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In this week’s edition of the 2020 season preview, we’ll break down the Lions week five matchup with the Cougars of Azusa Pacific University, out of the Great Northwest Athletic Conference, located in Azusa, California. The Cougars last playoff appearance was in 2018, where they were demolished, 58-0, by an old Lion foe, Tarleton State.
Now, let’s break down the matchup:
2019 Record: 1-9 (Tied 4th in the GNAC)
Biggest Win: vs. Simon Fraser University, 38-12
Biggest Loss: vs. Colorado School of Mines, 49-27
Returning Starters: 5 Offense, 7 Defense
THE SKINNY- Rudy Carlton takes over as the new head coach for Azusa Pacific. A former quarterback for the Cougars, Carlton moves up from offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.
Points: 20.9 ppg
Rushing: 96.3 ypg
Passing: 243.8 ypg
Total: 339.3 ypg
Rushing: Gil’Scott Jackson (5’10” 200 lbs., Sr.)- 61-349 yds. Long 35
Anthony Catalano (5’9″ 170 lbs., Sr.) 38-267 2 TD Long 49
Dante Davis (5’10” 187 lbs., Sr.) 51-184 5 TD Long 29
Passing: Catalano 52-106-2 INT 644 yds. 4 TD Long 32
Receiving: Jasiah Richard-Lewis (6’0″ 170 lbs., RS-Soph.) 34-531 3 TD Long 79
Brandon Jackson (6’4″ 210 lbs., Sr.) 33-424 3 TD Long 34
THE SKINNY-Catalano takes over the controls of the APU offense, and is not without some firepower. Gil’Scott Jackson returns at running back, and while not particularly explosive, is a serviceable and hard nosed runner. Brandon Jackson is a tall, rangy wide out that provides a big target, and Richard-Lewis is a big play threat. They are not to be overlooked.
Points: 32.6 ppg
Rushing: 239.9 ypg
Passing: 241.6 ypg
Total: 478.8 ypg
DB Siaki Alalu (6’1″ 185 lbs., Grad.) 63 tackles (28 solo)
LB Ben Sukut (6’2″ 215 lbs., Sr.) 63 tackles (27 solo)
LB Lucas Oligati (6’3″ 220 lbs., Sr.) 54 tackles (23 solo)
THE SKINNY-Simply put, the Cougars can’t stop anybody. Despite returning 7 starters, APU surrendered an average of over 470 yards per game in 2019, and were equally weak in both run and pass defense. Alalu, Sukut, and Oligati return to lead a unit that needs a lot of work.
Punting: Jake Geradi (6’4″ 240 lbs., Sr.) 27-39.8 yds. Long 67
Kicking: Ramzee Jaridly (6’1″ 175 lbs., Soph.) 9-16 Long 45 3 blocked
Punt Return: Adam Schwab (5’10” 160 lbs., RS-Jr.) 2-23.8 yds. Long 44
Richard-Lewis 4-7.0 yds. Long 16
Kick Returns: Davis 20-22.5 yds. Long 43
Richard-Lewis 2-18.5 yds. Long 23
THE SKINNY-Geradi is a very good punter, averaging almost 40 yards per punt, and has a big leg. Jaridly is a serviceable kicker, but has a tendency to give up the blocked kick. Schwab, while not having a lot of time, appears to be an explosive returner. Richard-Lewis and Davis are solid kick returners.
THE LOW DOWN-Despite coming off of a 1-9 season, the Cougars are not to be overlooked. They have a capable offense, and if they are able to put a defense together, could make trouble for the Lions.
That being said, if APU gets into a scoring duel with the Lions, then Commerce wins this one easily. The Lions are much more balanced offensively, and the bulk of the Blue Gang returns. The key for the Lions will be to maintain focus on the trip west to the glitz and glamour of California, and take care of business.
It’s Time to Hunt.