Greetings, Lion fans, and welcome to this week’s edition of the Pre Snap Read, where we take a look at the defense of the Wolves of Western Oregon University.
THE SKINNY- The Wolves are a member of the Great Northwest Athletic Conference, and are also home to Central Washington, an opponent Lion fans are familiar with. The Wolves dropped their season opener to the Angelo State Rams, 45-20, and return home to welcome the Lions. The Lions opened the season with an 83-0 defeat of UNL, a Mexican college team. Despite the lopsided score, there are many questions for the Lions to answer. Let’s get into the details.
UP FRONT/TALE OF THE TAPE- The men in the trenches size up like this:
Lion offensive line- 6’3″ 290 lbs.
Wolves defensive line-6’2″ 288 lbs.
The Lions rushed for over 300 yards last week, but are sure to face a stiffer test this time. Western Oregon has some size on their defensive line, led by redshirt freshman Tyrell Cummings at 6’0″ 315 lbs, and defensive end Court Hammond, a 6’6″ 290 lbs. senior.
The Wolves allowed Angelo State 238 yards rushing in 38 attempts, with 3 touchdowns, and gave up 216 yards passing. Ram quarterbacks completed 21 of 27 passes with 3 touchdowns.
The Lions did a great job filling in for Travis Dafft, 6’1″ 290 lb. center, by sliding Christian Hernandez, 6’1″, 285 lb. redshirt junior over from guard, and the line never missed a beat.
An old, unwelcome friend returned to the Lions in the form of penalties, with 10 flags for 95 yards total. The majority appeared to be holding. It is an issue that David Bailiff and his staff are sure to address this week.
The Lions should be able to win the war in the trenches this week, provided they maintain the cohesiveness, and clean up the penalized mistakes.
SKILLS-The position groups here break down about even.
Lion skill players-6’1″ 200 lbs.
Wolves skill players-6’1″ 203 lbs.
The Lions are led in receiving by senior Ryan Stokes, a 6’3″ 185 lb. senior with 1 catch for 36 yards. Kelan Smith, a 6’1″ 190 lb. red shirt junior, also had a catch for 31 yards and a touchdown. Senior Tyler Guice, 6’3″ 250 lbs., also had a 14 yard catch for a touchdown.
The Lions were led in rushing by true freshman Spencer Long, who had 7 rushes for 73 yards and a score, followed by Antonio Lealiee, who had 8 rushes for 65 yards and a touchdown. J.T. Smith, a junior transfer, had a 60 yard burst for a score.
Miklo Smalls completed all four of his pass attempts for 103 yards and two touchdowns.
The leading tacklers for the Wolves are all from the back line. Outside linebacker Jaylin Parnell, a 6’0″ 215 lb. sophomore, leads with 8 total tackles (3 solos), followed by strong safety Joey Sinclair, a red shirt sophomore, with 8 total tackles (5 solos). Free safety Curtis Anderson, a 6’2″ 205 lb. junior, has 6 total tackles (4 solo). Senior cornerback Derek Parnell, 5’11” 190 lb. senior, also has an interception.
At first glance, the match ups here seem to be pretty even. The Lion starters didn’t play much last week, so it remains to be seen how they react to a significant upgrade in competition.
VERY SPECIAL, INDEED-After a shaky first PAT attempt, Jake Visquez, a 5’10” 190 lb. red shirt junior, was accurate with his kicks, and included a 24 yard field goal. His kickoffs had good hang time, and was able to direct them where needed.
Braelen Evans had 4 punt returns for the Wolves for a total of 4 yards. Free safety Curtis Anderson returned 4 kickoffs for just over a 20 yard average.
WHAT’S GOING DOWN-There are some many questions things to wonder about the Lions, despite the win last week. The starters were not in the game long, and the level of talent from UNL was far below expectations. There were a rash of penalties, and some missed assignments. On the other hand, valuable game experience was gained by players who normally might not see much action, but need to be ready if called upon. That was a hallmark of much Lion success in recent years. Depth of talent with game experience was crucial at times.
Western Oregon, despite the loss last week, is certainly a step up for the Lions. They’re sure to be hurting, and an opponent that has been soundly defeated and returning home can be very tough indeed.
Issues still need to be settled, and questions answered. We will see this Saturday in the city of Monmouth, Oregon. Stay tuned to the website or The Lion Wire Facebook page for quarterly updates.