What can William and Mary take from it’s resounding 45-0 home win over VMI? A lot. And a little.
The College looked sound in nearly all segments of the game, a significant break from its week one road loss to Massachusetts. Senior quarterback Mike Callahan was steady and on target, throwing for 234 yards and a touchdown on efficient 12-17 passing. Junior tailback Jonathan Grimes looked powerful in racking up 71 yards and 3 touchdowns on the ground. And the defensive secondary, in particular, had a big rebound performance after displaying weaknesses against UMass. Sophomore safety Brian Thompson recorded two of the Tribe’s five interceptions, while redshirt freshman safety Jerome Couplin took one back for a score.
But the opponent must be taken into consideration. For much of the evening, VMI looked awful, dropping easy passes and having difficulty wrapping up the Tribe ballcarriers. Keydet quarterbacks Cameron Jones and Eric Kordenbrock were a collective 10-31 passing, with five interceptions.
Ultimately, however, the College did what it had to do in obliterating a weaker opponent. While nothing was proven Saturday evening, the Tribe did everything it could to clear the taste of the UMass loss from its mouth. Playing sound, unrelenting football against all teams is what great teams do, and, while the College did not mark itself as a great team tonight, the evening was a necessary step on that process. There are still areas for concern — the shaky defensive line looked porous, at times, for the second straight week — but it will take a more difficult opponent than VMI to overcome them.
Some early thoughts:
Mike Callahan seems like the real deal
The senior quarterback was nearly perfect Saturday night, pacing the Tribe offense efficiently and accurately. He made no significant mistakes, and did an excellent job in taking what the defense gave him. This was my first time seeing him play (in-person) live in a regular season game, and what impressed me particularly was his ability to move in the pocket. Callahan is adept at making the little adjusts to avoid the rush and not only prevent himself from getting tackled, but put himself in prime position to get the ball to his receivers. He has clearly learned from his predecessors over the past four years, and looked very polished and poised under center. That’s an excellent factor for the Tribe, as Head Coach Jimmye Laycock has found a well-fitting quarterback to run his offense. After two weeks, there is absolutely no quarterback competition in Williamsburg any longer.
The defensive line still needs work
VMI managed 113 yards on the ground against the Tribe, and a good chunk of those came in the first half, before garbage time. Tailback Gabe Itoka was impressive, a speedy, shifty 5’6” dynamo, but most concerning was the ability of the Keydet offensive line to open up holes in the middle against the Tribe defensive front four. The line gave up nothing in the middle a year ago, playing against the top (and top rushing) teams in the FCS. If an undersized line such as VMI’s can manage to create space, that’s a major warning sign for Defensive Coordinator Bob Shoop.
Not that I think he doesn’t know that. But fixing it will be a bigger issue. Interior lineman Mike Stover and Harold Robertson have been mediocre, while ends Marcus Hyde and Ravi Pradhanang have, by and large, failed to live up to expectations. If the unit can’t improve by the Oct. 2 rematch with Villanova, things could get ugly.
Ryan Moody has major talent
A year after missing most of the season with an ankle injury, as well as injuries sustained in a serious car crash, Moody appears to be fully back for the College. He caught four balls for 110 yards Saturday night, using his deceptively athletic 5’11” frame to muscle up against the Keydet secondary. That production is something the Tribe could use when it comes into CAA play, and if Moody can continue his play from the first two weeks, he will have a major impact on a receiving corps that could use a big-time wideout.
Check back with Flathatnews.com tomorrow for a full analysis.