There’s no shortage of familiarity between North Carolina and William & Mary. UNC offensive coordinator John Shoop will face his brother, Tribe defensive coordinator Bob Shoop, and North Carolina coach Butch Davis will face one of his former quarterbacks, Mike Paulus.
It’s the first time the Shoop brothers have coached against each other during their professional careers, and it’s the first time Davis has coached against one of his former players. Paulus, who came to UNC in 2007, transferred to William & Mary this past January and has started the past three games.
“It is a little bit unique,” Davis said. “I don’t think I’ve ever faced that before. Mike’s a very good kid. He’s a very good quarterback. He’s led them to some significant victories during the course of this season. The bizarreness of it is, it is a little bit odd that somebody who played for you is on the field playing for another team. I don’t think I’ve personally ever faced it.”
Paulus has led his team to wins over the top two teams in the FCS -- Villanova and Delaware, respectively. He got his opportunity at the expense of injured starter Mike Callahan. Paulus made his first career start for the Tribe against No. 1-ranked Villanova and had a career-best 211 passing yards (20-of-28). It was his second career collegiate start, as he made one in 2008 while playing at North Carolina (at Miami). So far this season, Paulus has completed 60 percent of his passes, and over the past three games, he has completed 73 percent of his third-down attempts.
He’s listed as No. 2 on the depth chart this week, though, behind Callahan. The former walk-on played through a shoulder injury against Delaware, and his status will continue to be evaluated.
John Shoop’s brother has fared well so far, as the Tribe have the No. 8 defense in the FCS, holding opponents to 16 points per game. The rushing defense has also been stingy, allowing just 113 yards per game.
It’s not an opponent UNC can afford to overlook. The Tribe are ranked No. 5 in the FCS coaches' poll.
“Immediately upon watching film, your kids starting making decisions about the talent level of a team, and instantly all of our coaches and all of our players recognized that William & Mary is a very well-coached football team,” Davis said. “Fundamentally, techniques, scheme -- you don’t see them making mistakes. They are in the right places and their kids play very well. They’re a reason they’re ranked as high as they are.”
And two people very familiar with North Carolina have had a lot to do with it.