The Capital Cup Preview: Tribe, Spiders To Meet For 130th Time

All-Access: William & Mary

When it comes to historic college football rivalries few can match The Capital Cup, which features Colonial Athletic Association foes Richmond and William & Mary.

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The two Virginia schools first faced each other in 1898, when Richmond came away with a 15-0 victory. With the exception of three years (1900, 1902 and 1943) the programs have met on the field every season since then. The 130th meeting will take play Saturday at Richmond’s Robins Stadium. The series is tied, 62-62-5.

Only three other series between Division I teams have a longer history:

  1. Lafayette vs. Lehigh (1884, 154 games)
  2. Yale vs. Princeton (1873, 142 games)
  3. Yale vs. Harvard (1875, 135 games)

William & Mary head coach Mike London and Richmond head coach Russ Huesman have each been on both sides of the rivalry. 

London won a national championship as Richmond’s head coach in 2008. He played defensive back for the Spiders from 1979 to 1992, and served as a team captain as a senior. In addition, he had two stints as an assistant coach at Richmond.

Huesman was an assistant coach at William & Mary from 1985 to 1997 and served as the program’s defensive coordinator for his final two seasons with the Tribe. He was also Richmond’s defensive coordinator from 2004 to 2008.

“(Winning this game) can mean a lot for the psychology of your team,” London said. “People always talk about some of the recruiting implications to it, but not as much as wanting to win on the field. It does mean a lot obviously because we’re two in-state schools up the road from each other, but having been on both sides as a coach and a player it is important. It is significant.

“For us, for where we are in our season and what’s ending up for us in terms of losing a lot of seniors, it is an opportunity to end the final game on a positive note.”

William & Mary (4-7, 2-5 CAA) has 27 seniors on its roster. Richmond (5-6, 4-3 CAA) has 10, plus seven redshirt juniors who will be playing in their final game for the Spiders. 

Richmond has won seven of the last eight games between the programs, including the last three.

Give & Take

Richmond is last in the CAA in turnover margin at minus-8. The Spiders have nine takeaways (five fumbles, four interceptions), which is tied with Maine for fewest in the conference. No other CAA team has fewer than 16 takeaways.

“Obviously we’d love to have more turnovers,” Huesman said. “We’ve dropped quite a few interceptions this year. We haven’t been stripping the ball like we should. I’d rather play great defense and get punts and do those types of things than playing poor defense and hoping for turnovers.

“Not getting turnovers is concerning, no question about that. We could potentially have five or six more interceptions if we just pull them down, then it’s not quite as bad, but you have to make those plays. I want our guys to be physical on defense. I want us to tackle well. I want us to get off of blocks. I want us to control the line of scrimmage. Those are important things, and sometimes the turnovers come with that.”

On The Run

Saturday’s game will feature the top two running quarterbacks in the CAA. Richmond’s Joe Mancuso, a redshirt junior, leads the Spiders with 648 yards on 121 carries. He’s the conference’s leading rusher among quarterbacks. William & Mary QB Hollis Mathis is next with 499 yards on 120 rushing attempts.

Fresh Face

Richmond linebacker Tristan Wheeler ranks first among FCS freshman in both tackles (93) and tackles per game (8.5). Wheeler has a chance to become the first freshman in the CAA to record at least 100 tackles in a season since James Madison’s Gage Steele had 106 tackles (8.8 per game) in 2013 as a redshirt freshman. 

Rush To Judgement

William & Mary has averaged 248.3 yards per game on the ground in its last three victories against Richmond, but has been held to an average of 81.2 yards rushing per game during its last 12 losses to the Spiders. 

William & Mary is third among CAA teams in rushing offense (190.5 ypg) this season. Richmond ranks ninth in rushing defense.

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