Greetings, Lions fans, and in this week’s edition of the Notebook, we’ll take a closer look at the match up this Saturday afternoon in Commerce, America, between the Lions and the Falcons of UT-Permian Basin.
In last week’s 34-20 win over West Texas A&M, the Blue Gang, in usual fashion, gave up a touchdown on the opponent’s opening drive before making the proper adjustments, and shutting down the Buffalo offense.
Is this a concern going forward? Absolutely not. David Bailiff has said in the past, and we here at The Wire have observed first hand, the first drive by the opposing offense is often the most difficult to contain. The speed and precision of the opponent cannot be duplicated in practice by the Lions scout team. Much to the credit of Xavier Adibi and his staff, they are able to communicate with their charges effectively, and are quick to plug the holes. A perfect example of this last week, was when the West Texas offense was able to move the ball with quick, short passes, taking advantage of the zone defense the Lions were employing, as well as negating the pass rush. A quick change to more of a man to man defense, a few stunts and games up front, and senior Felipe Chambers was off to the races with a pick six.
Senior linebacker Terrell Collins led the Blue Gang with 13 tackles, 6 of which were solos, along with 2 tackles for loss, and 1 1/2 sacks. Red shirt senior Jaylon Edwards-Cooper, and red shirt junior Dominique Ramsey each had an interception, as the Lions stopped two fourth down attempts in the fourth quarter to preserve the win. Now, on to this week.
UP FRONT/TALE OF THE TAPE-
Falcons Offensive Line-6’2″ 294 lbs.
Lions Front Six(D Line and Linebackers)-6’0″ 259 lbs.
The Falcons are a big and physical offensive line, opening running lanes at almost a 170 yard per game clip. They are led up front by junior tackle Ryan Wilson, 6’5″ 310 lbs., and senior tackle Hunter Bowers, also 6’5″ 310 lbs. They have a good mixture of youth and experience, and will give the Blue Gang a challenge.
The Lions are led up front by the aforementioned Collins, as well as red shirt junior defensive end Elijah Earls, 6’0″ 240 lbs., who has developed into a real pass rushing threat, with 3 1/2 sacks, and 7 1/2 tackles for loss. They are supplemented up front by a rotation containing, among others, sophomore defensive end Ronathon Elmore, 6’5″ 255 lbs., senior defensive tackles Chris Williams, 6’1″ 285 lbs., and the ever present Pierre Leonard, 5’10” 300 lbs., as well as senior linebacker Neema Behbahani, 6’1″ 230 lbs., enables the Blue Gang to keep fresh bodies in the game.
MOVERS AND SHAKERS/THE BACK LINE-The Falcons have had a very balanced attack so far, led by a trio of running backs, Senior Davion Sutton, 6’0″ 215 lbs., freshman Gabe Nelson, 5’11” 190 lbs., and senior Marquis Simmons, 5’9″ 200 lbs. Sutton has 76 carries for 380 yards, with 2 touchdowns, and a long of 39 yards, while Nelson has 59 carries for 318 yards, 6 touchdowns, and a long of 45 yards, while Simmons has 69 carries for 321 yards, 3 touchdowns, and a long of 31 yards.
The Falcons have had a revolving door at quarterback this season, but at this time junior Clayton Roberts has stepped under center. Roberts has good size at 6’3″ 210 lbs. He is 39-79 for 450 yards, with 4 interceptions, a pair of touchdowns, and a long of 47 yards.
On the other end of those passes is 5’11” 196 lb. senior Kyle McBride. McBride has 42 catches for 564 yards, 4 touchdowns, and a long of 47 yards. Sophomore Kobe Robinson has 28 catches for 335 yards, 4 touchdowns, and a big play of 80 yards. 5’8″ 170 lb. freshman Caleb Forrest has 23 grabs for 294 yards, with a long of 66 yards.
The Lions defensive backs, while still missing Alex Shillow due to a hand injury, are still doing a great job controlling the opposing passing game. Red shirt junior Dominque Ramsey leads the Lions with 3 interceptions, 36 tackles(25 solo). Jaylon Edwards-Cooper has been very active, with 39 tackles(27 solo), 2 1/2 tackles for loss, and 1 1/2 sacks. Red shirt junior Kader Kohou, 5’11” 190 lbs., and senior LA Dawson, 6’0″ 180 lbs., are a pair of corners that can put the clamps on any receiver.
VERY SPECIAL, INDEED-Sophomore Sergio Landeros handles the punting duties for the Falcons, and has 52 punts for a solid 42.0 yard average, with a long of 78 yards, He also has had one kick blocked. Freshman Hayden Decossas is 6-11 on field goal attempts, with a long of 42 yards.
The Lion return game continues to be led by arguably the best returner in Division 2, Dominique Ramsey. Ramsey has 14 punt returns for a 14.9 yard average, with 1 touchdown and a long of 55 yards. He also has 11 kickoff returns for a eye popping 37.5 yard per game average, with 1 touchdown, and a long of 91 yards. Teams often refuse to kick the ball deep to avoid a big return.
BY THE NUMBERS-
WHAT’S GOING DOWN/THE VERDICT-While the Falcons are posting some respectable numbers, they have yet to settle on a quarterback, and are extremely turnover prone. Their defense is shaky, at best, surrendering 411 yards per game, 172 of which come on the ground. The plays directly into the hands of the Lions.
While a 3-6 record isn’t earth shattering, the Falcons still pose a dangerous threat. The Lions struggled mightily with Permian last season, escaping Ratliff Stadium with a narrow victory. They would like nothing better than to ruin the Lions playoff dreams with an upset.
The season has come down to two games, Win both, and a return to the Division 2 playoffs is all but assured. The Lions, though, cannot afford to look past this week. This is the biggest game of the year, the final home game, one they must win.
Until the next one.
See You At The Hawk.