#5/4 Villanova (5-1, 3-0) will visit William & Mary (4-2, 1-1) this Saturday afternoon at Zable Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 3:30pm ET, and will occur smack in the middle of Homecoming Weekend in Williamsburg. Expect a big crowd and a rowdy atmosphere.
Last year, John Robertson ran for 70 yards and a touchdown, while Austin Medley added another rushing score in a 20-16 'Nova victory. Kevin Monangai led all rushers with 93 yards on 14 carries.
Here's three things to know about the Tribe:
Offense isn't their strong suit
Quarterback Steve Cluley is having a mixed season in his first year as the starter. Completing just 52.8% of your passes with 3 TDs and 3 INTs is okay, but when you don't present much of a threat as a runner the defense can really start to tee off on you.
It's a shame that Cluley can't find more consistency because he has one of the best WRs in the conference at his disposal. Tre McBride is coming off back-to-back 800-yard receiving seasons but has found the end zone just once so far in 2014. He's also quite dangerous on kick/punt returns.
Mikal Abdul-Saboor is having the best year of his career with a 5.0 ypc average and is just one touchdown away from tying last season's total on the ground. Villanova has been solid against the run so far, but they'll be focused on keeping Abdul-Saboor under wraps, especially after he found some success against them last season.
They're loaded on defense
For all their shortcomings on offense, the defense is stacked with talent. Four players were named to the preseason All-CAA team, including Defensive Player of the Year Mike Reilly, who anchors the defensive line. He's joined by linebackers Airek Green and Luke Rhodes, plus cornerback DeAndre Houston-Carson.
Oddly enough, the Tribe have somewhat struggled in terms of yardage allowed. Take out the opening game against Virginia Tech and opponents are averaging 137 yards per game rushing the ball, and 238 per game passing. During that same time frame they've given up just 20 ppg. Clearly a bend but don't break model, but against an elite offense like Villanova they might find it harder to keep points off the board.
Jimmye Laycock and Andy Talley are very familiar with one another
Laycock has been the head coach at William & Mary since 1980 - Talley at 'Nova since 1985. Together they've seen the programs migrate from Independent status to the Yankee Conference to the Atlantic-10 to the CAA. And they've played a lot of games along the way.
Perhaps that is why when these two teams meet you can usually throw records and stats out the window and expect a well-played and close game. Expect no different this Saturday. The Tribe are now playing for their Playoff chances while Villanova must keep pace with New Hampshire if they want to bring another CAA championship to the Main Line.