William and Mary, fresh off a 15-9 loss to the Colonial Athletic Association’s top rush attack No. 7 Towson, faces the conference’s best aerial attack in longtime-foe Richmond Saturday.
While a win would likely ensure post-season play, a loss would almost certainly end the Tribe season. Of more immediate concern, however, is Richmond’s signal caller.
Richmond quarterback Michael Strauss enters the contest having led the Spiders to three consecutive wins, including last week’s 46-43 upset over then-ranked No. 21 Delaware.
Strauss, back-to-back CAA Offensive Player of the Week, has racked up 903 yards, 10 touchdowns and a single interception while completing 75 percent of his passes over the past two weeks.
“[Richmond] is playing very well. Their quarterback, Strauss, is just lighting it up. He’s throwing it everywhere, and it’s on target,” head coach Jimmye Laycock told Tribe Athletics. “They’re going to put a lot of stress on our defense with the way they’re throwing and catching the ball.”
Strauss will face Tribe senior safety Jerome Couplin, who was named to the Buck Buchanan Award Watch List last Friday. The Buchanan Award annually recognizes the nation’s top Football Championship Subdivision defensive player.
“We’re playing very well defensively, it’s been well noted. Again, we’re going against a different type of offense — the fact that they throw the ball, and throw the ball so well — they’re going to complete some passes,” Laycock told Tribe Athletics. “We can’t let them have the big plays.”
Offensively, Laycock emphasizes the need for more productive possessions. Senior quarterback Brent Caprio and the offense managed just three field goals in last week’s loss.
“Offensively, we have to generate a little more offense. We can’t settle for field goals when in the red zone; we have to punch it in and get some scores,” Laycock told Tribe Athletics.
Saturday’s game marks the 123rd game between the College and Richmond, a series known as “the oldest rivalry in the South.” The Spiders won 21-14 last year at Zable Stadium.
“For the last regular season game, it’s always important to have one that’s very meaningful. Obviously, there’s a lot at stake for this game,” Laycock told Tribe Athletics. “We’ve had some big games with Richmond in the past, and I’m sure this will be another one.”
Kick-off is set for 4 p.m. at Robins Stadium in Richmond, Va. Saturday.