Much has changed in the two years since William and Mary’s football program last visited Virginia.
What hasn’t faded is how vividly the Tribe recalls their 26-14 victory over a bigger-name in-state foe.
“My most memorable moment was when B.W. [Webb] picked off that ball and ran it for the touchdown,” running back Jonathan Grimes recalled earlier this summer. “I was like ‘Man, that’s the dagger right there.’ “
The rematch comes Saturday at Scott Stadium, as William and Mary (8-4 last season) opens an especially promising season. The Tribe is the preseason pick to capture the CAA, a league with six of the top 16 teams (and seven of the top 25) in one poll in the former Division I-AA.
In short, the opener hardly will make the Tribe’s season. It doesn’t mean they aren’t looking forward to another trip up Interstate 64.
“I’m ready to go,” defensive end Marcus Hyde said before camp started. “Round 2. Let’s do it again.”
Virginia possesses a vastly different look than 2009, when Al Groh was still the Cavaliers’ coach. Mike London, who was an assistant under Tribe coach Jimmye Laycock for four seasons in the early 1990s, is entering his second season in Charlottesville.
While many of the names have changed at William and Mary, the Tribe still possesses plenty of talent.
“We have some good players,” Laycock said. “It’s been my thing over the years that good players don’t necessarily make good teams or average players don’t necessarily make bad teams. It’s how they come together.”
Another high-profile upset - this time against a Virginia outfit hoping to snap a three-year bowl drought - would help that aim.
“It’s going to be a challenge,” Grimes said. “It’s not like they’re going to be sleeping on us or anything. It’s going to be fair game from the first snap.”
Elsewhere in the region:
• Georgetown: Defensive end Andrew Schaetzke, who led the Patriot League with 15 tackles for loss, is one of 13 starters back for the Hoyas. Georgetown went 4-7 last year, its best season since 2005.
• Howard: First-year coach Gary Harrell inherits a team that went 1-10 a year ago. Reversing a minus-21 turnover margin from 2010 might be the biggest priority for the Bison.
• James Madison: Justin Thorpe, the Dukes’ primary quarterback in 2009, missed nearly all of last season with an injury and earned the job back in camp. Madison, which went 6-5 last season, will open an expanded Bridgeforth Stadium on Sept. 10 against Central Connecticut.