First and foremost, a very Happy Thanksgiving to all of you who have promoted this site and contributed to it. I am very thankful for all you and your friendship. I hope tomorrow is a day full of fun, family, and great food. Now, onto the 5 thoughts.
- Same song, somewhat different verse. UCW is a running team. That is what they do, and they do it very well. They average almost 245 yards per game rushing. That is a lot of yardage, and they do that by banging their weight around, while killing clock and punishing their opponents physically. This will be another test up front for the Lions to see who wins the battle of the lines. Senior Austin Pernell is the leading rusher for the Wildcats, who has rushed for 741 yards and 10 touchdowns. He is the best of the bunch, but the Cats have 4 backs who have rushed for over 450 yards this year. It is a complete running back by committee and will be interesting to see who keeps the upper hand.
- The Quarterback we are facing Saturday is a good one, and for a running QB, is a very good passer. Reilly Hennesey has looked good as he has thrown for 2,286 yards and 26 touchdown passes, completing 192 passes out of 284 attempts. He is accurate and can throw the long ball as well, but runs very well also. He has to be pressured into making hurried throws and not given forever to pick his poison. Keeping him at bay will be critical because he can hurt a team with with his arm or legs.
- On offense, attacking will be critical. UCW ranks 72nd in the country in passing defense. This is one where you have to let Luis Perez get the ball to the skill guys and let them do the work. Setting up the run by using the fear of the pass is what will get the Lions where they need to be. Last week, Carandal Hale did just that. What you saw was Winona State dropping people back into coverage and from there the running lanes started to open up wide. UCW has not faced a passing attack like the Lions before, and jumping out ahead and starting strong is a must.
- Defense is going to be about neutralizing their offense by making it one dimensional. They are 73rd in passing offense, which is just a bit better than Winona State. Last week was as success because it caused WSU to play keep up and that caused them to make mistakes and turn the ball over. Same thing has to happen here, but like I said earlier, this will be a more challenging QB to face.
- Special teams have to be on their A game. Last week was a fantastic display of great kickoff coverage and punt return coverage. Kristov Martinez did a great job hitting 2 huge field goals and putting the ball out of the end zone on every kickoff, while Tristan Perry continued to show he is the punter of the future with his impressive display, even in the wind. If this unit wins the day, the Lions win the game. Period.