It’s finally kickoff time on William and Mary’s 2010 season, and the Flat Hat will have you covered all afternoon. Regrettably, I haven’t been able to make the trip up to Massachusetts for the 3:30 kick, but, along with Sports Editor Mike Barnes, I’ll be watching on TV (Cox 11 in Williamsburg) from Williamsburg. We’ll be doing something a little different with the live blog today, updating with analysis and commentary at intervals throughout each quarter. Next week, we’ll be back with the normal formula for the home opener against VMI.
So catch the game either on TV or on the radio (link at Tribeathletics.com) for the play-by-play, and then follow along here for everything else. Add your comments and questions below.
In the meantime, check out the Flat Hat’s 2010 Football Preview here: http://flathatnews.com/content/73842.
The Tribe will enter Alumni Stadium led by senior Mike Callahan at quarterback and what is a revamped, but tough defense. Massachusetts has experienced numerous changes in the offseason as well, bringing in running back Justin Griffin and several other transfers to shore up a 5-6 team from a season ago. Despite the record, a trip north is always a tough endeavor for any CAA team, as the Minutemen did get off to a 5-0 start a season ago, before collapsing.
Some quick keys to the game:
1) Steady play from Callahan
The fifth-year player has never taken a collegiate snap, despite his intricate knowledge of the College’s offense. Head Coach Jimmye Laycock will need Callahan to be smart and consistent, not a game changer. If he can take care of the football and stay cool under pressure, the Tribe should be fine today.
2) The defensive line
The Tribe defensive line boasts three new starters, and today’s performance might set the tone for the defense this season. If the line can penetrate and get into the opponent’s backfield like last season, it will free up space for the College’s linebacking corps to make plays all over the field. If they can’t, UMass running back Justin Griffin could have a big day.
UMass gets the opening kick and converts a 3rd and 3, before Ravi Pradhanang collapses the pocket on a 3rd and long for a sack. That brings up 4th and 17 for the Minutemen from about their 20, and an early punt. Very good start for the defensive line.
Tribe gets the ball and a busted reverse brings up 3rd and 11. Callahan steps back coolly and zips one in to D.J. Mangas for the first. Mangas, who’s been playing wide receiver for two weeks after converting from quarterback, catches the first pass of the year for the Tribe. On another 3rd and 4, Callahan converts again, swinging a short pass to Grimes, bringing the Tribe down to the UMass 30.
Another catch for Mangas picks up 10 and a first down, and the Tribe is inside the 20, moving very well. Third and a long 1 at the 10, and Callahan hands off to Grimes, who gets some tough yards.
Callahan runs play action and swings a pass to Jimmy Hobson at the goalline. The fullback is uncovered, and the Tribe is on the board in 2010. Easy drive for Callahan, converting several medium to long range third downs with passes. Great start for the Tribe offense, as the Minutemen never came close to a stop.
12 plays, 50 yards, 6:09
4:45 left in the 1st quarter
Tribe 7, UMass 0
UMass comes right back and quarterback Kyle Havens picks up a couple quick first downs. A sweep right to Jonathan Hernandez goes for another 10 yards, and the Minutemen are clicking offensively. But then Brian Jean-Pierre busts in and forces a fumble on 3rd and 1 that is recovered by safety Brian Thompson. Big play for the Tribe defense there, but UMass was having some success running on them, something that was not seen at all in 2009.
The Tribe can’t complete a 3rd and 1, and David Miller booms his first punt of the season down to the UMass 15. Callahan is still looking very good, however, he’s hit on 6 of his 8 passes, with 50 or so yards and a touchdown.
UMass back on offense and gets a first down on a couple plays, before Griffin takes off on a 20-yard run through the right side, into Tribe territory. This defense has been run on more in the first quarter today, than they did all last season. I’m not sure they gave up a 20-yard carry last year.
And that will be the end of the first quarter. The College is looking very strong offensively so far, but the defense is still finding its feet. Keep an eye on the play of the defensive line from here on out. They’ve had a rough start, and we’ll see how Defensive Coordinator Bob Shoop adjusts.
Touchdown UMass. Havens rolls left and throws one deep to Anthony Nelson in the back of the end zone. Both Terrell Wells and Ben Cottingham were there on the coverage, but Nelson got a step on both and reeled in the very good throw. That ties this game up at 7, and we’ve got a ballgame here.
Jonathan Grimes takes the kickoff in the end zone and very nearly takes it back for a touchdown. The kicker finally takes him down around the Tribe 45 with what looked like a facemask, but that was the last guy. Strong start today for the junior.
Two runs from Grimes and Terrence Riggins get four yards and its 3rd and 6. Callahan throws left and its very nearly a pick-six on a pass intended for Mangas. Dangerous moment there for the senior.
Miller booms the punt 60 yards into the end zone, and UMass will take over at their 20, very much with the momentum on their side.
Hernandez takes a carry 10 yards around the right side, before another run goes for 5. The Tribe defensive line cannot seem to stop the running game at this point. After a botched snap, the College blitzes on third down, and its picked up perfectly by the Minutemen offensive line. Havens throws deep to a wide open receiver, but its overthrown. Would have been a touchdown if it was caught, and the Tribe dodged a bullet.
College goes back on offense, and immediately moves into UMass territory on a fantastic catch by Cam Dohse. He went back and got it when tightly covered by his defender. On 3rd and 8 from the 28, Callahan goes deep and Ryan Woolfolk can’t pull it in.
Laycock goes for it, and Callahan just introduced himself to the CAA. On 4th down, he’s blitzed and hit hard by a defender. He shrugs off his tackler, and takes off down the left side, going 28 yards and diving into the end zone for the touchdown. Heck of a run by the diminutive quarterback, as he showed good speed and wiped out a defender crossing the goalline. Tribe fans have to love that one.
The extra point snap is botched (which has been a theme from fall practice), so it’s 13-7 Tribe.
Callahan is now 8-13 for 89 yards and a touchdown, plus the very difficult touchdown run. He got drilled crossing the goalline, but is fine.
UMass is moving the ball well, marching efficiently down into Tribe territory. From the 5-yard line, Griffin takes the handoff and bulls into the end zone, tieing up the game. UMass is actually able to get the snap off, and they go up 14-13. The tough start for the College’s defense continues, and the Tribe will have about 95 seconds left in the half to get some points.
Laycock runs the ball, going against the wind, and he seems content to get to halftime down a point. Callahan does go deep once on second down, but it’s tipped away on a pass intended for Chase Hill. Mangas makes a catch over the middle across the 40 for a first down, and the Tribe calls a timeout with 35 seconds left in the half.
UMass 14, Tribe 13
UMass is giving the Tribe a big break. With 20 seconds left in the half, the College is now down inside the Minutement 15 due to two late-hit penalties and a few completions from Callahan. Set to get the ball back after halftime, the Tribe will have a chance to score here. Three penalties for 48 yards for UMass, 0 for the Tribe.
On first down, Callahan nearly found Hill in the corner of the end zone, but it was batted away at the last second by the quarterback. On second down, Grimes makes a fantastic catch down a tthe 1, where it will be first and goal with 9 seconds left. From the 1, Callahan hits Dohse in the numbers, but he’s drilled and can’t bring it in. He should have caught that one, and the Tribe will kick.
Miller drills the field goal from the 1, and the Tribe goes up 16-14 to end the half.
Great drive there by Callahan and the Tribe, although it should have ended in six if Dohse can bring that ball in.
HALFTIME: Tribe 16, UMass 14
After 30 minutes of the Tribe’s season, there are already plenty of positives and negatives for the squad. We’ll start with the good. Senior quarterback Mike Callahan looks fantastic, guiding the Tribe on three separate scoring drives, going 80 yards in 98 seconds on the final one. He’s been efficient, accurate (with the exception of one near-pick) and downright dangerous under center. Junior tailback Jonathan Grimes has looked very strong as well, contributing both as a runner and pass catcher, although he hasn’t had much room in the center of the field. Junior D.J. Mangas has been consistent at wideout in his first game as a receiver, hauling in a number of balls, including a couple first downs. Overall, the Tribe offense has looked efficient and well-oiled, marching down the field several times against a UMass defense which is back on its heels.
The other side of the ball is a different story. UMass tailbacks Justin Griffin and Jonathan Hernandez have run all over the Tribe defense, a unit which averaged only 63 yards allowed on the ground last season. QB Kyle Havens has had success through the air as well, tossing a long touchdown and taking care of the football. Most concerningly, the defense has generated very little penetration into the Minutement backfield, and has been dominated by the UMass offensive line.
The College has earned its 16 points and deserves to be on top at the half (it should be 20-14 if Cam Dohse hand’t dropped a touchdown pass right before the half). But Defensive Coordinator Bob Shoop is going to need to make some adjustments at halftime to control the UMass offense. The Tribe offense is looking strong, but another 14 point half for UMass would not leave Head Coach Jimmye Laycock happy. Halftime adjustments have been a strength of the Tribe the last few seasons, and we’ll see what Laycock and Shoop can do after halftime.
First Half Stats
60 rush yards
131 pass yards
14 first downs
13:58 time of possession
Grimes takes the kickoff, and a block on the back forces the Tribe to take it from the 10. The College then goes 3 and out, after Hill can’t quite pull in a ball on the sideline. Nice effort by the senior, though.
Miller then booms a 70-yard punt into the wind from inside his own 20. Wow. After a short return, UMass will take over at their 27. On 3rd and 7, Shoop dials up a blitz, and it’s effective, as Havens badly overthrows a covered receiver. Good start by the Tribe defense this half, forcing their first 3 and out of the game. B.W. Webb makes the fair catch around his own 20, and it’s back to the Tribe.
On first down, Hobson is tackled while attempting to make a catch, but the referee inexplicably waves off the pass interference call (literally, because his microphone doesn’t seem to be working). On second down, Moody opens his tally for 2010, making a nice catch on the sideline as Callahan got drilled outside of the pocket. Callahan then drops in a pass to Alex Gottlieb for a first down. He’s continuing his great day, staying steady in the pocket, and finding his open receivers. He’s now 16 of 25 for 150 yards and a touchdown, plus the touchdown run. He then finds Woolfolk over the middle, but the receiver is drilled and can’t pull it in. Hit him in the hands.
Grimes takes a delayed handoff and picks up five yards. Keith Hill came off and was shaken up a few plays ago, but he walked off and seems to be alright.
And there’s Callahan’s first bad throw of the afternoon. He had Chase Hill open for a first down on 3rd and 5, but overthrew him badly. That leads to a mediocre Miller punt, where it goes out of bounds at the 17. UMass ball.
On 3rd and 10, Havens picks up a big first down on a completion to Anthony Nelson. Nice throw under pressure in the pocket. The Minutemen pick up another first down on a run. UMass now goes hurry up, and it’s working. A few plays later and they’re down to the Tribe 30. Two plays bring up a huge 3rd and 2, and UMass calls a timeout to talk it over. The defense forces an incompletion and fourth down, but DT Mike Stover is down on the field. He got his ankle stepped on from behind, and the Tribe will hope this isn’t serious.
UMass goes for it, and Havens picks it up on a quick pass to the tight end. Shoop blitzed, and Havens beats it with the quick dump-off. The Tribe needs somebody to step up and make a big play defensively now.
Another play, and another 10 yard run. This defense is getting run over right now, and this is very surprising. The next play gets another 7 or 8 up the middle. Hernandez has 11 carries for 74 yards, over 6 yards a carry.
Now comes a huge 3rd and 12 from the 17. UMass runs up the middle, and almost picks it up, as Griffin gets 10 yards down to the 7.
And a HUGE mistake by Kyle Havens! The quarterback ran a play action bootleg and picked up the first down easily. But then he inexplicably tried to throw a pass to his tight end, which is batted away. To cap it off, he was in front of the line of scrimmage to being with when he released the ball. He had actually picked up the first down and probably could have walked into the end zone. But the mistake gives the the Tribe the ball at the 12 (with the penalty), and that is going to be an absolutely gigantic play in this game.
Now comes Jon Grimes. The junior takes a couple handoffs and gets big chunk of yards, with a late hit on the second carry taking the Tribe out across the 40.
That’ll do it for the third quarter, with the Havens mistake completely turning the tide of this game.
End of third quarter, Tribe 16, UMass 14
Callahan opens the fourth quarter by finding Gottlieb 25 yards down the field to bring the Tribe within the 35. On the next play, he goes deep to Cam Dohse at the goalline, dropping in a beautiful pass to the senior for the score at the goalline. Callahan is absolutely on fire right now, he’s up over 200 yards passing, with 2 passing touchdowns and another running, on what is the play of the game right now. The 40-yard bomb caps it off, and puts the Tribe up 23-14.
The Havens mistake looms even bigger now. It should be 21-16 UMass, but instead, five plays later, it’s 23-14 Tribe.
UMass comes back, and is quickly within Tribe territory. A good kick return is followed by a run and a medium-range completion to get within the 45 with 13:10 to go. As good as the Tribe offense has looked, the defense has looked surprisingly vulnerable.
A stuff at the line, and then Evan Francks almost picks off a tipped pass. That brings up 3rd and 10, where Havens flips a pass to Hernandez for five yards. UMass will go for it on 4th and 5 from the 35 and gets it. Big play. Two plays later, and Hernandez breaks a carry for 11 yards, after being hit in the backfield. The Tribe absolutely has to wrap up the ballcarrier defensively, and they are just not up to the task of stopping the run right now. It’s still shocking to see the College getting dominated up the middle.
Hernandez runs a stunt right and takes it down to the 3, running right over B.W. Webb in the process. He’s now over 100 yards for the game. I believe the last time that happened against the Tribe was Rodney Landers for JMU in 2008. Two plays later, he takes it in for the score to cap the drive.
The Tribe had a chance to ice this game on the fourth down play, but couldn’t come up with the stop. They then proceeded to get run over, as UMass ran the ball right into the end zone.
It’s Tribe 23, UMass 21, and we’ll see if Callahan can equal next. 9 minutes to go in the 4th quarter.
Grimes takes the kickoff from the goalline out across the 35. He’s looked very strong on returns tonight. Two plays pick up five yards, leading to a big 3rd and 5 with 8 minutes to go. Callahan goes to Grimes, but it’s slightly high, and he can’t pull it in. It would have been a tough catch, but one that Grimes will be angry he didn’t make. Miller booms the punt down into the 10.
But UMass runs into the kicker, and that gives the Tribe a huge first down. The Minutemen probably should be winning this game right now, but they’ve killed themselves with mistakes of their own infliction.
Laycock goes back to Grimes, and he picks up 7 to get across the 50 into UMass territory. He’s then hit behind the line on a pitch, to lose a few and bring up another 3rd and 5. Swing pass to Grimes, and he’s stacked up by three defenders. It’ll be fourth down again.
Miller hits a mediocre punt, and it’s fair caught at the 18. UMass actually gained 8 yards with that running into the kicker penalty. They’ll go back to Hernandez, who picks up 7 yards on a pair of carries, bringing up 3rd and 3.
And then Hernandez breaks a huge one. Havens rolls back and drops a screen to the back, who rumbles all the way inside the Tribe 10, before being taken down by Terrell Wells. The Tribe defense was caught completely off guard there, and they’re now under a lot of pressure with 4 minutes to play. UMass takes a timeout inside field goal range, down 23-21.
Another carry up the middle goes for 6, and UMass is down to the 5. One more play and Griffin runs right over the middle of the Tribe defense for the touchdown. Complete collapse by the Tribe defense late in this game.
UMass goes for two to try to go up by 6, but it’s knocked away.
It’s UMass 27-23, and Mike Callahan is going to need to lead a last second touchdown Tribe in his first career start to give the College the win.
Disaster on the kickoff for the Tribe. UMass kicks away from Grimes, and Meltoya Jones bobbles it, eventually getting tackled a the 10. Callahan has 3:16 to lead the Tribe 90 yards for a touchdown here.
Tries to go to Gottlieb, and it’s errant. He’s lucky it wasn’t picked off. Completes one to Dohse on the right side for 8, bringing up 3rd and 2. Callahan then rolls out and scrambles to pick up the first, with 2:36 to go.
And that’s going to do it. Callahan dumps an ill-advised pass over the middle and it’s bobbled by Grimes. It falls right to a UMass linebacker, who has the interception handed to him. UMass ball in Tribe territory with 2 minutes to go.
UMass runs the ball three times, and gets about 9 yards and 2 feet, bringing up 4th and inches with 1:43 to go. The Minutemen run it one more time, and pick up the margin easily, in a fitting ending to this contest. The Tribe has been completely unable to stop UMass, yielding well over 200 yards rushing. It could be a long season for this defense if they don’t make some adjustments, and soon.
Two kneels and that does it. The Tribe drops its opener 27-23 to Massachusetts, losing this one in the fourth quarter.
Stay tuned for a game story and full analysis and commentary on Flathatnews.com.