Greetings, Lion fans, and in this week’s edition of the Notebook, we’ll take a closer look at the final opponent of the regular season, the Angelo State Rams.
The Blue Gang is coming into this week on a roll. In the past two weeks, they have produced a total of 8 turnovers, and outside of first drive adjustments, have prevented their opposition from establishing any kind of rhythm or consistency. Senior linebacker Terrell Collins, a 6’0″ 245 lb. senior, led the Lions with 5 total tackles, and 1 1/2 tackles for loss. Red shirt senior Jaylon Edwards-Cooper, 5’11” 175 lbs., and red shirt junior Kader Kohou, 5’11” 190 lbs., each picked off a pair of passes to thwart UT Permian Basin scoring threats. The majority of the yards allowed by the Lions was when backups were in the game on both teams, and the game was well in hand.
Now, on to this week’s Biggest Game of The Year….
UP FRONT/TALE OF THE TAPE-
Rams Offensive Line-6’4″ 300 lbs.
Lions Front Six(D Line and Linebackers)6’0″ 259 lbs.
The Rams boast a massive and well experienced offensive line, led by junior Dezmond Green, 6’7″ 330 lbs., and senior Blake Harrison, 6’4″ 305 lbs. They have a good mixture of youth and experience, and have equal ability in both run blocking and pass protection.
The Lions should return defensive end Ronathon Elmore, a 6’5″ 255 lb. sophomore, from injury this week. Red shirt freshman Mark Brown, a 6’3″ 225 lb. transfer from Texas Tech, filled in nicely, and old hands, Pierre Leonard, 5’10” 300 lbs., a senior, and fellow senior Chris Williams, 6’1″ 285 lbs., were their usual selves, jamming up the middle of the line, and not giving opponents much running room. Red shirt junior defensive end Elijah Earls, 6’0″ 240 lbs., had three stops and provided some much needed pressure on the quarterback.
MOVERS AND SHAKERS/THE BACK LINE- The Rams are led in rushing by a pair of running backs, senior Lloyd Howard, 5’7″ 177 lbs., and sophomore Daven Manning, 5’10” 230 lbs. Howard has 595 yards on 108 attempts, 5 touchdowns, and a long of 49 yards. Manning has been almost as productive, with 396 yards on 96 attempts, 6 touchdowns, and a long of 19 yards. They give the Rams a nice balance between power and speed.
Senior Payne Mullins, 6’2″ 210 lbs., and a senior, directs the Rams offense. He has 177 completions in 291 attempts, for a 235.7 yard per game average, 19 touchdowns, and 6 interceptions. He has good size and the ability to move around in the pocket and avoid the pass rush.
Senior Keke Chism, 6’4″ 210 lbs., is a big target, and leads the Rams in receiving, with 56 catches for 841 yards, 6 touchdowns, and a long of 74 yards. Senior Lawson Ayo, 6’1″ 195 lbs., is another receiver with a big size advantage, and has 483 yards on 28 catches, 5 touchdowns, and a long of 68 yards. Red shirt freshman Austin Landry, 5’11” 184 lbs., has 318 yards on 21 catches, with 4 touchdowns, and a long of 67 yards. This a explosive group of wide outs with good size that is going to be a big challenge to the Lion secondary.
A big question for the Lion back line is the health of red shirt junior Dominique Ramsey, 5’9″ 180 lbs., who has been a true triple threat for the Lions, combining a real ball hawking ability in the secondary, along with his kick and punt returns. It is unknown at this time if he is able to play.
On the bright side, red shirt junior safety Alex Shillow, 5’10” 185 lbs., returns from a hand injury this week just at the right time. He is sure to bolster a Lion back line that includes the aforementioned Jaylon Edwards-Cooper and Kader Kohou.
VERY SPECIAL, INDEED-Sophomore Jared Defelice is the Rams punter, who has a 37.8 yard average on 56 punts, with a long of 67. Senior Connor Flanigan is a very accurate kicker, good on 7 of 10 attempts, with a long of 42 yards.
If Ramsey is unavailable, Kader Kohou is a very good fill in. Kohou has 5 returns for a 26.0 yard average,with a long of 42. Sophomore Jemal Williams, who has done an outstanding job filling in at running back, also has had good experience returning kicks as well.
BY THE NUMBERS-
WHAT’S GOING DOWN/THE VERDICT-It all comes down to this. Win, and the Lions are assuredly in the playoffs again, That’s what matters here. Once a team gets there, anything can happen, as the Lions proved in 2017.
First things, first, however. The Rams are a very good scoring defense that likes to turn their opponent over, then use that big offensive line to bludgeon their way to pay dirt. It will be a great challenge for the Lions to overcome.
It is a challenge that the Lions are more than capable of overcoming, though. They’re getting some key players back healthy, and after the humiliation of being jumped in the rankings by an inferior Augustana team, are sure to bring a nasty attitude to LeGrand Stadium in San Angelo this Saturday.
It’s time to send a message, one loud and clear. The Lions are back on the hunt. They’re angry. They’re ready.
See You Saturday.