W&M's Caskin stays determined despite the losses

Contact Reporterdjohnson@dailypress.com

Two years ago, Andrew Caskin was the starting tight end for an offense that averaged 31 points a game and went to the NCAA playoffs. Those were the days.

Now, William and Mary is scoring 14.4 points a game, which would be the program’s lowest figure since 1980. The Tribe is the only team in the Colonial Athletic Association that hasn’t won a conference game this season.

Not exactly the swan song Caskin and his fellow seniors had envisioned.

“It’s been hard for everyone involved — the coaches and the players,” Caskin said Tuesday morning. “It’s been hard to stomach after games. You just have that empty feeling. But we have no choice but to keep playing, keep going and keep working.

“We worked really hard in the summer, we worked really hard in the winter, and we worked really hard in camp. And we’ll continue to work hard. It’s just not working on game days.”

W&M (2-6, 0-5 CAA) has lost five consecutive games for the first time since the end of the 2012 season. The Tribe will finish with consecutive losing seasons for the first time since 2011-12.

In last week’s 23-6 loss at Maine, W&M averaged 3.2 yards per offensive play and completed 6 of 22 passes. It was the second time in three games the Tribe failed to score a touchdown.

Of the 123 FCS teams, William and Mary is 114th in scoring, 110th in total offense (270 yards per game) and 113th in passing offense (129.3 ypg).

The problems have been well-documented: Instability/inexperience at quarterback, a season-ending injury to top wideout DeVonte Dedmon and only freshmen at running back. Those are only the tangible ones.

“We just haven’t been able to put drives together,” Caskin said. “I think it’s the little things, and I know that’s cliché. We miss a call on first down and it’s second-and-12. That puts us in a tough spot with a young quarterback, and we can’t let that happen.”

As for the quarterback situation, Caskin has seen all three give their best. But none of them — junior Tommy McKee, sophomore Brandon Battle and true freshman Shon Mitchell — have been able to consistently move the team.

Of W&M’s 101 offensive possessions, only 19 (13 touchdowns, six field goals) have ended with points.

“I think Tommy has shown flashes of moving our offense,” Caskin said. “Shon’s a young guy and it’s a tough spot to be in.”

Injuries also have been an issue. Dedmon broke his wrist in the season opener and hasn’t returned. Left tackle Chris Durant has missed three games with first a knee and now a shoulder injury. He isn’t expected to play at 2 p.m. Saturday at Zable Stadium against New Hampshire.

Last week against Maine, the Tribe also missed receivers Daniel Kuzjak and Jalen Christian with injuries.

The 2016 season also was frustrating for the Tribe. Following a 9-4 finish in 2015, W&M was ranked as high as sixth nationally in the preseason polls. Instead, it finished 5-6 and missed the playoffs.

In the season finale, the Tribe beat No. 7 Richmond 34-13. But Caskin is hoping for more than just one more win.

“I’m looking for three great Saturdays to come,” he said. “We believe this will be the Saturday we break through and have a great performance.”

Notes

Right guard Nathan McConnell, who injured his knee against Maine, is doubtful for Saturday’s game. …

Asked which quarterback he plans to go with Saturday, W&M coach Jimmye Laycock responded, “I don’t know who I’m going with today, much less Saturday.” He said the starter will likely be either McKee or Mitchell but that Battle “is still in the mix.”

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

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