Tribe get bye before FBS matchup but face motivated Virginia
(STATS) - William & Mary got an extra week to prepare an upset bid for its FBS opponent. Part of that involved watching Virginia suffer a heartbreaking loss, one that longtime coach Jimmye Laycock surely didn't enjoy.
Not only because Cavaliers coach Mike London is his former assistant, but because the Tribe now have to face a frustrated power conference team which certainly won't overlook its CAA opposition.
As William & Mary was on a bye last weekend, Virginia blew a late lead against Notre Dame and lost 34-27 on Irish backup quarterback DeShone Kizer's 39-yard touchdown pass with 12 seconds left. Considering that dropped the Cavaliers to 0-2 - both to AP top-15 teams - that leaves them more desperate to win and less likely to get caught looking ahead to facing previously ranked Boise State next week.
"We need to get a win. I've come in here on Sunday two weeks in a row, and just the mood is not a place I'd want to be at all on a Sunday," senior defensive end Trent Corney said.
Whereas London called Virginia's latest defeat "devastating", Laycock would likely be pleased with a close loss to a high-profile foe. That was enough to push Jacksonville State to the top of the latest STATS FCS poll - following an overtime loss at Auburn - and a similar result could catapult the Tribe into the rankings after nearly getting enough votes this week.
"We're really going against a very good team, a very talented team, a team that has played extremely hard," Laycock said. "They went right to the end last week against Notre Dame - a top-10 team - and probably should have won it. There's a lot of concerns, but we've got to take care of ourselves."
Laycock's teams have done reasonably well visiting nearby FBS schools in recent seasons. Though the Tribe lost 34-9 at Virginia Tech last year, it was an 11-point game deep into the third quarter despite a dreadful starting debut for current quarterback Steve Cluley. They fell 24-17 at West Virginia on a late touchdown in 2013 and lost 7-6 at Maryland in 2012.
William & Mary even beat the Cavaliers 26-14 in 2009, the year before London took over. The programs' last meeting is also the last time an FBS foe truly dominated the Tribe, with Virginia winning 40-3 in 2011.
London served as William & Mary's defensive line coach under Laycock from 1991-94.
"I have a tremendous amount of respect for coach Laycock," said London, who lost two matchups against him as Richmond coach in 2008 and '09. "... I have been on the other side, an FCS coach playing a BCS school. I've been on the side of winning those games as well. The thing for us is even what the captains talked about is, 'We don't care who we're playing.' This is more about us winning the football game, playing on all cylinders."
London's defense has been burned for 68 points and 963 yards, a trend Cluley and tailback Mikal Abdul-Saboor would like to continue. Cluley looked good in a season-opening 34-7 win at Lafayette, going 20 for 30 for 289 yards with two touchdowns and one interception, while Abdul-Saboor had a sixth straight 100-yard game and two TDs.
"We're practicing hard, we gotta practice fast," Cluley said, "because I promise you, UVA is gonna be coming."
A look at all the Week 3 games in the CAA (all times ET):
Reigning FCS offensive player of the year John Robertson wants to shake off a slow start as the No. 6 Wildcats open conference play seeking the 600th win in school history. Robertson has been limited to 314 yards passing and 115 rushing with averages of 6.28 yards per pass attempt and 2.9 per carry, well off his 2014 marks of 9.46 and 4.7. Villanova, which beat No. 18 Fordham last week, trailed late at Delaware last year before Robertson's 21-yard TD pass to Kevin Gulyas with 23 seconds left provided the difference. The Blue Hens have lost eight of the past nine meetings and are having problems at quarterback.
Losers in 17 of 18, the Rams appear headed for another blowout loss as they face a 25th-ranked Crimson team opening its season after going 10-0 in 2014. Rhode Island is the only CAA team to drop its first two games, getting outscored 82-7 by Syracuse and Albany while committing 10 turnovers. Paul Mroz ranks 98th of 108 qualifying quarterbacks in passer rating at 77.4.
Albany (1-1) at James Madison (2-0), 3 p.m.
The 12th-ranked Dukes have topped 50 points in both wins and lead the FCS with 665.5 yards per game. All-American Vad Lee is among the top three in completion percentage (75.0) and total yards (786), while Khalid Abdullah and Cardon Johnson each have 197 on the ground with a combined eight TDs. At Albany last year, Lee led the Dukes on an eight-play, 48-yard drive in 46 seconds to set up the winning field goal with four seconds left in a 31-28 win. The Great Danes aren't expected to come so close this time, having already allowed 50 points once this season - at Syracuse - before shutting down woeful Rhode Island last week.
William & Mary (1-0) at Virginia (0-2), 3:30 p.m.
The Tribe's top concern defensively will be quarterback Matt Johns. The junior has played well against a pair of good defenses in UCLA and Notre Dame, completing 64.4 percent of his passes for 527 yards and three touchdowns. The Cavaliers hold a 27-6-1 lead in the all-time series.
The Phoenix enter their home opener having already matched their win total from last season following a triple-overtime victory over Gardner-Webb. They led North Carolina A&T in the fourth quarter last September before losing 17-12. Tarik Cohen tore up Elon for a career-high 234 rushing yards that day, and he remains the Aggies' top threat offensively with 175 yards on 36 carries this year. The Phoenix have allowed 396 yards rushing in two games and have totaled just 360 yards of offense.
Richmond (1-1) vs. VMI (1-1), 6 p.m.
The 22nd-ranked Spiders are 22-1 against nonconference FCS foes in the past decade and have won 11 in a row over VMI since 1997, taking the last two by an 81-6 score. This one also should be a laugher with Richmond playing its home opener against a Keydets squad which has lost 28 consecutive road games. Spiders sophomore Kyle Lauletta looks for a strong follow-up to his career-best performance after going 20 of 32 for 247 yards and two touchdowns in last week's comeback win over Hampton.
Senior Connor Frazier has notched the highest passing yardage totals of his career in the first two games, reigning CAA rushing champion Darius Victor already has 235 yards on the ground and the Tigers offense is off to a fast start. They even had 416 yards in a close season-opening loss to FBS foe East Carolina. The Crusaders, coming off a bye week, head into Johnny Unitas Stadium having lost the last three meetings with Towson by a combined 121-30 score.
Though the Seawolves looked better against their FBS foe, New Hampshire is expected to leave LaValle Stadium with a 12th straight conference victory. The 13th-ranked Wildcats were dominated in a 43-13 loss at San Jose State before rolling past Colgate behind a career-high 96 rushing yards and TD from Dalton Crossan, who grew up a stone's throw from Stony Brook in Lake Ronkonkoma. The Seawolves were within 16-7 at halftime at Mid-American Conference favorite Toledo when the game was called due to bad weather, and they routed Central Connecticut State last week behind Stacey Bedell's 133 rushing yards and three TDs. The CAA offensive player of the week was held to 53 yards on 17 carries in last year's 28-20 home loss to New Hampshire, which is 3-0 in the all-time series.
The Black Bears seemingly have an excellent chance to improve upon their 2-13 record against FBS programs. Maine's only game this season came against one, and coach Jack Cosgrove's team was within a touchdown in the fourth quarter before losing 24-3 to Boston College on Sept. 5. The bye gave Cosgrove extra time to get ready for Tulane, which has lost to Duke and Georgia Tech by a combined 102-17 score while giving up 1,101 yards.