December 5, 2009

Sidebar: William & Mary's Offense, A Good Defense

By Ryan Voyles
Special to
The William and Mary Tribe showed why "defense wins championships" on Saturday.

William & Mary’s rush defense lived up to its billing, as the Tribe took down the Southern Illinois University Salukis 24-3 in the quarterfinals of the Division I Football Championship Subdivision playoffs at McAndrew Stadium.

The Tribe (11-2) entered the game with the No. 1 rushing defense in the nation, holding opponents to only 50.3 rushing yards a game – while the Salukis came in with the fourth-rated rushing attack, which averaged 230.8 yards per game.
Only William and Mary lived up to the billing though, as Southern Illinois could only muster 84 rushing yards the entire game.

William and Mary head coach Jimmye Laycock said it was a matter of his team playing its usual style.

“We just played good defense,” Laycock said. “That’s what we do. You play defense which means you get off blocks, you run the football, and you wrap up and tackle. We do those things very, very well. You’d be surprised what effort does to you on defense. We have guys coming at you at all times.”

SIU running back Deji Karim, who is one of three finalists for the Walter Payton Award, was held to only 27 rushing yards, and 105 all-purpose yards. He said the lack of a run game was a matter of Southern Illinois getting beat by a better squad.

“They were just tougher than us,” Karim said. “They were tougher, more physical than us – especially in the first half. We didn’t help ourselves with the penalties and stupid mistakes.”

Southern Illinois (11-2) put the vaunted William and Mary to the test in the first quarter though.

SIU quarterback Paul McIntosh took the first play of the game up the middle 34 yards to the William and Mary 36-yard line. The Tribe’s defense stiffened though, and allowed only a 46-yard field goal to the Salukis on the possession.

SIU would drive on the next possession, but a holding penalty negated McIntosh’s run to the Tribe’s 8-yard line, and SIU kicker Kyle Daugherty’s 39-yard field goal bounced gently into the end zone.

It would be the last time William and Mary would allow Southern into the red zone.

 “It was just about adjusting to a team we hadn’t seen before,” William and Mary defensive end Adrian Tracy said. “You can’t really judge speed on film. I’ll give it to (McIntosh); he had a few more steps than I thought he did. We were able to regroup.”

After a first quarter that saw the Tribe manage only two offensive yards on nine plays, quarterback R.J. Archer and running back Jonathan Grimes went to work.

After failing to complete any of his four passes in the first quarter, Archer completed all eight attempts in the second quarter for 119 yards. Grimes tacked on the first of his three touchdowns on the day with a six-yard run.

The Tribe would never look back.

William and Mary outgained Southern Illinois 371-85 in the final three quarters, while holding on to the ball for over 32 minutes – compared to SIU’s 12 minutes of possession.

“I felt like we just had to get into a rhythm, our O-line, they were fired up all game, and I just felt like it was a matter of time until we started moving the chains,” Grimes said.

Not even the return of SIU quarterback Chris Dieker, who has been out since breaking his collarbone Oct. 24, could provide an offensive spark.

Dieker took over for McIntosh on the final SIU drive of the first half, then again in the fourth quarter. Lennon said he put Dieker in the game at first because of his experience running a two-minute drill, but he put him back in during the fourth quarter due to an injury to McIntosh.

“He’s our thrower, and we felt that was the chance to get him in there,” Lennon said. “At the end, it just seemed his time anyway, even without McIntosh getting injured.”

William and Mary will play the Villanova-UNH winner in the semifinals of the FCS playoffs. Villanova won the last meeting between the teams 28-17 on Oct. 3. Laycock said he would not worry about the next game yet.

“I’ll worry about that one tomorrow,” Laycock said. “We’re just focusing on this one today; we’ll get to who we’re playing later.”