Jimmye Laycock, Tribe Opens With Herd Thursday

The first Atlantic 10 Conference call for coaches drew media members from Huntington and Charleston this morning to talk with the head coach at The College of William and Mary, Jimmye Laycock, about this Thursday's opener in Huntington with the Herd. The Tribe, ranked number nine in I-AA, will be taking on a I-A team for the eighth straight year and opening the season at a I-A school for the fourth consecutive year. Laycock saw his team go 11-3 last year as A-10 champs and I-AA semi-finalists.

Regarding playing Marshall, who Laycock is 2-0 all-time against (winning in 1981 in Williamsburg and 1983 in Huntington), Laycock was not sure what to expect. "Without having played them, we don't know what to expect scheme-wise," said the 26-year head coach of W&M, "but Marshall is very athletic. They have a history of winning. Great players have come out of that program and they probably have as many great players in the program now."

It's also tough to gauge what the Herd will do under a new head coach in first-year leader of the Herd, Mark Snyder who, like Laycock, is coaching his alma mater. "There's nothing to bank on as it's the first ball game. We will try to take care of ourselves, make adjustments as game unfolds. You can't put all your eggs in one basket, so to speak, (as far as one game plan)." Laycock had a great game against an I-A team in the 2004 opener, leading North Carolina at half and into the fourth quarter before falling. "We have had close and had some not so close," said Laycock of I-A games. "You never know in this situation if your players are ready to play or wide-eyed and scared. When you play I-A teams, it will show your flaws quickly and magnifies them."

Another coach on the A-10 call is familiar with both W&M and MU. James Madison head coach Mickey Matthews was Marshall's defensive coordinator from 1990-95 and won the National Championship with the Dukes last season, beating The Tribe in the semi-finals after losing to W&M in the regular season. "I think they will be good," said Matthews of William and Mary. "They throw the ball, move the ball well, but I have no idea about their new quarterback." Laycock named sophomore Mike Potts as the starter on Sunday, replacing I-AA Player of the Year Lang Campbell, who won the Walter Payton award and was a consensus I-AA All-American. "Their defensive end (All-American candidate Adam O'Connor, who is 6-8, 275) is a very good player, but they struggled defensively last year. They run an eight-man front and will get after MU. Jimmye Laycock's teams always play hard." Laycock is also high on his big defensive end. "His size alone makes him recognizable as a player," said Laycock, "But his intensity is why he plays very hard. He plays extremely hard on every snap." O'Connor will line up on either side of the defensive line, according to Laycock.

Matthews also felt Laycock would have like to go to MU with his 2004 team, if he could. "I'm sure Jimmye wishes he was taking Lang Campbell and the 2004 team to Huntington. That is a tough place to take a new starting quarterback into for his first game. They have alot of guys returning, but probably not the best athletes in world on defense. Marshall may be able to exploit them."

Laycock is hoping his young QB can do a good job, but may play him and red-shirt freshman Jake Phillips. "First, I think both will be good quarterbacks," said Laycock, "but Jake has no game experience and Mike has a little. We have got to get ready to play football and Mike had the edge in experience. We will evaluate as we go along; play it and hope they play well, make good decisions. Mike understands the offense. He is a big, strong quarterback." Potts is 6-4, 224 pounds and threw for 7-of-17 last season for 84 yards and one score. "He can make all the throws you want out of your quarterback...short, long, deep. He has great vision, due to his height, to see the field and now, how will he stand-up in a game?"

NOTES: Laycock likes the Thursday night start, except for missing classes Wednesday afternoon and Thursday...William and Mary has some historic footnotes in the MU history book. The 0-0 tie at Cary Field, the former home of Tribe football, in 1928 was the first-ever Marshall game under the lights and inspired Herd to add lights to Fairfield Stadium for 1929. In the 1981 game in Williamsburg, Va., Sonny Randle's Herd wore the gold game pants for the first time in a 35-7 loss. The 1983 loss, 48-24 at Fairfield Stadium, was Randle's next-to-last home game as MU head coach...One of Randle's assistant coaches, Waverly Brooks, now owns a restaurant's named "Backfins" in Williamsburg, a favorite eatery of Coach Laycock. Brooks is a long-time W&M supporter...senior linebacker Thad Wheeler is the son of former Herd starting center Paul Wheeler, who lettered for the Herd in 1976-77-78 out of Beckley Woodrow Wilson High School...running back Elijah Brooks was with Kent State in 2003 in a 49-33 Golden Flashes loss at Joan C. Edwards Stadium, catching two passes and having four carries. "It's like playing at Delaware, times two or three," said Brooks of playing at MU compared to the toughest venue in the Atlantic 10.

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