William and Mary started the season without a quarterback with any game experience.
Eight games into 2010, the Tribe finds itself in the same situation.
William and Mary (6-2, 4-1 CAA), ranked as high as No. 4 in the nation, travels to No. 8 New Hampshire (5-3, 3-2 CAA) on Saturday with redshirt freshman Brent Caprio, who has thrown two passes this season, expected to make the first start of his college career.
"It's a challenge, but he's a smart young man," Tribe coach Jimmye Laycock said. "He's been in the program, and I'm sure he'll do everything he can to prepare himself. … We've got to get some other people ready behind him, too, the way things have gone."
Junior Michael Paulus, the Tribe's No. 2 QB who hurt his shoulder late in last week's game at North Carolina, is listed as Caprio's backup going into Saturday. Starting quarterback Mike Callahan, who re-injured his shoulder after three plays at UNC, is unavailable.
That leaves junior Terrence Schmand, 4-of-7 for 57 yards in four games last season, as William and Mary's only other viable QB option. Redshirt freshman Michael Graham, the Tribe's 2009 scout team offensive play of the year, and redshirt freshman Connor Farrell have nary a college snap between them.
Of equal concern, junior tailback Jonathan Grimes, leading William and Mary with 533 rushing yards and seven touchdowns, didn't practice this week after sustaining a concussion against the Tar Heels, and his availability for Saturday is unknown.
It would stand to reason that all this offensive carnage would put even more pressure on William and Mary, ranked ninth in the nation in scoring defense (16.6 points per game), as it goes up against a Wildcats offense averaging 25.2 points and 363.6 yards.
"Not really," junior defensive end Marcus Hyde said. "We've still got to do what we have to do, regardless. They're going to have their game plan. Every week, we try to keep the (opposing) team to as little points as possible, so we still have to play our game. I think if we change our game, that's going to make it worse on everybody."
Hyde and his fellow DEs have weathered injury woes themselves, with starter Ravi Pradhanang missing the last two games.
"Our coach always tell us we're just reloading," said Hyde, who has 40 tackles, six tackles for loss and 2 1/2 sacks. "Everybody has to step up when somebody goes down.
"If you're going to be a top program, you've got to be able to do that."
A win against New Hampshire, which allows opponents just 15.2 points per game to rank sixth in FCS play, would give the Tribe its third against a top-10 opponent in a season for the first time in school history. It would also boost William and Mary's playoff resume with two regular-season games remaining – at No. 22 James Madison and at home against No. 20 Richmond.
"It's nothing new," Hyde said. "Ranked or not, it's going to be a big game. … Every week, we have to get up the same amount for everybody."
Regardless of who's behind center.
WILLIAM AND MARY (6-2, 4-1 CAA) vs. NEW HAMPSHIRE (5-3, 3-2 CAA)WHEN: Noon.WHERE: Cowell Stadium, Durham, N.H.TV/RADIO: 92.3 FM, 107.9 FMTHE BUZZ: The Tribe, ranked as high as No. 4 in the nation but starting its third-string quarterback, would beat its third top-10 opponent in a season for the first time ever with a win against the No. 8 Wildcats. A seventh victory should also be enough to book William and Mary a playoff spot.THE PICK: William and Mary 24, New Hampshire 20