Greetings, Lion fans, and it’s time to take a look at what is the most important matchup for the Lions if they are to be successful this Saturday…..defense. Let’s take a look at how the Blue Gang lines up with the Minnesota-Duluth Bulldog offense.
OVERVIEW-The Lion defense comes in on a roll. With four defensive touchdowns in the past five weeks, Scott Power’s crew seems to be peaking at just the right time. The Lions limited a very capable Angelo State offense to eight total first downs, allowing a lone score after an interception that set the Rams up in Lion territory.
Minnesota-Duluth comes in with, not a particularly explosive offense, but one that still averages over 450 yards per game, and has a great run/pass balance. They have a very big offensive line which wears opponents down over the course of a 60 minute game.
TALE OF THE TAPE-
Points- 19.2 ppg
Rushing- 120.6 ypg
Passing- 178.0 ypg
Total- 298.6 ypg.
Turnover Differential- -8
Front Seven Size Average- 6’1″ 235 lbs.
Secondary Size Average-6’0″ 178 lbs.
Points- 43.0 ppg
Passing- 252.7 ypg
Total- 470.4 ypg
Turnover Differential- +5
Skills Position Size Average- 6’0″ 205 lbs.
Offensive Line Size Average- 6’3″ 288 lbs.
CAST OF CHARACTERS- The Bulldogs are led on offense by running back Wade Sullivan, with 607 yards on 111 carries, with 9 touchdowns. Quarterback John Larson follows with 513 yards on 82 carries, with 5 touchdowns. Mike Rybarczyk contributes 356 yards in 54 carries, with 4 touchdowns.
Nate Ricci leads the Bulldog receivers with 506 yards on 36 receptions with 2 touchdowns. Obi Ibeneme is the home run hitter with 361 yards on 28 receptions, including and 80 yarder. Johnny McCormick chips in with 397 yards on 23 catches and 5 touchdowns.
The Lions continue to be led on defense by linebacker Brucks Saathoff, with 85 tackles (45 solo), followed by Garrett Blubaugh with 59 tackles (29 solo), Mark Westbrook with 57 (39 solo), and Neema Behbahani with 54 (27 solo) .
The Lions are playing a much more aggressive and attacking style this season, as evidenced by Michael Onoha’s 6 1/2 sacks. Pierre Leonard is close behind with 4, followed by Jaylon Hodge with 3.
Dominque Ramsey leads the Lions with 3 interceptions, but when he picks one off, he makes the most of it. All three have gone for touchdowns.
SPECIAL TEAMS-The Lions have absolutely dominated here. Teams simply refuse to kick deep to Reggie Kincade anymore. Kincade averages 38.7 yards per return, and has 2 touchdowns. The aforementioned Dominique Ramsey is a thrill a minute on punt returns, averaging 10.8 yards per return, with a touchdown, and always seems to be a threat.
Tristan Perry averages 40.2 yards on 50 kicks, while Kristov Martinez is 14 for 19 on field goals, and booted a personal best 52 yarder last week against Angelo State.
The Bulldogs are led in kick returns by Dain Hudson, who averages 25.7 yards on 6 returns. Nate Ricci averages 11.4 yards on 14 punt returns. Cameron Hausman averages 40.6 yards on 27 punts, while also 2 for 5 on field goals. Dan Branger has connected on 5 field goals in 11 attempts.
CLOSING ARGUEMENTS/FINAL VERDICT-The Lions, while out sized, posess the edge in talent, speed, and scheme. The Bulldogs, holding a considerable advantage in size, prefer to wear down opponents. The key for the Lions is to get the Bulldogs off the field on third down, and not allow themselves to be worn down. If they can do that, they win.
5 games. That’s what it comes down to now. One play, one series, one quarter, one half at a time. Block out the noise and distractions, focus on the fundamentals, and play the way this team is capable of playing.
The target is still on the Lions’ back, as it has been all season, being the defending champion. They’re on the road again, in the cold weather. They have been there before. There’s no reason they can’t do this again.
Remember……Don’t ever underestimate the heart of a champion.
See You Saturday