#7 William & Mary FCS Football 2016 Preview

William & Mary Tribe
Overall Rank: #7
#2 CAA
William & Mary have high expectations, so last season ended with disappointment. But the year started pretty well. The Tribe nearly beat Virginia early in the year. There was another loss at Delaware in early October, but after that William & Mary beat Villanova, New Hampshire, James Madison and Towson. The Tribe finished the season with a 20-9 loss at Richmond. That was more than enough to make the playoffs. Yet, after slipping past Duquesne in the first round of the playoffs, William & Mary had to face off against Richmond on the road again. This time it was not even as close for the Tribe and the Spiders blew them out 48-13.
2015 Record: 9-4, 6-2
2015 Postseason: FCS Playoffs
Coach: Jimmye Laycock (240-174-2 at William & Mary, 240-174-2 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Kevin Rogers
Defensive Coordinator: Trevor Andrews
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Kendell Anderson, RB, 1,418 yards
Passing: Steve Cluley, QB, 2,768 yards
Receiving: DeVonte Dedmon, WR, 588 yards
Tackles: Trey Reed, DB, 59
Sacks: Peyton Gryder, DE, 5.0
Interceptions: Trey Reed, DB, 3
Other Key Returnees: WR Daniel Kuzjak, TE Andrew Caskin, OL Chris Durant, OL Connor Hilland, OL Jerry Ugokwe, LB Stephen Lubnow, K Nick Dorka, P Hunter Windmuller
Key Losses: RB Mikal Abdul-Saboor, WR Christian Reeves, OL Andrew Jones, S DeAndre Houston-Carson, LB Luke Rhodes, LB Zack Fetters, S Jared Velasquez, DL Tyler Claytor
William & Mary will again have one of the most potent offenses in the CAA. The Tribe found a surprise gem of a running back in Kendell Anderson. He rushed for 1,418 yards and 16 touchdowns and should be in for a big senior season. Quarterback Steve Cluley is an experienced senior too. He threw for 2,768 yards and 16 touchdowns in 2015 and will again have wide receivers DeVonte Dedmon and Daniel Kuzjak to work with. Dedmon caught 51 passes for 588 yards eight touchdowns while Kuzjak added 32 receptions for 479 yards. With tight end Andrew Caskin also returning, the passing game should be more dangerous than they were last season. Still, the Tribe will want to grind out games on the ground as much as possible, but now they should be able to mount better comeback attempts with the passing game.
The defense must replace their top two tacklers in DeAndre Houston-Carson and Luke Rhodes from a unit that was ranked seventh in the conference scoring defense. Getting to the quarterback is the first area the Tribe will need to work on heading into 2016. With three returning starters, including Peyton Gryder who led the team with 5.0 sacks and 10.0 tackles-for-loss, there is hope for improvement. There are bigger concerns at linebacker. Seniors Marcus Harvey and Stephen Lubnow have some starting experience, but replacing Rhodes at the middle linebacker spot is the bigger concern. Senior Matt Vlissides figures to fill that role, but Rhodes has some big shoes to fill. Trey Reed, who recorded 59 tackles and picked off three passes, will lead a rebuilding secondary.
The Bottom Line:
Following a non-conference slate that includes games against North Carolina State, Hampton and Norfolk State, the Tribe open up CAA play at home against Elon. After that, William & Mary will be really tested against New Hampshire and James Madison. But the biggest game will come in the season finale against Richmond. Not only could that game decide who wins the conference title, but it will also be an opportunity for Coach Jimmye Laycock and company to get a little revenge.
Projected Postseason: FCS Playoffs
2015 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 195.2 (27th in nation, 3rd in conference)
Passing Offense: 216.2 (52, 3)
Total Offense: 411.5 (41, 3)
Scoring Offense: 30.9 (29, 3)
Rushing Defense: 153.7 (48, 6)
Pass Defense: 202.6 (45, 6)
Total Defense: 356.3 (40, 6)
Scoring Defense: 22.7 (41, 7)
Turnover Margin: 0.54 (24, 2)
Sacks: 1.69 (88, 9)
Sacks Allowed: 1.08 (18, 1)
Madness 2016 Recruit Rankings:
#28 Arman Jones