Midweek news as the Tribe prepares to face Rhode Island this Saturday.
Halfway through Saturday’s contest against JMU, the Tribe was given a brief scare when senior wideout D.J. McAulay went down with a shoulder injury. At the time, the team was unsure of the extent.
Today, head coach Jimmye Laycock explained that McAulay’s injury was not serious, and would not require surgery. The receiver was held out of practice on Monday and Tuesday, and his status will be reevaluated on a day-to-day basis.
“You can never tell on Monday and Tuesday who is going to be ready to play on Saturday,” Laycock said. “Too many things change as the week progresses, so we’ll see.”
One of the keys behind the Tribe victory on Saturday was sophomore tailback Jonathan Grimes’ spectacular performance. Grimes thrashed the JMU defense with a career high 158 yards on 20 carries, including a key 61-yard romp in the first quarter.
On Monday, Grimes was named the CAA Co-Offensive Player of the Week. He shared the honor with Northeastern tailback John Griffin.
In May 2009, the Tribe graduated one of its greatest-ever defensive backs in Derek Cox. During his senior season at the College, Cox tutored his replacement, B.W. Webb with hopes that he would have similar success.
“He was kind of a mentor to me. I followed most of the things he did,” Webb said. “My coaches told me to do everything he does on the field.”
In his first ever start, Webb wasted no time in impressing his mentor by exploding onto the scene with three interceptions against U-Va. Since then, Webb has become a top performer, week in and week out.
Webb is a vital piece of the Tribe’s top ranked defensive unit. Besides playing alongside veteran members of the College secondary in senior safety David Caldwell and junior corner Ben Cottingham, Webb credits his successes to the Tribe’s imposing defensive line.
“It takes a lot of pressure off of our shoulders knowing that a run isn’t going to spit out and we won’t have to break off our receivers,” Webb said.
In addition to his duties as a defensive back, Webb’s speed led the coaching staff to make him a punt returner as well. Webb often channels some of the NFL’s greats for pregame inspiration.
“Before the game, I sometimes watch [Chicago Bears punt returner] Devin Hester and [Philadelphia Eagles returner] DeSean Jackson,” he said. “Those are the two guys I really like to watch punt returning.”
This week, the College takes its 3-1 conference record on the road to Kingston, R.I. to face Rhode Island University. The Rams are currently 0-4 in the CAA and 1-6 overall with their only win coming in their opening game against Fordham University nearly two months ago.
Last year, the Tribe defeated the Rams 34-24 in Williamsburg. However, the Rams flattened the College 48-29 in the Tribe’s last visit to Kingston in 2005. With a win, the College would secure its fifth-straight victory over a CAA North opponent and its 13th straight over an unranked FCS foe.
“They have struggled a little bit, but they have played a lot of teams very, very close,” Laycock said. “They played us very close last year. We were down to them at halftime. They are still working on their identity, but they play hard.”
Defensively, the Tribe will face a drastically different offense in Rhode Island as opposed to JMU. The Rams run a west coast-style offense that spreads the ball around to a variety of wide receivers compared to the Duke’s grounded rushing attack.
Offensively, the Tribe will focus on continuing to display the potent mix of run and pass that has contributed to such a good start.
“We just need to come out and play our game,” sophomore offensive lineman Jake Marcey said. “We are the no. 1 offense in the league, we just need to play like the no.1 offense in the league.”