The University at Albany is one of only three teams on William & Mary’s football schedule that isn’t ranked.
However, the Great Danes, who play the Tribe in Williamsburg on Saturday, do pose two specific challenges for William & Mary.
The teams have never played each other, and the Great Danes are coming off a bye week.
“It presents an issue,” W&M coach Jimmye Laycock said of facing a first-time opponent. “We don’t know anything about them. But they are a CAA team and that carries with it significant weight in our mind. If you are in the CAA, you can play.”
The Great Danes (2-2, 0-1), who joined the conference in 2013, lost their first two games this season before winning their next two.
They were off last week, which gave them time to nurse any injuries and work on their game plans.
“Not knowing what they are actually like, we are preparing for a lot of different things.” Laycock said. “We are not really sure. They’ve had a week off so you could get anything new, too. That’s always a concern taking on a team that has had a week off. They may be adding things that you haven’t seen on film. And we have no reference to go back on them, either.”
Mark Williamson, an offensive tackle from Greene County, said they have been watching as much footage as they can.
“We went over their defense yesterday,” he said at Tuesday’s weekly media day. “They’re strong defensively. They have a lot of upperclassmen. They run a 4-3 defense, run a lot of edge pressure.”
The Great Danes as a team might not be familiar to Laycock and the Tribe, but they have at least one familiar name. Vincent Testaverde, a 6-foot-2 205-pound senior, is the starting quarterback. His father is 1986 Heisman Trophy winner Vinny Testaverde.
“He looks to be a pro-type of quarterback,” Laycock said. “His mannerisms. The way he sets up. The way he delivers the ball. He looks to be very polished. He looks to be an NFL-type of quarterback. Now whether he’s good enough to play in the NFL, I don’t know.”
Testaverde is completing 56.8 percent of his passes and has eight touchdown passes and eight interceptions. He’s averaging 283 yards per game. The Great Danes’ leading receiver is freshman Dev Holmes (146.8 yards a game, 21 yards a catch and 4 TDs).
“Offensively, with the quarterback and the skill players they have out wide, they’ve got some explosive players,” Laycock said. “They’ve put up a number of points the last few weeks (a total of 65).”
The Tribe (1-3, 0-1) have been shut out two consecutive games, but had drives of 70, 67 and 76 yards in their 23-0 loss to Colgate last week. Their efforts were undone by turnovers and other mistakes.
“We’re starting to click in the right direction,” Williamson said. “As you saw last game, we’re starting to all get on the same page. … Everything’s starting to come together as a unit.”
Quarterback Shon Mitchell was 27 for 39 for 251 yards last week. DeVonte Dedmon (10 catches, 104 yards) had his second 100-yard game. Jack Armstrong added four receptions for 89 yards.
“I thought our pass protection was the best it’s been this year,” Laycock said. “I thought Shon had some time back there. We converted some throws.”
The Tribe, who were 0-8 in the conference last season, have lost nine consecutive CAA games.