As most know by now, W&M lost to ECU last week 19-7. But the score wasn’t the main headline coming out of Saturday; the game was even closer than the score already indicates, with W&M playing neck and neck with the Pirates until …… the Green and Gold’s heralded true freshman QB went down.
Hollis Mathis scrambled on 3rd down in the 2nd quarter, taking a hit and landing hard on his throwing shoulder. Mathis did not return to the game, and the Tribe’s offense would struggle, cobbling together a meager 7 points the rest of the way.
After the contest the news was grim, with the Richmond Times-Dispatch’s John O’Connor tweeting out the following:
BUT just today, Dave Johnson of the Daily Press offered up another tweet:
This is the best possible news that Tribe fans could have received. The dynamic Hollis Mathis is custom-built for W&M Offensive Coordinator Brennan Marion‘s GoGo offense; a true dual-athlete who can run and pass, the true freshman has flashed bits of greatness each and every game. Of course, he still has plenty to learn, but the prospect of a bonafide four-year starter under center is one that has escaped fans for far too long.
Suffice to say, going into this weekend’s game at Albany, Hollis Mathis is at best “Questionable” to play, and at worst “Doubtful.” So that got us thinking — what if Hollis is out this weekend? How would this Tribe team change?
Enter Graduate Transfer Kilton Anderson.
While true freshman Hollis Mathis has been the talk of the ‘Burg, the Tribe’s veteran grad transfer QB Kilton Anderson has also shown that he’s more than capable of handling the job.
The 6′2″, 210 pound grad transfer has seen action in 3 out of 4 W&M games so far this season. But how did he get here? Before W&M, Anderson played in 8 games as a freshman at Fresno State before transferring to Coastal Carolina, where he was for the last two seasons.
Last year at Coastal, Anderson appeared in 9 games, throwing for 1010 yards, 8 touchdowns, and 3 interceptions — finishing with an impressive 138.4 QB rating (he also rushed for 251 yards and 1 touchdown). A late addition to the Tribe’s roster this offseason, we are especially glad that the Tribe has him now.
After Mathis went down against ECU last week, Anderson came in and went 10/22 for 94 yards, 0 TDs, 1 INT, and 7 yards on the ground. While he didn’t have a great game by any means, it’s an understatement to say that it’s difficult for a QB to come off the bench and perform without receiving the majority of 1st-team practice reps that week. And let’s not forget, he was also playing against an FBS opponent in ECU.
Anderson’s two other stat lines this season against Lafayette (4/8 passing, 103 yards) and UVA (4/8 passing, 100 yards) were nearly identical, and on the year, Anderson has 297 yards, 0 TDs, and 1 INT. While he hasn’t thrown a touchdown just yet, Anderson has shown a very good deep ball, connecting for a 49-yard pass against Lafayette and a 39-yard pass against UVA.
Tribe fans will fondly remember that the 2019 season started with a Kilton Anderson 49-yard pass to a streaking Zach Burdick (on a trick play where all four W&M QBs were on the field). If W&M Offensive Coordinator Brennan Marion is able to get the ground game going in the vaunted GoGo offense this weekend, it could set up the play-action deep ball, playing right into Anderson’s strength (assuming he’s playing).
Overall, Anderson has a great arm, but he lacks Mathis’ mobility. Marion may need to adapt his run-first GoGo offense from the QB position while Anderson is in, but that’s not to say that Anderson can’t run it when called upon — it just won’t be as pretty as when Mathis does it. Either way, we have full confidence that Marion would be able to adapt after a week of game-planning with Anderson at the helm.
However, it has to be mentioned: if Anderson struggles against Albany, would the coaches make a change at QB and trot out Shon Mitchell or Ted Hefter? It would be interesting to see how the would-be QB battle shakes out, but we really do hope that Mathis is back sooner rather than later.