Greetings, Lion Fans, that time has come. The competition has ratcheted up considerably in the Thunderwolves of #22 ranked Colorado State-Pueblo. The Blue Gang faces their stiffest test of the year so far. Let’s get to it.
OVERVIEW-So far in 2018, the defense has carried the Lions to a 3-0 start. While the offense, particularly the passing game has struggled in the early season, as expected, the defense has been the highlight.
This week, though, the Thunderwolves of CSU-Pueblo present the Lions with the greatest challenge so far. They possess a huge offensive line, good run/pass balance, speed, and are explosive. They have at least three scoring plays of 65 yards or greater. If there is a chink in the armor, it would be the turnover bug. CSU has lost a total of 7 fumbles and 2 interceptions. They had four of them last week in a loss to Colorado Mines.
The Lions, after an early test to A&M-Kingsville in which they gave up 36 points, have clamped down on their last two opponents, giving up 17 to William Jewell, and 11 to Eastern New Mexico(Note: the only touchdown surrendered was after a Lion interception, and the Lions were backed up to their own 5 yard line). They have adapted to Scott Power’s new scheme well, and will need to be at their best.
TALE OF THE TAPE-
Total offense 461.3 ypg
Total Defense-292 ypg
CSU-Pueblo averages 6’0″, 210 lbs. at the skill positions and 6’4″ 304 lbs on the offensive line. The Lions secondary average 5’11” 173 lbs, and the front seven, 6’1″ 239 lbs. Not an unfamiliar position for the Lions to be in, they have made great use of scheme, speed, and quickness to control their opponent, usually adjusting after allowing an early score.
CAST OF CHARACTERS-The Thunderwolves are led by senior quarterback Brandon Edwards, 25-43, 458 yards, 2 TD’s , 1 INT, with a long completion of 68 yards. Marche Dennard leads the rushing attack, 31-303, 5 TD’s, with a long run of 70 yards. Cole Frosgren heads up the receiving corps with 12 catches for 215 yards, 1TD, with a long of 68.
The Lion defense is led by Brucks Saathoff, last week’s D2 Defensive Player of the week, with 18 tackles against Eastern New Mexico. Saathoff has 38 total tackles, followed by Jaylon Edwards-Cooper with 14, and Dominque Ramsey with 11. Michael Onoha has been a force on the defensive line with 4 1/2 sacks.
THE BOTTOM LINE-The great equalizer this week will be the weather in Commerce. Rain is expected in the forecast, and could make this a battle of rushing attacks and defense. This favors the Lions, as the three-headed attack of Carandale Hale, EJ Thompson, and Ovie Urevbu, have stepped up to ease the pressure on Preston Wheeler and the Lion passing game.
THE FINAL VERDICT-Make no mistake, the Thunderwolves bring a sizeable, explosive offense into Commerce. The Lions face their greatest test. If the Lions are able to limit the explosive plays, work out some of the kinks in the passing game, and keep the faith in what they have done so far this season to carry them to their 3-0 record, they win.