Commentary: Quarterback controversy

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October 29, 2013

1:31 AM

William and Mary had been here before. The Tribe defense turned in one impressive stop after another while the College’s offense could barely move the ball — let alone hold on to it.  Three lost fumbles highlighted the Tribe’s efforts, as they trailed James Madison 7-3 early in the third quarter.

The game turned unexpectedly. Senior quarterback Michael Graham left the game following a vicious strip-sack.  Cue senior Brent Caprio, the injury-prone former starting quarterback. Caprio completed five of his first six passes, including a 28-yard touchdown strike that gave the Tribe a 10-7 lead — a lead it wouldn’t relinquish.

While Graham struggled to complete 11 passes for 92 yards, Caprio shined in a six-of-eight, 88-yard passing performance.  Although making a quarterback change midseason is difficult, head coach Jimmye Laycock should consider Caprio for the starting job based on his impressive relief performance. Looking at the passing alone, Caprio deserves the job.

Graham has performed admirably for stretches of the College’s schedule, especially in an impressive season-opening loss at West Virginia. Despite this, Graham is completing just 53.3 percent of his passes, averaging a paltry 6.5 yards per attempt.  Downfield throws have been a challenge, allowing opposing teams to load up against the College’s running game. Over the season, Graham has managed just 123.6 yards per game and has only thrown for five touchdowns.

Regardless of his 4-2 record, Graham hasn’t been electrifying. The College succeeded Saturday, and this season, despite Graham — not because of him. After Caprio picked apart a Dukes defense that flummoxed Graham, it’s hard to make the case for Graham to retain the starting job.

At the very least, there’s no question Caprio was better Saturday. Caprio made quick decisions, looked completely comfortable running the Tribe offense, and executed accurate, quick throws.  While Graham struggles with deep throws, Caprio was particularly strong on throws over 10 yards, critical in opening up the field for the College’s running game.

Laycock should have Caprio start this Saturday, when the College hosts the University of New Hampshire. At the very least, Caprio would be able to replicate Graham’s play, if not drastically improve the offense’s performance. If Saturday’s Homecoming game indicates anything, keeping Caprio on the bench would be detrimental to the College’s offensive potential.

Football is a cruel sport, and fortunes change quickly for both teams and players.  Three Tribe players left the James Madison game injured. All three struggled to walk off the field, swarmed by trainers. While the teams returned to action seconds later, Graham was left nursing an injury and watching what could be the end of his collegiate career.

It’s not fair that Graham lost his starting position because of a frightening sack. On the other hand, Caprio’s command, poise and skill should prove too much potential for Laycock to leave on the bench.

Even if Caprio doesn’t start the rest of the year, he can hang his hat on delivering  a Homecoming win in his final act. Caprio rallied a Tribe team facing a deficit with nothing to build on after a punch-less start. If it was just a relief appearance, Caprio made the most of it.  If it was an audition, Caprio nailed it.

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About Author

Mick Sloan

Senior staff writer Mick Sloan '15 is a government major from Arlington, Va. He was previously Sports Editor and Associate Sports Editor.

(1) Reader Comment

  1. Jake
    November 1, 2013 at 11:46 AM

    Hey Mick, where is your head? Toting the title "Flat Hat Associate Sports EDITOR" one would assume you've at least heard of journalistic integrity, but clearly you missed that memo. I'm not sure where along the line in the writing, editing, or publishing process that you saw this debasing trash as appropriate. This is an attack. "While Graham struggled to complete...", "The college succeeded despite Graham- not because of him", "Graham hasn't been electrifying." Mike Graham has led his team, despite a struggling offense and injuries, to the best record they've had in years. The Tribe is a legit contender in a heated playoff race. The successes far outweigh the negatives. Throw any stat you want into your irrelevant editorial, at the end of the day the Mike Graham led Tribe Football program is 4-2 and poised for continued success. How about acknowledging that? Or, maybe, treating a fellow student with some degree of respect? I'm sure you feel very high and mighty behind your keyboard, but just because you watch Sportscenter and rode the pine on a your junior varsity football team doesn't qualify you to talk football and certainly doesn't give you the right to attack a student athlete. Remember Mick, no one cares what you have to say. So next time you type up a load of biased, unsupported horse shit about a William and Mary student athlete think about pressing 'delete', rather than 'publish.'

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