Playing three of your first four games on the road is a chore. And a Week 5 visit from the reigning national champs may be the season's greatest single test.
But the defining stretch of William and Mary's football regular season will be five closing games against opponents that were a combined 41-20 in 2009.
All had winning seasons last year, and all except Delaware and JMU qualified for postseason.
The North Carolina date, on the road of course, is especially problematic. W&M coach Jimmye Laycock prefers to open the season with the team's annual game versus a Bowl Subdivision opponent, and that's where this contest was originally slotted, on Sept. 4.
But when organizers of the Chick-fil-A Classic in Atlanta, the folks who paired Virginia Tech and Alabama to open 2009, offered the Tar Heels a chance to play LSU, UNC officials asked W&M to move the date.
"That's tough," Laycock said of the season's close. "Obviously putting the Carolina game the latter part of the season was not our first choice. But they asked because they got the LSU thing, and they've been real good to us about scheduling.
"Then the other thing that threw a monkey wrench into things was the conference had to completely redo their schedule because of Hofstra and Northeastern dropping (football) when they did. Then we have three flights to the northeast, UMass, Maine and New Hampshire. That's pretty expensive for us.
"There's some negatives about it, but it is what it is. So we'll see."
The UNC-W&M game will feature two compelling subplots: Tribe quarterback Mike Paulus returning to his original school -- he transferred after last season -- and two brothers coaching directly against one another.
North Carolina offensive coordinator John Shoop is the younger brother of W&M defensive coordinator Bob Shoop.
Bob Shoop said Monday that Internet research uncovered no previous coordinator matchups between brothers. He said the contest has made him and his sibling much more circumspect during their frequent phone conversations.
But while the brothers won't share nearly as much information, there's no changing their personal and professional admiration for one another.
"I was in the NFL for 12 years," John told me last season. "I've been around Hall of Famers. Bob's as good a defensive coach as I've been around anywhere. He's got an innate sense for the game. When you couple that with the intellect he has, it's the real thing. He has an ability to communicate complex things in simple ways."
Teel time: William and Mary's football schedule bottom heavy
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