2007 Football Game Preview: Virginia Tech vs. William & Mary

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Saturday, September 22nd, 2007, 1:30

TV: ACC Select, Internet Only

Forecast (from WeatherUnderground.com):
Click the “Blacksburg Weather” link to the right.
Game time forecast, as of 2:30 pm Wednesday: Sunny, with a 10 percent
chance of rain. Temperature 81.


Click here for TechSideline.com’s VT/W&M roster card


Game Preview: #17 Virginia Tech (2-1) vs. William & Mary (2-1)


by Chris Coleman, TechSideline.com

The William & Mary Offense

Although William & Mary is a 1-AA program, respect their offense. These
guys put up a lot of yards and a lot of points, and no team they have played has
been able to stop them thus far. Take a look at their impressive stats on
offense three games into the season.


William & Mary Offensive Stats

Category

Stat

National Rank

Rushing

176.33 ypg

49

Passing

353.67 ypg

1

Total

530 ypg

2

Scoring

47.33 ppg

1

Pass Efficiency

194.12

3

National Rank is in the 1-AA Division,
among 116 teams.

When W&M loses, it’s generally not because of their offense.
530 yards per game is about as good as you’ll see, on any level.

Their offense revolves around quarterback Jake Phillips (6-3, 220, r-Jr.).
Phillips is an excellent quarterback from Bath County High School. He has
already thrown for 1,010 yards this season in just three games. He has completed
70.2% of his passes, and thrown eight touchdowns with no interceptions.

Phillips is also not a statue in the pocket. He has some mobility. As a
senior in high school, he rushed for 1,436 yards and 26 touchdowns. He drew some
looks from Virginia Tech as a safety prospect.

Phillips has had a lot of success this season, despite the fact that top
receiver Joe Nicholas (6-3, 225, r-Sr.) missed the first two games with an
injury. Nicholas is back now, and he gives William & Mary a big target in
the passing game.

The Tribe likes to spread the ball around, and all of their receivers are big
play threats.


William & Mary Top Receivers

Name

Catches

Yards

YPC

TD

Drew Atchison

13

244

18.8

3

Elliot Mack

13

197

15.2

2

R.J. Archer

10

160

16.0

0

D.J. McAulay

7

162

23.1

1

Cameron Dohse

6

144

24.0

2

DeBrian Holmes

4

40

10.0

0

Rob Varno

3

73

24.3

0

Those yards per catch numbers are very impressive. The top receiver on that
list, Drew Atchison, is a 6-7, 250 tight end. His 18.8 yards per catch is very
good, especially considering his size and position.

William & Mary has plenty of guys to throw the ball to, but they have
some bad news in the backfield. Their top two rushers, DeBrian Holmes and
Courtland Marriner, will be out with injuries. That will hurt the Tribe’s
quickness, as Holmes and Marriner are smaller, faster backs than most.

The starting tailback for William & Mary against the Hokies will be
senior Tony Viola (6-1, 216). He is the big back for the Tribe. He has 27
carries for 113 yards and a touchdown on the season. Backing him up will be
r-freshman Thomas Schonder (5-11, 175). Schonder is a smaller back, more in the
mold of Holmes and Marriner.

The William & Mary Defense

William & Mary struggles on the defensive side of the ball because they
are small and inexperienced. Their defense isn’t nearly as good as their
offense. They do fine against the pass, but haven’t been able to stop the run.


William & Mary Defensive Stats

Category

Stat

National Rank

Rushing

237.33 ypg

107

Passing

142.33 ypg

17

Total

379.67 ypg

79

Scoring

35.33 ppg

100

Pass Efficiency

136.56

84

National Rank is in the 1-AA Division,
among 116 teams.

Ouch. Particularly against the run.

William & Mary starts three sophomores on the defensive line. All four
starting defensive linemen are backed up by freshman, one of which is a true
freshman. That’s seven freshmen and sophomores in William & Mary’s two deep
on the defensive line. That inexperience, along with their size, causes them to
be weak against the run. Here is a look at their two deep up front, with the
starters in bold.


William & Mary Two-Deep Defensive Line

Name

Position

Height

Weight

Year

Adrian Tracy

DE

6-4

245

r-So.

Brian Jean-Pierre

DE

6-3

245

r-Fr.

Sean Lissemore

DT

6-4

271

r-So.

Carl Watts

DT

6-3

255

r-Fr.

Ryan Jones

DT

6-3

258

r-Sr.

Derek Toon

DT

6-3

275

r-Fr.

C.J. Herbert

DE

6-3

262

r-So.

Michael Stover

DE

6-3

255

Fr.

Only two defensive linemen out of eight weigh in at over 270, and only one of
those is a starter. This is by far the smallest defensive front Virginia Tech
will face this season, and big, physical guys like Ryan Shuman, Sergio Render
and Nick Marshman should thrive. One more note: starting defensive tackle Ryan
Jones, the only senior on the line, played for Blacksburg High School.

Perhaps the best defender for William & Mary is strong safety David
Caldwell (5-11, 205, So.). He is second on the team in tackles with 28, and he
leads the team with 2.5 tackles for loss. He also has an interception, a pass
breakup and a forced fumble. He has to help out the front seven quite a bit
against the run.

William & Mary has more experience at linebacker, starting two juniors
and a senior. Middle linebacker Josh Rutter leads the team in tackles with 34.
However, there isn’t much depth at this position, as they feature two freshmen
backups. Division 1-AA teams only get 63 scholarships, so it’s not unusual to
see a lot of freshmen in the two deep.

The Tribe also has inexperience in the secondary. Besides Caldwell at strong
safety, true sophomore Max Harris (5-10, 189) starts at cornerback, along with
r-sophomore Robert Livingston (6-3, 220) at free safety. There are also two
r-freshmen and one true freshman in the two deep. That means six out of the
eight players listed in the two deep in William & Mary’s secondary are
freshmen or sophomores.

The Tribe hasn’t given up a lot of passing yards this year, only 142.33 yards
per game, but opposing quarterbacks have been efficient, completing 72.3% of
their passes.

Tech’s offense has a major size, experience and talent advantage over William
& Mary’s defense. Expect to see the Hokies put up a lot of yards and points.

Special Teams

1-A teams have a major special teams edge over 1-AA teams in special teams
not only because of the talent difference, but because of depth. 1-A teams offer
22 more scholarships than 1-AA teams. Tech has an opportunity to make a lot of
big plays on special teams on Saturday.

William & Mary’s punt return team has been very bad thus far. Derek Cox
has two returns for a total of -2 yards. Punter David Miller has been solid so
far, averaging 38.2 yards per punt. However, because the Tribe’s offense has
been so dominant, Miller has punted just five times in three games.

The Hokies have a chance to get some big yardage on kickoff returns this week
as well. Brian Pate has kicked off 18 times this year, and none have resulted in
touchbacks. As a team, William & Mary has no touchbacks in 22 kickoffs.

The Tribe’s kicker is Brian Pate, and he is 3-of-4 on the season, with a long
of 43 yards.

Conclusion

William & Mary is a very good offensive team with a poor defense. They
are a system offense. Pretty much anyone that gets plugged in performs well.
However, their defense can’t really stop anybody. They sort of strike me as the
1-AA version of Texas Tech.

Tech’s offense will dominate this game and put it away by halftime. A lot of
backups will see time in this one. As a result, William & Mary’s top notch
1-AA offense might notch a couple of scores of Tech’s backup defenders in the
second half. I don’t think the Hokies will pitch a shutout this time like they
do against most 1-AA teams, but it will be a blowout nonetheless.

Prediction: Virginia Tech 52, William & Mary 10

Will Stewart’s Take: Even though I wrote a blog entry yesterday asking the
media to stop comparing Tyrod
Taylor to Michael Vick
, I’ve got to say that this game reminds me of
Michael’s first-ever game in a Hokie uniform, against
1-AA James Madison
back in 1999.

It’s a very similar situation, though not exact. It’s not Tyrod Taylor’s
first game, and it’s not a season opener, but it is a young QB with some serious
skills going up against a 1-AA team that won’t be able to do much with him.
Michael’s 54-yard TD run against JMU set the tone for his career, giving
everyone a glimpse of what he could do. I wonder if we’ll see some signature
plays from Tyrod Saturday.

The Hokies should do well offensively Saturday, but I’m more intrigued by how
well the defense will do. JMU hung 210 yards on the Hokies’ great 1999 defense,
including a 78-yard run that nearly netted them a touchdown. William & Mary
is a completely different offensive team than the Dukes of eight years ago, and
I wonder what numbers the W&M passing game will put up against Tech. The
Hokies have a defensive reputation to rebuild, so I think they’ll take this game
seriously.

Chris stole my 52 point prediction for the Hokies, so I’ll just go with a
seven-touchdown game, without the field goal.

Will’s Prediction: Virginia Tech 49, William & Mary 7

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