Coach Rob Ambrose said the short-term goal for the Towson football team was coming out of last week's bye getting healthy. The Tigers may have accomplished that, but they also know that they will finish the remainder of the season without their leading receiver.
Junior Spencer Wilkins led the team in both receiving yards (691) and touchdown catches (four), but he sat out Towson's 32-31 loss to Delaware on Nov. 2 after suffering an undisclosed injury in the team's 48-32 victory over Richmond on Oct. 26.
Without Wilkins, senior quarterback Peter Athens completed a season-low 47.3 percent (9-of-19) of his passes and threw for just 160 yards – which ranks as his second-lowest total of the season – in the setback to the Blue Hens.
The loss of Wilkins, who eclipsed the 100-yard mark in three consecutive games earlier in the year, has impacted the offense.
"He's a vet and leader of the group," coach Rob Ambrose said Monday morning during a conference call arranged by the Colonial Athletic Association. "He has a twin in [senior] Leon Kinnard, who has taken more of a leadership role with those guys and done a good job. Missing a starter, missing your elite wideout is difficult, but just like it is for all the season-ending injuries we've had this year, we're counting on the next guy to step up at that position and the other 10 guys to rally around that position. So as it is always, it's not about what happens. It's how you deal and we'll find a way."
Wilkins' absence would seem to put the onus on junior Derrick Joseph (one catch for 19 yards against Delaware), sophomore Arionne Scott (one reception for 20 yards) and junior Brian Dowling (three catches for 11 yards) to complement Kinnard (three receptions for 105 yards).
That task could be difficult when the Tigers (8-2 overall and 4-2 in the league) tangle with William & Mary (7-3, 4-2), which ranks third in the CAA against the pass (192.2 yards per game) and has allowed a nation-best seven passing touchdowns.
But Tribe coach Jimmye Laycock laughed at the notion that Towson might stall without Wilkins.
"They look pretty good to me," he said. "They can balance everything. They do a very good job in the run, the pass, the play action. It seems like they have a very good way of keeping you off balance. But anytime you've got that tailback [junior Terrance West] back there, he can do a lot of things."