Greetings, Lion fans, and in this week’s Pre Snap Read, we’ll take a look at a familiar foe, the Buffaloes of West Texas A&M .WT comes into the game with a record of 4-3, 3-1 in the LSC, and fresh off of a 44-24 win over a suprisingly improved Eastern New Mexico Greyhound team. This is a rivalry that picked up steam with the ariival of Colby Carthel in Commerce. Carthel is gone, but the rivalry remains. In the last meeting, the Lions were in a tight battle until the fourth quarter, where two scores were the difference in a 34-20 win. This game certainly shaping up to be another tight one. Let’s dive right in…..
BY THE NUMBERS-
Points: 34.4 ppg
Rush: 176.6 ypg
Pass: 160.0 ypg
Total: 336.6 ypg
Points: 22.4 ppg
Rush: 116.9 ypg
Pass: 244.1 ypg
Total: 361.0 ypg
Turnovers: 10 (+2)
The Lion offense, with Miklo Smalls back at the helm, is beginning to round into shape. The running back by committee is keeping everyone fresh, and everyone gets a touch, either by run or pass, and Billy Riebock has thrown in a sprinkling of trickery, and added a small package to get the ball in playmaker’s hands such as redshirt senior Dominique Ramsey.
The WTAMU defense appears to be solid against the run, but there are issues in the secondary, and in total, allow almost 400 yards per game. If the offensive line is able to give Smalls some time, there should be some opportunities for the offense to have success through the air.
UP FRONT/TALE OF THE TAPE-
Lion Offensive Line: 6’4″ 308 lbs.
Buffalo Front 7: 6’1″ 207 lbs.
WT has opted for speed and quickness in their defensive front. This has the potential to create problems for the Lion offensive line if they’re not picking up their assignments correctly. If they are, they can drive the defensive line of WT, and open holes for the run game, causing WT to then take chances defensively that they wouldn’t like to .
The Lion offensive line has been solid and consistent all season, and there are no indications of any drop off in performance. They’re certainly going to have to be at the top of their game this week.
MOVERS AND SHAKERS/THE BACK LINE-
Lion Movers and Shakers: 6’1″ 212 lbs.
Buffalo Back Line: 5’10” 180 lbs.
The Buffs are led in tackles by freshman linebacker J.T. Cavendar (6’0″ 200 lbs.) with 62 total tackles (44 solo). He is followed by fellow a fellow linebacker, senior Eric Collins (6’3″ 200 lbs.), who has 39 tackles (28 solo), and freshman linebacker Cole Oster (6’1″ 215 lbs.), who has 37 tackles (9 solo). Defensive lineman Michael Smith (6’0″ 250 lbs., Fr.) has 22 tackles (9 solo), and leads the team with 3 1/2 sacks. Junior defensive back Tobias Harris (5’9″ 180 lbs.,) has three picks.
Miklo Smalls has been very productive in his return, going 63-107 passing for 417 yards, with three touchdowns, and four interceptions. He has a long completion of 74 yards.
Redshirt senior running back Antonio Lealiiee continues to lead the Lion rushing attack with 353 yards on 51 carries, with one touchdown, and a long of 73 yards. Senior Carandale Hale chips in263 yards on 43 carries with a pair of touchdowns and a long of 28 yards. Senior J.T. Smith leads the backs in touchdowns with 3, a long of 39 yards, and has 235 yards on 24 carries. Senior E.J. Thompson has 221 yards on 55 carries, two touchdowns , and a long of 15 yards.
Senior Chance Cooper, despite not playing last week, continues to lead the Lion receivers with 25 catches for 345 yards, four touchdowns, and a long of 65 yards. Redshirt junior Matt Childers has 17 catches for 221 yards with two touchdowns, and a long of 44 yards. The Lions continue their trademark of spreading the ball around to several different recievers.
VERY SPECIAL, INDEED- The Buffalo return game is led by Tobias Harris, who along with Dominque Ramsey, is considered to be the best returners in the LSC. And like Ramsey, Harris has suffered from teams that refuse to kick the ball in his direction . Harris has 7 returns for just over a five yard average, and a long of 12 yards, but is certainly a threat. Freshman Marshall Hesston (6’0″ 175 lbs.) leads in kickoff returns, with a 25.7 yard average on 13 returns, with a long of 55 yards.
Redshirt freshman punter Mitchell McGarry has really taken hold of the punter’s position, and made it his own. He now averaged 38.0 on 12 punts, with a long of 59. He has flipped field position in favor of the Lions on several occasions. Redshirt senior Jake Viquez continues his excellent work, going 11 for 14 on field goals with a long of 52 yards. .
THE LIONS WIN THIS MATCHUP IF-
PLUG THE LEAKS-The Buffaloes are small and very quick on defense, and they like to turn the opponent over. It will be key for the Lions offensive line to pickup the various pressure packages that are certain to come, and hold onto the ball.
EYES ON THE PRIZE-Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. And yes, Lion fans, there are still scenarios in which the Lions can return to the playoffs. That quest begins Saturday in Canyon. West Texas is a good, solid, football teams that always seems to give the Lions a battle, and this edition seems no different. There is no room for error, and the Lions cannot get caught scoreboard watching. Just focus on winning this game, and the rest will take care of itself.
KEEP ON ROLLIN’- The offense must continue to jell. Keep the balance, attack the whole field. and not be afraid to throw in a little trickery. To quote actor Will Patton’s Bill Yoast in Remember The Titans, “You have to give him something he’s not ready for.”
BE BOLD-To borrow a phrase from Brian, “Fortune favors the bold”. Take some shots downfield, especially early. Strike hard and fast, and don’t take the foot off the accelerator.
ONE AT AT TIME-One play at a time. Don’t get caught up in the situation, just one play at a time.
See You Saturday.