Football: First looks

With the College of William and Mary’s first open scrimmage now in the books, not a lot can be concluded about the 2010 team. The offense posted a solid evening against a defense employing limited coverage schemes, while quarterbacks Mike Callahan and Mike Paulus, the frontrunners in the battle for the starting job, posted promising games. For a full recap of the scrimmage, go here:

Some quick analysis:

The QB battle is not going to end Sept. 5

And it might not be over in the Tribe’s season-ending matchup against Richmond in late November. It is very possible that one of Paulus, Callahan or even Brent Caprio could seize the starting job with his play on the field. But Head Coach Jimmye Laycock sounded very clear tonight that he is not going to name a starter just for the sake of continuity. If one player doesn’t outdistance the others, all three will find themselves in a battle throughout the season.

“Somebody’s going to start, I don’t know who he is,” Laycock said. “But none of these guys have played any games, so I don’t know what’s going to happen when they get into games, even if I do name a starter. He may be a starter for three plays and he’s out of there.”

Three plays seems a bit dramatic, but it wouldn’t surprise me a bit to see Laycock change quarterbacks in the first quarter at UMass if he doesn’t like what he sees. Barring injuries or huge performances, expect Paulus and Callahan to remain in contention, at least for the opening weeks of the season.

Additionally, Laycock also indicated that Paulus and Callahan are the clear frontrunners for the job, with the redshirt freshman Caprio a clear third. That could always change, but a this point, I expect the starter to be one of the two upperclassmen.

In the scrimmage both made some very good throws and both made some mistakes.

“I though both of them made some really good plays, some really good decisions and good throws, and I thought both of them made some mistakes,” Laycock said. “Mistakes at the quarterback position are usually magnified, and that’s something we can’t do. We’ll evaluate and keep going, but both of them are showing some progress, and I thought Caprio looked good too.”

Callahan went 9-17 for 84 yards with a touchdown and pick, while Paulus posted 128 yards on 10-18 throwing with three touchdowns and a pick. Each looked accurate and made some nice touch passes, while Callahan looked a bit stronger on the deep ball. Paulus was more composed in the pocket. There’s not a lot between the two, but both look like competent options to run the offense in CAA play.

The receivers looked good

Sophomore C.J. Thomas turned in a strong performance making several good catches and an athletic touchdown grab, while quarterback turned wideout D.J. Mangas had seven catches for 78 yards and a touchdown. Mangas has been playing wide receiver for all of a week, and he will look to supplement a unit that also contains tested upperclassmen Chase Hill and Cam Dohse. Receiver was a question mark going into the season, but, with sophomore Ryan Moody also present, the Tribe has a number of players with the potential to step up as major contributors.

The defense didn’t dominate

Reason to be worried? This is the first scrimmage in my now third year covering the team that the defense hasn’t vastly outpaced the offense. When I talked to Laycock after the game, he downplayed that factor, explaining that the unit wasn’t using all of its packages and rotated in several freshmen to get a look. Defense ends Ravi Pradhanang and Marcus Hyde were also held out, but the secondary in particular looked vulnerable.

“It’s a hard week,” Laycock said. “When you go through this week with two a days and do that much work, it’s hard to tell.”

We’ll see in a couple weeks whether that is an issue of fatigue and familiarity, or effects from the loss of three NFL players from last year’s team.


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