WILLIAMSBURG — For the defense, the William and Mary spring football game at Zable Stadium on Saturday was an opportunity to shine. For the offense, and the passing game particular, it was an afternoon to gain some often hard-earned experience.
In short, events unfolded about as expected. The most noteworthy aspect of the contest, which ended in a 13-13 tie between the Green and Gold teams, was that the Tribe passed so often.
Some thought it might be a day for showcasing a successor to Jonathan Grimes, who finished his stellar career at W&M with a 2011 season that included 1,431 rushing yards, 2,510 all-purpose yards and 14 touchdowns. And both Meltoya Jones (five carries, 27 yards, one TD) and Keith McBride (four carries, 20 yards) were productive enough in the few carries they got.
But neither, nor perhaps anyone else in the next decade, is expected to be Grimes. So the Tribe will pass the ball more this autumn.
The question is whether the starting passer will be Brent Caprio or Michael Graham. Tribe coach Jimmye Laycock probably won't know the answer himself until late-August, but he gave both plenty repetitions for evaluation.
Caprio was 9-of-20 for 103 yards, with three interceptions. Graham went 3-of-14 for 13 yards.
Those are not great numbers, but, as is often the case with statistics, they don't tell the entire story. Their inexperienced receiving corps dropped seven passes, and the defense was aware that the vast majority of plays would be passes.
"We threw the ball a little more than usual, and I think the (defensive) line was just pinning its ears and the defensive backs were sitting back on some things," Caprio said."We have a balanced attack.
"There are some guys at running back who are pretty good, an offensive line that's good when healthy and the receivers are coming along. I think we're going to have a pretty good offense."
Laycock seemed pleased with the workout his quarterbacks and receivers got, and not at all phased by the dropped passes or five interceptions.
"We weren't as good as I would like for us to be (offensively), but we're mixing everybody together, different quarterbacks and different receivers," said Laycock, who put his quarterbacks in a live hitting situation for the controlled scrimmage. "We made some plays, though I wish we could've made some more.
"We put the quarterbacks in situations where they had had to make some decisions: some were good and some were bad. If you're going to make mistakes, let's make them now and not in the fall.
"I thought it was a very good learning experience. The defense flew around, made some picks and did what we've worked on all spring."
The leaders were, to the surprise of none, cornerback B.W. Webb and safety Brian Thompson. Webb earned first team All-CAA honors last season, while Thompson was on the second team.
Both made life tough on Graham with pass breakups in the first quarter. Caprio had more success early, with a 13-yard scramble and completions of 17 and 24 yards to promising sophomore receiver Sean Ballard (three catches, 47 yards).
But the defense's domination become more complete as the afternoon progressed. Defensive back Ryan Smith notched two of the interceptions, while Jabrel Mines had a pick and generally proved to be difficult to pass on.
"This was a little test of what's to come," Webb said confidently of the defense's prospects for the fall. "Everybody was running around and having fun.
"That's what we wanted to focus on."
NOTES: The Tribe opens its season on Sept. 1 at Maryland, then will host Lafayette on Sept. 8. …Mines and Thompson were announced as the team captains following the game. …offensive lineman Trevor Springman was named the Tribe's Winter Warrior for his work ethic and dedication to offseason training.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun