Greetings, Lion fans, and first let me wish all of you and your families a Happy Thanksgiving from all of us here at The Wire. It’s a good situation to be in when you’re still playing football over the holiday. You have to be a pretty good team. And the Lions are most certainly a good team. Let’s take a look at the most important matchup, the Lion defense vs. the Texan offense.
OVERVIEW- Bottom line, if the Lions are to be successful, here is where they’ll win it. They have been absolutely dominating down the stretch, both defensively and on special teams. In their previous loss to Tarleton, the Lions were within a touchdown going into the fourth quarter before the collective meltdown due to being on the field too long, and frustration with what can only be described as questionable officiating. The Blue Gang limited Minnesota-Duluth to 13 total first downs and 42 yards rushing. The Bulldogs did not have an offensive touchdown.
The Texans come into the game this weekend riding an 11 game win streak and #2 ranking in Super Region 4. They are fresh off of a 58-0 beat down of Azuza Pacific. Their closest game this year has been a 35-34 overtime thriller over #16 Midwestern State. The Texans are a predominately run first team, but have a very good passing game that can hit the opponent for a big play. They were most successful in the previous matchup with the Lions by pounding the running game and finally wearing down the defense.
TALE OF THE TAPE-
Points- 19.0 ppg
Rushing- 114.1 ypg
Passing- 175.3 ypg
Total- 289.4 ypg
Front Seven Size Average- 6’1″ 235 lbs.
Secondary Size Average- 6’0″ 178 lbs.
Points- 49.1 ppg
Rushing- 319.3 ypg
Passing- 206.3 ypg
Total- 526.0 ypg
Skills Position Size Average- 6’0″ 207 lbs.
Offensive Line Size Average- 6’3″ 303 lbs.
CAST OF CHARACTERS- The Texans are led on offense by Harlon Hill Award Nominee, running back Xavier Turner, with 1,306 yards on 177 attempts, with 21 touchdowns. Daniel McCants isn’t far behind with 943 yards on 133 attempts with 6 touchdowns. Adam Berryman chips in with yards on 101 attempts with 7 touchdowns.
Senior quarterback Ben Holmes directs the Texan attack, throwing for 2, 255 yards on 145-236 passing, with 26 touchdowns and 4 interceptions.
The Texan receivers are led by Zamari Manning, with 37 receptions for 756 yards and 11 touchdowns. Sophomore J.F. Thomas is close behind with 483 yards on 20 catches, with 6 touchdowns. Senior Savon Rollison chimes in with 336 yards on 22 receptions with 2 touchdowns.
The Lion defense continues to be led by senior linebacker Brucks Saathoff, wiht 87 tackles (46 solo), followed by senior linebacker Garrett Blubaugh, with 69 tackles (36 solo). Mark Westbrook has 63 tackles (43 solo), and Neema Behbahani has contributed 58 stops (30 solo).
The Lion defense has been proficient in rushing the passer, as evidenced by Michael Onoha’s 6 1/2 sacks, followed closely by Pierre Leonard, and Deionte Hayward with 4 each.
SPECIAL TEAMS- They were oh so very special for the Lions last week. Dominique Ramsey’s 79 yard thriller broke open a tight game just before halftime. Ramsey leads the Lions, averaging 12.7 yards on 35 returns. He has 2 touchdowns on the year, and always seems to be a threat.
Opposing teams just refuse to kick deep to senior Reggie Kincade anymore. The senior defensive back is averaging 34.9 yards on 17 returns with 2 touchdowns, and, when he gets his hands on the ball, always seems to end up in the opponent’s territory.
Tristan Perry has been a solid, steady, punter this season, averaging 39.2 yards on 59 kicks. Kristov Martinez is 16-21 on field goals, with a long of 52 yards.
The Texans are led in punt returns by senior defensive back Prince Robinson, averaging 18.8 yards on 7 returns, with a touchdown. Daniel McCants leads the kick returners, averaging 30.6 yards on 10 returns, with a touchdown.
Ron Reid has been a very good punter for the Texans, averaging 42.8 yards on 41 punts. Joanly Martinez has been a very serviceable placekicker, who is a perfect 10 of 10 on the year, with a long kick of 36.
CLOSING ARGUEMENTS/FINAL VERDICT- It’s not often that you get a second chance at things. A chance to make things right. To avenge a perceived wrong. That’s what the Lions have here.
That being said, the emotion, frustration, and anger are the very things the Lions need to set aside. Most games are won by the team that focuses on the task at hand, executes their game plan, overcomes adversity, and makes fewer mistakes.
And that’s what the Lions need to do. As I’ve quoted before, don’t worry about the horse being blind, just load the wagon. Just focus on holding onto the ball, move the chains, and avoid the self-inflicted wounds, and they can win this game. Remember, Lion fans, the game in October was a nip and tuck affair going into the fourth quarter. Every indication points to things going that way again.
Happy Turkey Day, Lion fans. Isn’t it fun to still be playing?
I’ll see you in Stephenville.