The seeds for William & Mary’s 27-20 comeback victory last Saturday against Maine actually were sown in their early season losses.
In a three-game losing streak after winning the season opener, the Tribe’s youth and inexperience often showed. However, in winning two of their past three, that wasn’t the case.
“They just kept hanging in there and kept playing,” W&M coach Jimmye Laycock said of the homecoming win over the Black Bears. “They didn’t let one bad play or mistake lead to others. They were able to regroup. And when it came down to the end, they came up with the plays.”
Laycock, who is retiring at the end of the season after 39 years at W&M, said his team’s youth showed in those early losses, and often one mistake would lead to others. The young players were unable to put the bad play behind them and concentrate on the next.
“I saw that (early on),” he said. “You don’t like it to happen, but it’s kind of a sign of being young. A lot of these guys hadn’t been playing that many snaps. They’ve learned, and that’s what you want. You get into the season and you’re learning how you react in game situations. You can’t simulate that in practice.”
The Tribe (3-4, 2-2 CAA) needs to continue that growth this week at Rhode Island (4-3, 2-2), which fell out of the STATSFCS Poll after losing to Stony Brook.
Quarterback JaJuan Lawson is averaging 247.8 passing yards a game, wide receiver Aaron Parker is averaging 80.4 yards a game, and Lorenzo Bryant Jr. (56.5 yards a game) leads the running game. The Rams are averaging 33.7 points a game.
The Tribe will be without wide receiver DeVonte Dedmon, running back Albert Funderburke Jr. and backup quarterback Dean Rotger. Laycock said at Tuesday’s weekly media day he hadn’t decided if Shon Mitchell or Ted Hefter would start at QB.
W&M will look to receiver Jalen Christian to make an impact again. Saturday, the first touchdown catch of his career gave the Tribe the lead for good in the fourth quarter.
“We’re trying to get Jalen involved more,” Laycock said. “We’ve got to keep working with him. His presence will continue to be known out there. They have a lot of confidence in him.”
Christian was hampered by injuries his first two seasons, but has played all seven games this season.