the Tribe was outscored by wide margins in the first half, only to have the Green and Gold struggle to get itself back in the game in the second half. Let’s not do that this week. Agreed? Agreed. With Brandon Battle potentially starting under center this Saturday, we’re hoping he can provide the spark that this offense needs. If it remains Tommy McKee under center, we’ll need to see more. With a Jimmye Laycock-led team, and knowing his skills as a quarterback guru, it’s surprising that W&M hasn’t been able to get more out of the position so far this year. Whoever starts this Saturday will need to have a big game. It’s a competition now.
- Contain Delaware QB J.P. Caruso: This guy can run. He proved it last week against a strong Stony Brook defense, and will look to continue his running ways this week. W&M currently sports the #4-ranked rushing defense in the CAA, giving up 111.2 rushing yards per game. The game-plan this week will be to contain Caruso, forcing him to pass the ball, giving the talented Tribe cornerbacks multiple chances to pick it off.
- Protect the Quarterback: We weren’t particularly impressed with the Tribe’s offensive line play last week. It seemed as though QBs Tommy McKee and Brandon Battle were constantly pressured when looking to throw the ball. Again, we’re not sure if this were a result of QBs holding the ball too long or something else, but the line needs to provide the new QBs as much time as possible this weekend to get something going on offense.
Time: Saturday, 3:30 PM
Location: Delaware Stadium (Newark, Delaware)
Watch: Delaware TV — find the link here!
Tribe 23, Delaware 16
In what we expect to be a slightly sloppy contest, due to new quarterback play, the Tribe should come out on top. If Brandon Battle can continue his strong gun-slinging ways on Saturday, he will power the W&M offense to victory. Moreover, if the Green and Gold defense can contain Delaware’s run game and force the pass, the team should be in good shape to limit the one-dimensional Blue Hens offense. We believe. LET’S GO TRIBE!!!