Since William and Mary dominated Stony Brook 21-0 last week at Zable Stadium, all eyes have been on the Tribe. The Colonial Athletic Association has been waiting to see how the team will follow up its performance. This Saturday, Delaware will host the College in Newark, Del., for another chapter in the long-standing rivalry between the two schools.
The Tribe (2-1, 1-0 CAA) is now ranked No. 25/22 in the Football Championship Subdivision entering the College’s fourth game of the season. The Blue Hens (1-3, 0-1 CAA) are unranked and near the bottom of the conference standings, but recent history cautions against a blowout. In 2014, the Tribe was No. 18 and won just 24-10 over unranked Delaware. Since 2008, the College has only fallen to the Blue Hens twice in seven games, both when Delaware was ranked higher than the William and Mary.
“We’ve had a lot of big games with [Delaware] throughout the years,” head coach Jimmye Laycock aid to Tribe Athletics.
It is still early in the conference slate with six more CAA matchups after this, but every game matters since the Tribe’s last two seasons have come down to a single CAA loss bumping it from FCS playoff contention.
Last week, the Blue Hens traveled to Chapel Hill, N.C., to face North Carolina, a Football Bowl Subdivision team in the Atlantic Coast Conference with the likes of Virginia and Virginia Tech. Delaware lost 41-14 to the Tar Heels for its third loss of the fall. The week before,, Delaware fell to No. 6/3 Villanova — a team expected to make another run for the FCS title — for a conference loss. Even with the Wildcats’ star quarterback John Robertson sustaining a late injury, Delaware could not mount a late comeback and lost by a touchdown.
Stony Brook had one of the top defenses in the FCS, and William and Mary routed them easily, most notably in the rushing game with junior runningback Kendell Anderson. Anderson leads the College in rushing with 281 yards, two touchdowns and 93.7 average rushing yards per game. Expect to see a mix of Anderson and senior tailback Mikal Abdul-Saboor throughout the game this weekend. Junior quarterback Steve Cluley and the rest of the offense will face a strong defensive presence from the Blue Hens, but with a healthy offensive line, he should have plenty of time to make plays as seen in last week’s game.
Delaware’s defense is better at stuffing the run, as it has only allowed 406 rushing yards while surrendering a stunning 1,126 passing yards through just four games. Considering Delaware’s struggles in the secondary, the Tribe will likely focus on its passing game, with Cluley using his most popular targets — sophomores wideout DeVonte Dedmon and tight end Andrew Caskin — to reach the endzone. Offensively, the Blue Hens elect to run the ball most of the time, racking up 904 rushing yards in four games. Leading the Delaware offense is running back Thomas Jefferson with a net 275 yards, three touchdowns and an average 68.8 yards per game.
“This looks to be a very talented team, a team that probably runs the ball a little more than throws it, [and is] very good on defense,” Laycock said to Tribe Athletics.
However, the Tribe defense has been quick to stop rushing plays during the first month of the season, only giving up 263 yards while the College offense rushed 640 yards so far. On average, Delaware scores 17 points per game while allowing 24.5, while the Tribe scores 28 per game while allowing 14. The College is favored in the matchup for the third year in a row. Laycock said that the Tribe is preparing for the challenge after last week’s win.
“We’ve just got to regroup and rest,” Laycock said to Tribe Athletics.
The game kicks off Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at Delaware Stadium and will be broadcast live on NBC Sports Network.