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William and Mary has lofty expectations
High-expectation queries don’t draw much reaction from longtime William and Mary football coach Jimmye Laycock, and they probably won’t this fall, either.
The Tribe, with several marquee players returning from an 8-4 FCS playoff team, likely will be the preseason favorite in the Colonial Athletic Association and quite possibly will have a lofty ranking in the polls.
To which Laycock gives a wary answer:
“I just want us to be as good as we can,” he said.
“They had high expectations [for us] last year, and we didn’t have a quarterback and we lost two people to the NFL.
“We’re solid. I think our guys have good work habits, and they want to do well and they want to improve. We’ll just have to see how things shake out.”
William and Mary has 13 starters returning and several all-conference anchors: running back and player-of-the-year candidate Jonathan Grimes, cornerback B.W. Webb, tight end Alex Gottlieb, defensive end Marcus Hyde and linebacker Dante Cook.
New defensive coordinator Scott Boone also gets a major bonus with the return of middle linebacker Jake Trantin, a second-team all-conference pick in 2009 who missed last year because of family issues. That enables Cook, last year’s leading tackler, to move back to his natural spot on the outside.
But there are a few areas of concern as William and Mary wraps up spring practice Saturday with a scrimmage at 1:30 p.m. at Zable Stadium:
•The presumptive starting quarterback, senior Michael Paulus, underwent shoulder surgery in December and is being held out of spring drills.
Paulus, a transfer who was 88 of 142 for 883 yards and four touchdowns as a backup last season, should be ready for the fall, but Laycock was hoping to get him more repetitions during the spring.
Sophomore Brent Caprio, senior D.J. Mangas and redshirt freshman Raphael Ortiz have been getting most of the work and will go full contact during the scrimmage. “That will obviously be a big part of preseason, seeing how that shakes out,” Laycock said.
•Experienced wide receivers are in short supply. Second-team all-CAA pick Ryan Moody (47 catches, 731 yards) sustained an anterior cruciate ligament injury. Laycock said Moody probably will undergo surgery and be lost for the season. “That’s a real blow for us,” Laycock said.
With the quarterback and wide receiver spots unsettled, Laycock has put more emphasis on the running game and the offensive line during the spring.
“The offensive line has been one of the bright spots,” Laycock said. “We were not as good as we felt like we needed to be running the football [last season].”
Laycock prefers to simplify spring practice and work on a few things. The Tribe has spent time on third-down and red-zone situations, as well as letting Boone, the former head coach at Randolph-Macon, settle in.
“I don’t think people would notice any major scheme change [defensively] at all, but there will be some things we’ll probably tweak,” Laycock said. “I think they’ve done a pretty solid job. We’ve kept it fairly simple.”
By Tim Pearrell Richmond Times-Dispatch