CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) — Mike London has coached a lot of football games at Virginia, either as the head coach or as an assistant., He also has several members of his staff at William & Mary that played in those games he coached at Virginia.
So when the Tribe travels to Scott Stadium to play Virginia on Friday night, London, his staff and his staff will be in familiar surroundings — albeit from the visitors’ locker room.
“There are mixed emotions, but the main focus is to prepare a team to go play a really good team,” said London, who was named the ACC coach of the year in 2011 at Virginia but was fired as the Cavaliers’ coach after the 2015 season.
The Tribe (1-0) is coming off a 30-17 victory against Lafayette in London’s first game as coach. It used a 24-point third quarter to take command behind dual-threat freshman quarterback Hollis Mathis, who ran for 127 yards.
Virginia (1-0) ended a four-game losing streak against Pittsburgh with a 30-14 victory at Pitt in its opener, and will face a non-traditional style of offense. Mathis threw for just 66 yards in 13 attempts against Lafayette, and the Tribe also used Kilton Anderson (4-8, 100 yards) and Ted Hefter (1-1, minus 3 yards) behind center.
“I think you could say it’s not triple-option, but their approach is unique and diverse enough to where the chance to be prepared in one week is difficult,” said Virginia coach Bronco Mendenhall, who replaced London.
The Cavaliers were disruptive defensively against Pittsburgh, allowing just 263 yards while forcing two turnovers and registering four sacks and seven tackles behind the line of scrimmage. They also blocked a punt.
London knows his team, and especially its young quarterback, will have its hands full. William & Mary has lost 29 times in 36 meetings of the programs and last won in 2009 during Al Groh’s final season as Virginia’s coach.
“Their defense, they’re probably going to blitz,” London said. “They’re going to do a lot of things. The young quarterback for us is going to start so they’ll probably put heat and pressure on him.”
Some other things to watch when William & Mary visits Virginia:
Dual-threat quarterback Bryce Perkins and his running ability is a big reason why Virginia was picked to win the ACC’s Coastal Division, and any opportunity to limit his exposure to injury is likely welcome. That could mean the Tribe sees a conservative attack with heavy doses of running backs Wayne Taulapapa and PK Kier and more throwing than running from Perkins.
William & Mary had all four of its quarterbacks on the field for its first offensive play against Lafayette with Ted Hefter taking the snap and Fresno State transfer Kilton Anderson hitting Zach Burdick for a 49-yard completion.
DON’T WE KNOW YOU?
London’s staff includes seven assistants who either played or coached at Virginia. Defensive coordinator Vincent Brown was a Virginia assistant and Matt Johns, Ras-I Dowling, Darryl Blackstock, Josh Zidenberg, Gordon Sammis and Keenan Carter all played for Virginia. Johns, Zidenberg and Sammis also worked as graduate assistants.
Games that look lopsided on paper can turn the underdog’s way with a big play on special teams, and William & Mary has been making them. The Tribe blocked five kicks last season and swatted a field goal try against Lafayette.
KEEPING THINGS CLOSE
William & Mary has a history of keeping things close in its games against FBS programs and has owned second-half leads in four of its last 10 such games. The Tribe lost 35-29 at Virginia in 2015, 24-17 at West Virginia 2013, 7-6 at Maryland in 2012 and 21-17 at North Carolina in 2010.