So. Your defense knows what's coming. How hard can it be to stop it?
Very, in the case of Georgia Southern's triple option.
Junior quarterback Jaybo Shaw, a transfer from Georgia Tech, attempted just six passes and completed three for 31 yards, but he tied a career single-game high with three rushing TDs and had 87 yards on 18 carries. Freshman fullback Robert Brown had a career-high 178 yards on a TD on 24 carries, while sophomore slot players J.J. Wilcox and Darreion Robinson combined for 128 yards on 10 attempts.
"It's so frustrating, because you know it's going to be a run," William and Mary senior linebacker Evan Francks said. "It's so hard to explain. They're running downhill at you. The linemen just fly out and cut you. They just dive at your legs, and it's hard to get off that. As linebackers, we got off it well, but then the next guy comes out and gets you.
"So I just don't think we made enough plays. We did have a good opportunity to, but they just flat-out beat us."
Brown opened the game with a 45-yard run, and Robinson opened the second game with a 44-yard scamper.
The Tribe's run defense, gashed for 215 yards in a season-opening loss to Massachusetts, had made steady strides before giving up 266 yards on Nov. 13 to James Madison, running a modified version of the option with receiver-turned-QB Dae'Quan Scott. But William and Mary rebounded the next week to hold Richmond to just 62 yards on the ground.
"It's so unlike us not to have three-and-outs every series," said Francks, whose defense surrendered 24 first downs and allowed the Eagles to convert seven of 12 third-down opportunities. "It honestly felt like JMU all over again."
The Tribe, victimized by several big plays from Georgia Southern, struggled to manufacture any of its own. With William and Mary down 24-15 late in the third quarter, Mike Callahan finally seemed to change that, hitting a wide-open Ryan Moody deep down the middle for a 44-yard gain that would have given the Tribe the ball at the Eagles' 8-yard line.
But the play came back on a holding penalty, one of eight penalties for 54 yards committed by William and Mary, which came into the game averaging 4.6 flags for 35 yards per game, 14th-fewest in the country.
"(There were) some tough calls that went against us," Tribe coach Jimmye Laycock said. "Not many went for us. Obviously that long pass was a big one. We don't normally get those. We're the least-penalized team in our league for a reason."
William and Mary has sold out three home games at 12,259-seat Zable Stadium this season, but just 8,243 — 4,016 less than capacity — turned out for Saturday's game. The Tribe, the No. 2 national seed, would have had home field advantage up until the Jan. 7 national championship game, to be played in Frisco, Texas.