More struggles against Maine, but another win
Coming off a dramatic 24-21 victory over Maine Saturday night, Head Coach Jimmye Laycock reiterated that although the team looked good in spurts, it is struggling to play consistently well.
“We played about three quarters of very so-so football, and Maine played very well,” Laycock said. “I didn’t think we were very sharp by any stretch [of imagination].”
But he was proud of the way the team fought back from deficits in the fourth quarter to end up on top. He felt that an interception in the second quarter and a fumble on a fourth quarter punt return were two strange plays which the offense had to overcome.
Laycock was pleased that the Tribe was able to scratch out a win for the second straight week. This time, the College benefited from the leadership of junior backup quarterback Mike Paulus, who entered the game in the fourth quarter after starter Mike Callahan left the game with a shoulder injury.
“For us to come back like we did in the second half I thought was quite an effort by a lot of our players,” Laycock said. “It was exciting and it also gave our players a sense of confidence that when we’re doing things right we can be successful, but on the same token when we’re not, we can’t be.”
After physical games against Old Dominion and Maine, the College will be without several key players this weekend against Villanova.
Senior quarterback Mike Callahan will be out for at least two weeks with a shoulder injury, although it is unclear exactly what type of injury he sustained. He will be replaced by Paulus, who will be making the first start of his career at the College.
Junior running back Jonathan Grimes was “banged up” in the game against Maine, and is questionable for this week’s contest against Villanova. He will be helped by senior Courtland Marriner who had ten carries for 36 yards and a score.
“We’re banged up as a lot of people are in this point of the season,” Laycock said. “We need to get healthy, we need to get better, and we need to get ready to play.”
Tribe gets another shot at the Wildcats
This weekend features a huge home matchup against No. 1 Villanova, who beat the Tribe twice last year, including a thrilling game in the FCS National Semifinal game.
“They are a very talented team,” Laycock said. “They have 15 or 16 starters back from last year’s team which won the national championship so that presents a challenge to us. This will be an exciting game and we look forward to the challenge.”
The College is undefeated in its past seven contests at Zable Stadium, the last of which was a 45-0 thrashing of VMI on September 11.
To keep this streak alive, one of the keys may be to win the turnover margin, an area where the College has traditionally faltered against the Wildcats. Over the past four meetings, the Tribe committed eight turnovers while Villanova has not yielded a single one.
“We have got to get turnovers against them,” Laycock said. “When opportunities present themselves, we’ve got to get on the ball.”
The game, which is already sold out, will be played at 3:30 on Saturday.
Editor’s note: This report originally characterized junior tailback Jonathan Grimes as “likely to start” Saturday against Villanova. That was in error, and his status is questionable.