For a link to The Flat Hat’s live blog of the 2009 spring game, click here: http://flathatnews.com/content/70797/football-spring-game-live-blog
A year ago, the College of William and Mary defense dominated its offensive counterpart in the program’s annual Spring Game, setting the tone for a season of redemption after a poor 2007 campaign. Saturday at Zable Stadium, the defense continued that momentum, overpowering the College’s offense once again in the 2009 version of the program’s annual coda to the spring practice season.
The defense, wearing white jerseys, registered six sacks and two interceptions in holding the offense, in green, to 21 points over four eight-minute quarters of play.
“The defense has looked good all spring, they’re very experienced,” Head Coach Jimmye Laycock said. “They were definitely a step faster.”
Junior defensive tackle Bryan Jean-Pierre, ineligible last season for academic reasons, returned to the field to lead the way on the line of scrimmage, notching a pair of sacks. Defensive backs redshirt-freshman Brian Thompson and sophomore Ryan Woolfolk provided the interceptions.
The biggest factor in the game was the defensive line. Led by senior defensive end Adrian Tracy, the unit repeatedly dominated an opposing offensive line missing several players to injury, sealing off running lanes inside and repeatedly pressuring the Tribe quarterbacks.
“It’s really tough to play against them, and it’s only making us better because I don’t know how many defenses like that we are going to see in our conference,” senior quarterback R.J. Archer said. “Today was one of the days when they were really playing fast. It’s tough to keep up with them.”
Wearing a red non-contact jersey and leading the first team offense, Archer completed six of 11 passes for 69 yards. The senior looked erratic, while being frequently harried by opposing defenders, missing several open receivers.
“One of the biggest parts of my game is that, when the line breaks down, I can make something happen, and it’s tough when I can’t do that,” Archer said. “There’s definitely room to improve, but overall we came a long way this spring, and we’ll keep working hard throughout the summer.”
Junior Mike Callahan and sophomore D.J. Mangas, competing for the backup quarterback position, posted inconsistent outings as well. Callahan completed nine of 13 passes for 112 yards, but failed to move the offense effectively, while Mangas gained 102 yards on six of 16 passing, including a 70-yard scoring drive.
“I thought they made some plays, they did some good things,” Laycock said. “They weren’t consistent and I didn’t expect that, but I wanted to see them make some plays and they did a good job of that.”
Junior wide receiver Chase Hill totaled a game high six catches for 56 yards, while junior Marshall Dill posted a breakout performance, notching several impressive grabs including a 28-yard touchdown catch.
Most importantly for the College, the contest remained injury free, capping a spring practice season remarkably devoid of major injuries. Overall, the game left the Tribe optimistic for the fall season.
“Today was definitely a step in the right direction, but we’ve got a long way to go before we’re a championship team,” Tracy said. “Come [preseason] camp, I think we’re going to be in good shape.”
Following the game, the College announced its 2009 captains, the result of a player vote. Archer, Tracy, senior defensive tackle Sean Lissemore, senior safety David Caldwell and senior tight end Rob Varno will lead the Tribe for the next year.