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Glancing At William & Mary

William & Mary finished the 2007 season at 4-7 (2-6), but with 18 starters back, they're feeling optimistic in Williamsburg. Coach Jimmye Laycock's team moved the ball well last season (mostly through the air) but, uh, ran into trouble on the defensive side, where their youth killed them.

 Yds/Gm Rk
Rush Offense 118.1 95
Pass Offense 278.1 12
Pass Efficiency n/a 25
Total Offense 396.2 40
Rush Defense 225.7 108
Pass Defense 167.5 12
Pass Eff. Defense n/a 96
Total Defense 393.2 83

The pass defense looks pretty, but the pass efficiency/rush defense numbers tell the story: it's not that foes couldn't throw the ball against the Tribe, it's that they never really saw the need.

 W&M Opponents
RushAtt/Gm 46.7
Yds/RushAtt 4.8
PassAtt/Gm 23.6
Yds/PassAtt 7.1
Comp% 64.6

W&M Offense

Quarterback Jake Phillips was undermined at every turn by his offensive line, yet still managed a fine season, throwing for 2801 yards (8.3 per attempt), 19 TDs and 7 INTs.

Laycock took what appears to be a "shit, this guys sucks, what about the next guy?" approach to the running game, and while some sucked less than others, the general theme and tone established in the team's season-opening 3.3 YPC effort against Delaware persisted.

The most effective and heavily-used of the RB bunch was freshman Courtland Marriner (anagram: Admiral Corner Turn). The Admiral is out of Saturday's game with an injury, though, and so is his backup. Which leaves the Tribe without two of the three guys who managed better than four yards per carry in '07; the replacements on the two-deep have a combined 19 career carries.

The receiver to watch is Elliot Mack (6-0, 195), who averaged 18.5 yards per catch last season (849 yards on just 46 receptions). The man behind Mack on the two-deep is a converted quarterback (also: the backup QB is a converted receiver), while the other starting receiver suffered a season-ending injury in the first game of last season. So it's hard to know what to expect from this group, aside from Mack.

W&M Defense

Bunch of guys back; you know the drill:

"I’ll be the first to tell you how great the defense looked during spring ball," praised fourth-year starting quarterback Jake Phillips at Monday’s Media Day. "They really made it tough on us in scrimmages. Instead of a sit back and bend but don’t break philosophy, Coach (Bob) Shoop has them being a lot more aggressive and bringing pressure all over."

In his second year as defensive coordinator, Shoop is tabbing his unit the "Green Swarm."

"I want 11 men working as one and flying to the football," explained Shoop. "We need to play with greater effort, run to the ball better and tackle. The players are understanding our higher expectations and what we want to do, but we have to demand more."

Phillips became the 500,000th college quarterback to say words to that effect about his defense in the preseason.

But there is reason to expect improvement, returning experience aside: their scoring defense (ranked 111th) didn't square with their yardage numbers (89th), in part because of some horrific fumble luck. The Tribe offense lost 12 of 18 fumbles, while the defense recovered six of 16. That's a mere 35.3% recovery rate, which you'd think would climb closer to a more typical figure this season.

Distinguished Alums

Assorted presidents and founding fathers, and Jon Stewart. Which gives me an excuse to post a Daily Show clip.

Childrens do learn. The defensive coordinator's bankin' on it.