Greetings, Lions fans, and in this week’s edition of the Notebook, we’ll take a look at a team that has been a real thorn in our paws, Midwestern State. The past few seasons, the Mustangs have enjoyed upsetting the Lions season. Now, though, it’s time to return the favor. Before we begin, let’s take a look at what was a virtuoso performance in the Rio Grande Valley.
LOOKING BACK-After a first half in which the Blue Gang struggled with the big play, and getting off the field on first down, Coach Xavier Adibi and his staff put the clamps on the Javelinas, and shut them out in the second half. TAMUK had a net 32 yards rushing for the game. You are reading that right, 32 yards net rushing FOR THE GAME. That is what my colleague Billy Minor calls Championship Level defense. They were also outstanding in the passing game, limiting Kingsville to less than 5 yards per pass attempt, and less than 10 yards per completion. Senior Linebacker Terrell Collins led the way with 11 tackles (6 solo). Red shirt junior defensive lineman Jaylon Hodge contributed 7 stops (5 solo). True freshman Spencer Long seemed to make every tackle on special teams.
Overall, a fantastic team effort, one we knew they were capable of, but had yet to see the level of dominance that we saw last week.
Now, on to the Mustangs…..
UP FRONT/TALE OF THE TAPE-
Mustangs Offensive Line-6’3″ 294 lbs.
Lions Front Six(D Line & Linebackers)-6’0″ 259 lbs.
The Mustangs definitely have some size on the offensive line. They are led by sophomore tackle Colton Scarber, 6’5″ 275 lbs., and senior guard Keith Domino, 6’4″ 330 lbs. Bill Maskill’s offense likes to push people around, and with linemen like these, they are very capable of it.
The Lions are led up front by senior Pierre Leonard, and Chris Williams, and they have created some real havoc on the interior of the defensive line. Senior linebackers Terrell Collins and Neema Behbahani seem to always be around the ball making a play.
MOVERS AND SHAKERS/THE BACK LINE
The Mustang rushing attack is led by senior Quniton Childs, 5’10” 180 lbs. with 526 yards on 86 attempts, 3 touchdowns, with a long of 48. Red shirt sophomore Lazarus Fisher, 5’10” 167 lbs. has 139 yards on 35 carries, also with 3 touchdowns, and a long of 19 yards.
The receiving corps for Midwestern is led by senior Xavier Land, a rangy 6’4″ 205 lb. wide out that presents match up problems for just about anyone. He has 26 catches for 340 yards, with 2 touchdowns, and a long of 36 yards. Senior Tyrique Edwards, 6’0″ 192 lbs., has 14 catches for 179 yards, 1 touchdown, and a long of 36 yards.
The Mustang attack is directed by sophomore Triston Williams, 6’3″ 200 lbs, who will be making his second start of the year this weekend. Williams is 22-44, 275 yards, with 2 touchdowns, and a long of 30 yards. He has been picked off once.
The Lions back line is led by red shirt junior Alex Shillow, who continues to make big play after big play. The latest, which was noted in the Pre Snap Read, kicked the Lions into high gear. Redshirt junior Kader Kohou returned from injury and turned in a great performance, along with senior corner LA Dawson, and senior Jaylon Edwards-Cooper.
VERY SPECIAL, INDEED-Redshirt junior Dominque Ramsey, was again victimized by great punting from Kingsville, and never really was able to get loose, save for one return. He’s still the kind of player that keeps fans on the edge of their seats.
The Mustangs punting chores are handled by sophomore Dylan Spears with 34 kicks for a 37.5 yard average, with a long of 57 yards. He has yet to have a kick blocked this season.
A name Lions fans will remember takes care of the kicking responsibilities. Senior Jarod Imbriani is 2-4, with a long of 28 yards. Imbriani was the kicker that missed the field goal in overtime which gave the Lions a 20-19 victory in one of the strangest games I have ever witnessed.
BY THE NUMBERS-
WHAT’S GOING DOWN/THE VERDICT-
And so it begins, Lion fans. If you want to win a conference, or a national championship, as the Lions are quite familiar with, then these are the type of games you look forward to.
And boy, is it a big one. The biggest so far. ESPN is coming to town, giving the Lions a national television audience. A bitter rival is coming, with a penchant for for spoiling a season.
It is not a team that comes without flaws. Bill Maskill’s crew comes to town on the heels of a two game losing streak. Their defense surrenders close to 180 yards rushing per game, and the Lions are coming off a 260 yard effort.
The checklist for the Lions is simple: 1. Play Smart (no unsportsmanlike penalities). 2. Establish Dominance-This is a team coming in on a down note. Hit them fast, hit them early, and don’t let them hang around. 3. Ball Security-The Mustangs thrive on turnovers. Control the ball, keep their defense on the field, and wear them down. 4. Keep Miklo Smalls upright-Smalls has the potential to be one of the great Lion QB’s. He’s uncannily accurate, and is able to make plays with his feet, a dimension not seen around Commerce in some time. 5. To borrow a quote from the great coach John Madden.
“Don’t worry about the horse being blind, just load the wagon.” John Madden
Translated, focus on the task at hand, and don’t look ahead to the game with Tarleton State next week.
The Lions have a real chance here to make a statement to the rest of the country here. They have a huge advantage in running the football, and should look to exploit it. The key word here, Lion fans, is balance. Keep the defense guessing.
It’s Hall of Fame and Letter Winner’s Weekend. There’s not a better time to lay a beat down on a bitter rival.
See You At The Hawk.