Greetings, Lion fans. In Week 9 of the 2020 Season Preview, we’ll take a closer look at the UT Permian Basin Falcons. Billy, Brian, and I all hope that you’re staying healthy and safe during these turbulent times.
At the Week 9 point, the Lions are in the home stretch. By now, team roles should have shaken out, and David Bailiff and crew will surely be adapting to injuries, players possibly not performing to potential, etc. The playoffs are on the horizon. It’s a time to “bear down” and finish the regular season strong in order to get a favorable playoff position.
So, let’s dive right in and break down the match up with our neighbors from Odessa.
2019 Season Record: 4-7 (6th LSC)
Biggest Win: vs. Texas A&M-Kingsville, 70-14
Biggest Loss: vs. Angelo State, 66-7
Returning Starters: 6 Offense, 4 Defense
Coach: Justin Carrigan, 4th year, 10-34
THE SKINNY: UT Permian Basin football is now in its fifth year as a Lone Star Conference member, and Head Coach Justin Carrigan returns for that fifth season. After three straight 2-9 seasons, the Falcons showed a slight improvement in 2019, going 4-7, and showing signs of a big play offense. Things are looking up in the Basin.
Points: 28.3 ppg
Rushing: 183.5 ypg
Passing: 197.5 ypg
Total 381.1 ypg
Rushing: RB Gabe Nelson (5’11” 190 lbs., Soph.) 59-318 yds. 6 TD Long 45
Passing: QB Clayton Roberts (6’3″ 210 lbs., RS-Jr.) 51-110-8 INT 592 yds. 5 TD Long 47
Receiving: WR Kobe Robinson (5’7″ 155 lbs., Jr.) 31-351 yds 4 TD Long 80
WR Jeremiah Cooley (6’3″ 180 lbs., Soph) 23-341 yds 3 TD Long 43
WR Caleb Forrest (5’8″ 170 lbs., Soph) 26-323 yds. Long 66
THE SKINNY: The Falcons lose their leading rushers from 2019, Davion Sutton and Marquis Simmons, along with quarterback Kameron Mathis. Leading receiver Kyle McBride also have graduated, so there are holes to fill.
A trio of young receivers look to fill that gap. Junior Kobe Robinson has great speed and big play making ability. Sophomore Jeremiah Cooley provides a big target. Sophomore running back Gabe Nelson takes over, averaging a stout 5 plus yards per carry , along with six touchdowns.
Red shirt junior Clayton Roberts takes over full time at the quarterback position after an up and down 2019. Roberts completed almost 50 % of his pass attempts, but did suffer from the interception bug, throwing eight picks in 110 attempts.
If the Falcons returning players are up to form, and Roberts solves the interception problem, they will present problems in the conference.
Points: 32.6 ppg
Rushing 169.0 ypg
Passing: 241.8 ypg
Total: 410.8 ypg
S Donta Stewart (5’10” 160 lbs., Soph.) 63 tackles (34 solo) 3 INT
DB D’Ondre Robinson (5’10” 190 lbs., Sr.) 52 tackles (34 solo)
OLB John O’Kelley (6’4″ 225 lbs., Jr.) 32 tackles (13 solo) 3.5 sacks
THE SKINNY: The Falcon defense showed a slight upward trend in 2019, but still have some work to do, as evidenced by an average of 410 total yards per game surrendered. When the leading tackler of a defense is a safety or corner, it’s a sure sign of a problem.
However, there are signs of great potential. Robinson is a ball hawk in the secondary with 3 picks. O’Kelley is a true threat from the outside linebacker spot with 3 and a half sacks. The Falcon defense has the ability to greatly improve in 2020 with more experience, and the holes are filled.
Punt: Sergio Landeras (6’2″ 195 lbs., Jr.) 60-42.7 yds., Long 78 2 blocked
Kick: Hayden Decossas (5’5″ 160 lbs., Soph.) 6-11 Long 30
Punt Return: Kobe Robinson 7-11.4 yds., Long 42
Kick Return: Caleb Forrest 17-17.5 yds., Long 42
Kobe Robinson 7-19.5 yds., Long 27
THE SKINNY: Landeras is a very good punter, averaging over 42 yards per punt, but did have 2 punts blocked. Hayden Decossas looks to improve on a hit and miss 2019. Robinson is the proverbial Swiss Army Knife for UT Permian Basin, with a solid 11.4 yard average on punt returns, and 19.5 on kick returns. Caleb Forrest was steady as well, with a 17.5 yard average per return. While the numbers are not eye popping, the Falcon special teams are a solid group.
THE LOW DOWN: In looking at the numbers and trends, this is a game the Lions should win, and win handily. The Falcons are replacing seven starters on defense, as well as their leading rusher, receiver, and passer. The Lions are coming into the 2020 season loaded, with lofty post season aspirations. They should win this one.
Although, as Peter Falk’s TV detective character, Columbo, once said, “There’s just one more thing.” Games aren’t played on paper, and numbers aren’t a predictor of certainty. Flash back to 2018, the Lions were highly ranked, and cruising toward the playoffs, then ran into a buzz saw in Odessa that saw a scrappy UT Permian Basin team battle them right down to the wire. The Lions were very fortunate to escape with a 20-17 victory. The Falcons are certain to give the Lions their best effort.
It’s almost time. Time to hunt.