William & Mary (0-0) at Maryland (0-0)
College Park, MD
Saturday Sept. 2, 6:00 pm
William & Mary
Head Coach: Jimmye Laycock (175-119-2 in 26 years)
Conference: Atlantic 10
2005 Record: 5-6
Series History: William & Mary leads Maryland 2-1
Last Meeting: W&M 41, Maryland 7, 1946 at William & Mary
William & Mary Offense:
The Tribe returns most of its offensive skill position players, led by all-Atlantic 10 Conference RB Elijah Brooks, who rushed for 944 yards and 9 TDs on 207 carries last season. Brooks may have some extra motivation against the Terps, as he attended nearby DeMatha and hails from Largo, MD. The 5-9, 215-pound senior originally attended D-1 Kent State out of high school but later transferred to I-AA William & Mary.
Sophomore Jake Phillips returns as Williams & Mary's starting quarterback after starting the final five games in 2005 and playing in 10. He passed for 1,564 yards, 12 TDs and seven INTs to go along with eight rushing TDs.
His receiving corps may be relatively young but they are much more experienced than their Terps counterparts. They’re led by 6-foot-3 junior Joe Nicholas, who caught 52 balls for 731 yards and 5 scores last season.
The Tribe's offensive line is a mixture of veterans and inexperience, highlighted by senior All-American candidate Cody Morris. Morris had been a three-year starter at guard but moved to center this off-season. The guard position will be one of inexperience as none of the candidates have much game playing time under their belts. Starting tackles Brent Cochran and Brad Stewart, both juniors, combined for 20 starts last season.
William & Mary Defense:
The Tribe's starting defensive line is a blend of senior starters (DT Brian Williamson and DE Josh Wright) and redshirt freshmen who will see their first game action (DT Cortenous Herbert and DE Adrian Tracy). Depth on the defensive line is a concern, though, as only one projected backup has any game experience.
At linebacker, sophomore starting MLB Josh Rutter is the star. He led the team in tackles last year with 109. On the outside, Rutter is flanked by two green 'backers, but each has a former starter returning from injury behind him on the depth chart.
The Tribe has injury concerns in its secondary and has had to move players around to fill the holes. Starting safety Zach Stout is out for the season after suffering an ACL injury in camp and sophomore safety Kevin Allen is questionable for Saturday's game with a hamstring injury. As a result, The Tribe has moved three-year starter CB Alan Wheeling to the free safety position and lists two redshirt freshmen, Sheldon Alexander and Fred Johnson, at strong safety.
William & Mary Special Teams:
Senior Blair Pritchard will handle both punting and kicking duties. Though a senior, Pritchard has never kicked before after sitting behind All-American Greg Keuhn the past three seasons. Brooks will return kicks and Wheeling will make his debut as the team's main punt returner.
Brooks is a star who will get tough yards against the Maryland defense, and William & Mary's experienced passing attack should be a good test for the Terps’ secondary. On the other side of the ball, Maryland should be able to run the ball effectively against an inexperienced and thin defensive line.
Maryland's passing game will produce some big plays against a question-riddled secondary. The Terps have their own concerns about experience at the WR position but have a decided advantage in the speed department. This is a good opportunity for the young Terps WR corps to get its feet wet against live competition and for senior Sam Hollenbach to start his senior campaign with a confidence builder.
Prediction: Maryland 48, William & Mary 17
-- Compiled by Mike Hogan