Green vs. Gold: The Spring Game Recap
After a disappointing campaign last season, many Tribe fans hoped that this year the team would break out of their offensive doldrums. Those who came out to Zable Stadium on Saturday were sorely disappointed. Although the contest ended in a “13 – 13 tie”, fans at the game were treated to very little offense as both touchdowns scored occurred on “drives” where the ball was placed at the eight yard line. Other than those two touchdowns, Tribe quarterbacks managed to combine for six interceptions over the course of the shortened game. Whether it was Brent Caprio and Michael Graham, who platooned time at quarterback last year, or Raphael Ortiz and Christian Brumbaugh, two of the team’s young guns, no one looked comfortable under center for the Tribe.
The team also had major issues at wide receiver last season and, like quarterback, those issues have gone unresolved. William and Mary already lost senior wideouts DJ Mangas and Ryan Woolfolk and tight end Alex Gottlieb to graduation last season but has not seen anyone step up to take their place. A healthy Ryan Moody will aid the team greatly, and Tre McBride continues to develop his skill set. A bright spot for the team was Anthony Johnson, a true speedster who missed all of last season. But somewhat bafflingly talented receiver and Tribal Fever favorite, CJ Thomas, continues to be underused by the coaching staff.
Running back is another position on everyone’s mind after All-American Jonathan Grimes graduated, but Meltoya Jones and Keith McBride appeared to be competent backups last season and managed to do very well in the spring game. Darnell Laws also had a good day, showcasing his size and strength on a couple of tackle breaking, defender dragging carries. The success at running back should not be much of a surprise because the team returns four of five linemen from last year’s team, including John A. Stewart Winter Warrior Award winner, Trevor Springman.
The Tribe’s defense outplayed the offense on Saturday and was bolstered by the return of cornerback Jesse McNeal and linebacker Airek Green after both were off the team roster last season. McNeal will particularly help fill the void left by cornerback TK Hester when he left the team earlier this spring. The game was also without defensive lineman George Beerhalter, who was in civvies on the sidelines. Not surprisingly both captains for the season come from the defensive side of the ball. Vocal senior linebacker Jabrel Mines and standout senior safety Brian Thompson will don the captain’s “C” next season.
Finally, the highlight of the game may have been John Carpenter’s fifty-two yard field goal. But before Tribe fans get too excited, it should also be noted that the special teams unit managed to have a twenty-five yarder blocked. So it seems that the Tribe’s special teams’ miscues are not entirely behind them. But that and many issues will hopefully be put to bed by the time team squares of with Maryland in College Park this fall.