After rough finish, W&M's Laycock eager to see improvement

Dave Johnson
Contact Reporterdjohnson@dailypress.com

Jimmye Laycock has been around long enough to expect the question. His next birthday will be his 70th.

Will he return for his 39th football season as coach at William and Mary?

Certainly retirement is on his radar. But for now, even after a 2-9 season that saw historically low offensive numbers, Laycock insists he isn’t going anywhere — yet, anyway.

“Next year, I’m good,” Laycock said in his office Tuesday morning. “I can’t say anything after that. We’re good to go. We just finished up a recruiting meeting this morning.

“I’ll take it one year at a time, just like I’ve been doing for however many years. I’m still very much into it. I mean, I do delegate more than I used to. But other than that, I’m still on top of things.”

He’s also undeterred.

Laycock knows better than anyone how poor the Tribe’s offense was this season. He knows the eight-game losing streak W&M closed its season with is the program’s longest since 1975. He knows the Tribe failed to win a conference game for the first time.

But he also knows it was something of a perfect storm, especially on offense.

The Tribe had only inexperience at quarterback, so it needed solid play up front. Instead, left tackle Chris Durant, right guard Nathan McConnell, right tackle Garrett Best and center Nick Wimmer missed a combined 15 games with injuries.

Left guard Connor Hilland was the only lineman who started every game.

Add to that wideout DeVonte Dedmon’s broken wrist in the season opener, which cost the offense its most explosive receiver. Then go back to only inexperience at quarterback.

“You can’t rely on your offensive line and you can’t have your quarterback bailing you out,” Laycock said. “Then your big-play guy, he only plays the first game. You mix all those things … it’s not a good combination.”

The Tribe’s offense averaged 15 points and 285 yards per game. The last time William and Mary did worse in either category was 1980, Laycock’s first season, when it averaged 10.6 points and 235 yards a game.

Junior Tommy McKee started eight games at quarterback, and true freshman Shon Mitchell was first-string for the other three. Laycock said he doesn’t regret taking the redshirt off Mitchell, who only played in the three games he started.

“I think he gained from it,” Laycock said.

What makes it more frustrating for W&M is that its defense played well enough to win almost every week. The Tribe lost games in which it allowed 21, 25, 17 and 23 points.

One thing about finishing 2-9 — improvement is virtually guaranteed. Of the 44 players on the two-deep chart for last week’s finale, 36 are expected to return, and Dedmon should receive a medical redshirt year.

“I certainly think we can be better,” Laycock said. “You never know how things will work out, but given the attitude and the enthusiasm within the players, I certainly feel like we can get better.

“We’ve gone through these lulls over the years at different times. It’s not like it’s the first time we had a bad year. We’ve bounced back pretty good before.”

Johnson can be reached by phone at 757-247-4649. Follow him on Twitter at @DaveJohnsonDP.

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