And here we have it folks. After a long summer, we are officially FIVE DAYS AWAY from the return of our Green and Gold. And with the season upon us, we turn to our 6th annual game-by-game prediction of how we at the WMSportsBlog think the season will go. A season ago, we accurately predicted the Tribe would finish 6-5. This season, head Coach Mike London’s fourth season with the Tribe, we are a bit more optimistic. Read below to find out where we think the Tribe will finish at years end, and whether we predict a playoff season or not!
W&M’s 2021 Record: 6-5
Picked to Finish This Year in CAA: #5 out of 13 in the CAA
W&M’s 2022 Preseason All-CAA Candidates to Watch:
- RB Bronson Yoder
- DL Nate Lynn (also selected as Preseason CAA Defensive Player of the Year)
- CB Ryan Poole
- RB Malachi Imoh (Honorable Mention)
- OL Colby Sorsdal (Honorable Mention)
- SPEC Alex Washington (Honorable Mention)
W&M Sports Blog 2022 Season Predictions
Week 1 (September 2): at Charlotte (7:00 PM)
The Tribe opens up its 2022 campaign against C-USA Charlotte 49ers. The 49ers are coming off a 5-7 2021 campaign and are picked to finish #7 in the C-USA Preseason poll (out of 11 teams). The team actually opened its season up this past Saturday against Florida Atlantic, getting blown out 42-13 in a game that was close early before getting out of hand. The 49ers are led offensively by senior QB Chris Reynolds and senior WR Victor Tucker. QB Chris Reynolds is the ALL-TIME passing leader at Charlotte and has had a decorated college career thus far, racking up several awards (UPDATE: Reynolds has been ruled OUT for the game vs. W&M due to injury) . Tucker is the second all-time leading receiver in program history and is a four year starter. This dynamic duo was impressive in the first game, albeit in a big loss. Reynolds went 14/19 for 196 yards, 2 TDs, and 0 INTs, and Tucker put up 5 catches for 75 yards. The 49ers have height at the WR position (their starters are 6″0 and 6″3), and with Reynolds at the helm, they are an opposing force offensively.
While this is a potential sneaky upset game given this is a C-USA team and W&M usually kicks it off with an ACC opponent, we are going to give the Tribe a loss to start the season. W&M does have a history of playing FBS teams tight though, and we think this game will be closer than most would think.
Prediction: LOSS (0-1)
Week 2 (September 10): vs. Campbell (6:00 PM)
The Tribe’s next opponent recently announced it will be joining the CAA starting in 2023, so we will see more of this team for years to come. The Campbell University Fighting Camels (yes, the Fighting Camels) currently play in the Big South Conference. The Fighting Camels were picked to finish #2 in the Big South this year, but before we go further, know that there are only 6 teams in the Big South Conference for football. Campbell is coming off a 3-8 season, in which they played 3 current CAA Opponents (Elon, JMU, and Hampton). They lost all three games, but they did play Elon close, losing just 24-23 early in the season. While we may be downplaying how good the Fighting Camels are coming into this season, there is no doubt William & Mary should handle this team at home to start the year.
Prediction: Win (1-1)
Week 3 (September 17): at Lafayette (3:30 PM)
The Lafayette Leopards of the Patriot League will host the Tribe in week 3 of the season in Easton, PA. The Leopards were picked to finish 4th in the Patriot League (out of 7), and boast some talent on the defensive side of the ball in Senior LB Marco Olivas and senior DL Malik Hamm. In fact, Malik Hamm was selected as the 2022 Patriot League Preseason Defensive Player of the Year. Hamm is a four-time All-Patriot league selection and won the Patriot League Defensive Player of the Year Award in 2019. This will be a battle of two NFL DL prospects in Hamm and Tribe’s Nate Lynn (also chosen as the Preseason Defensive Player of the Year in the CAA). While I expect Hamm to give the Tribe OL a true test, I don’t expect the Leopards to do much in this one. The Tribe has played Lafayette the past 2 season (if you don’t include the Covid season), and cruised to easy victories, including a 24-3 victory last season. We expect much of the same in this one, with the Tribe coming out victorious and establishing a winning streak.
Prediction: WIN (2-1)
Week 4 (September 24): vs. Elon (3:30 PM)
After starting the season with three out of conference games, the first CAA game for W&M comes at home against the Elon Phoenix. Elon was picked to finish 6th in the CAA, right after W&M, and will provide W&M a good test out of the gate in the CAA. The Phoenix graduated QB Davis Cheek a year ago, but they bring back big bodied WR Jackson Parham (6″3, 205 pounds), a 2021 First Team All-CAA and 2022 Preseason All-CAA selection. On the defensive side of the ball, they are led by senior defensive back Cole Coleman, also a 2021 First Team All-CAA and 2022 Preseason All-CAA selection. We expect this to be a tight game, similar to last season’s 34-31 Tribe victory at Elon. However, the Tribe currently have a a 4 game winning streak against Elon dating back to the 2018 season, and we expect that winning streak to continue. The Green and Gold start the CAA 1-0.
Prediction: WIN (3-1)
Week 5 (October 1): at Stony Brook (3:30 PM)
This one is tough. You may look at this game and think: How is this tough? Stony Brook was picked to finish LOWER than Elon, and you gave W&M a win against them, so why not against Stony Brook? Well, lets look at the facts here. And the facts are, W&M does not travel well when they go up north in the CAA. Disagree? Lets take a closer look. A season ago, W&M traveled north to Maine. Result? A 27-16 loss. In 2019, the Tribe had 2 road trips north: Albany (Loss, 39-24) and Maine (Loss, 34-25). In 2018, W&M travelled north to Rhode Island, and lost 21-10. In 2017, they traveled north to Maine, another loss (23-6). I think you get the point. W&M does NOT travel well when they go north in the CAA. However, the last victory to a northern CAA school would be way back in 2016, against Stony Brook, so there is hope.
Another thing that worries us? Ty Son Lawton. Ty Son was selected as the CAA Offensive Player of the Year. He is a senior running back that led the CAA last season with 1,088 yards, and ranked 9th in the entire FCS in rushing yards, earning him first team All-CAA honors. W&M will have its hands full in this game, but we believe in this team. W&M finished 2nd in Rushing Defense last year, and we believe they will continue this strength into this year. W&M finally breaks this ridiculous northern CAA opponent losing streak and leaves Stony Brook with a win.
Prediction: WIN (4-1)
Week 6 (October 8): vs. Delaware (3:30 PM) – HOMECOMING
Based on our predictions, William & Mary will be riding high on a 4 game winning streak coming into Homecoming week against the Blue Hens. Delaware is a deep football team that underperformed a season ago, but they are primed and ready to go this season. The Blue Hens were picked to finish second in the CAA in preseason voting, and had the most preseason All-CAA selections (5) of any team in the league. If you include the honorable All-CAA selections, that number goes up to 8 selections. The strength of the Blue Hens team is their defense, which includes an astounding 4 Preseason All-CAA selections and one honorable mention All-CAA selection. Their front seven features a trio of senior All-CAA selections in DT Artis Hemmingway, DE Chase McGowan, and LB Johnny Buchanan. Add in two senior All-CAA safeties on the back end in Kendrick Whitehead and Noah Plack, and you begin to see just how deep and experienced this Delaware team really is.
The Blue Hens always give W&M fits, especially in the late Laycock years, and we think this year is no different. The Tribe picks up its first CAA loss in this one and ends its four game winning streak going into the BYE.
Prediction: LOSS (4-2)
Week 7 (October 15): BYE WEEK
Week 8 (October 22nd): at Towson (4:00 PM)
Coming out of the BYE, the Tribe gets a good matchup on the road against the Towson Tigers. The Tigers finished last year 4-7 and were picked to finish 11th in the CAA. Their lone Preseason All-CAA selection is FB Luke Hamilton, and it appears Towson is rebuilding. With an extra week to rest and prepare for the Tigers, we expect the Tribe to have no problem winning this one and getting back on track after a loss to Delaware on homecoming.
Prediction: WIN (5-2)
Week 9 (October 29): vs. Rhode Island (1:00 PM)
The Rhode Island Rams are ascending. After going an awful 2-10 in 2019, the Rams had an impressive 7-4 season last year that found them JUST on the outside looking in for the FCS playoffs. Coming into this season, Rhode Island was picked to finish 3rd in the CAA, and for good reason. On the offensive side of the ball, the Rams return starting QB Kasim Hill, All-CAA tight end Caleb Warren, and four starters on the offensive line, including All-CAA OL Nick Correia. On the defensive side of the ball, the Rams return seven starters, including All-CAA cornerback Jordan Jones. This team has depth across the board, and is coming off its best season since 2001. If W&M were travelling north to Rhode Island, this would be an automatic loss for us (see our writeup on the Stony Brook game to see why). However, this game is at home, which makes it a toss up for us. Both Rhode Island and William & Mary will likely be fighting it out to represent the CAA in the FCS Playoffs, and this game will have HUGE ramifications on just that. Since this game is at home, we will give W&M the slight edge. The Tribe picks up a HUGE victory and moves to an impressive 6-2 record and 3-1 in the CAA.
Prediction: WIN (6-2)
Week 10 (November 5): at Hampton (1:00 PM)
The Hampton Pirates are another school to recently join the CAA. Coming off a 5-6 season, the Pirates were picked to finish last in the CAA (13th out of 13). We don’t know what the first season will look like for Hampton, but we do know it will likely be a rough transition to the CAA. Hampton has back to back to back games against Richmond, Villanova, and William & Mary. We don’t see them winning any of those games, including this one. Tribe gets another W that pushes them to 7-2 and propels them up the national rankings.
Predication: WIN (7-2)
Week 11 (November 12): vs. Villanova (1:00 PM)
We all remember the biggest Tribe win in quite some time a season ago when W&M went into Villanova’s house and blew out the #4 team in the nation 31-18 (and the game was even less close than that score indicates). While that was an exciting game, this is a new year. Villanova is stacked. They were picked to finish #1 in the CAA preseason poll, with 16 first-place votes. The Wildcats are getting national recognition as well after making it to the quarterfinals of the FCS playoffs last year, and are ranked #5/#6 in the entire nation in the Coaches and FCS Stats Top 25 poll.
The Wildcats strength is their offense, where they return both starting WRs Rayjoun Pringle and Jaaron Hayek. Pringle is a Preseason First Team All-CAA selection after registering 843 yards receiving and 8 touchdowns. And Hayek is no joke, either. The senior WR had 671 yards receiving last year with 9 touchdowns. The Wildcats also return both starting running backs and an All-American offensive lineman in Michael Corbi. This team is ranked #1 in the CAA for a reason, and we think last year’s upset loss to W&M will give them extra motivation in this one. The Tribe’s winning streak comes to an end.
Prediction: LOSS (7-3)
Week 12 (November 19): at Richmond (12:00 PM)
And it all comes down to this. The Capital Cup. W&M will play Richmond to close out the season in a game that will likely have HUGE playoff implications on both sides. The Spiders look to have another good team this season, and were picked to finish #4 in the CAA preseason rankings, just above W&M. Their team will likely rise and fall on the backs of their graduate transfers, including quarterback Reece Udinski (Maryland, VMI) and WR Jakob Herres (VMI). Both were named to the Walter Payton Award Watch List, an award given annually to the best player in FCS football (the Heisman of the FCS). The Spiders also boast a stout defensive front, with seven starters back on defense, including All-America linebacker and All-CAA selection Tristan Wheeler.
This is a tough game for the Tribe. Richmond has dominated W&M as of late, beating W&M 8 of the last 10 times they have played. While we hate to write this, we think the Tribe will finish the season with a loss in this one. However, if the Tribe pulls out a victory here and finishes at 8-3, they are almost guaranteed the FCS Playoffs and a BYE in the first round. Prove us wrong, Tribe!
Prediction: LOSS (7-4).
Conclusion: The Tribe has yet another tough CAA slate on the docket this year. The hardest games to pick for us were the Rhode Island and Richmond games. Those two games are of immense importance for the Tribe’s playoff implications as both teams are proven and ranked in the Top 25 nationally preseason. In our opinion, the fate of W&M’s season depends on those two games. Win them both, and we are talking about potentially a first round BYE in the FCS Playoffs for the first time in a LONG time (even the 2015 CAA Championship Team did not have a first round BYE in the FCS Playoffs). The key thing here based on our predictions in this article is whether 7-4 will be enough. We think it is, but it will be curious to see how the selection committee sees a 7-4 team that is coming off two straight loses, albeit to some of the best teams in the nation in Villanova and Richmond (as predicted in this article). In any event, we think the Tribe gets to 7-4 this year, and makes the FCS playoffs for the first time since the 2015 season. Let us know in the comments how many wins YOU think W&M will have this year. ROLL TRIBE!