Greetings, Lion fans, and in this week’s edition of the Notebook, the Lions head northwest to the Texas Panhandle to do battle with a familiar foe, the West Texas A&M Buffaloes. While the Lions have been dominant recently in the series, every game has always been a battle, and in the last round in the Lone Star Conference, this match up looks to be no different.
The Buffs while not having any eye popping numbers, are very balanced and are more than capable of breaking the big play. Fifth year head coach Hunter Hughes will certainly have his team ready, and would enjoy nothing more than to hang a loss on the Lions as a parting gift.
The Blue Gang comes into this game on a roll defensively. Despite one loss, in the past two weeks, the Lions have held their opponents under 200 yards total offense in each game, which in these days of wide open passing games, is unheard of. They’ll certainly need to be at their best this week to stop the Buffs.
Let’s take a closer look:
BY THE NUMBERS:
Points- 38.8 ppg
Pass- 209.8 ypg
Total- 412.7 ypg
Turnovers- 8 (+2)
Blue Gang Defense:
Points- 15.4 ppg
Pass- 136.4 ypg
Total- 226.0 ypg
Turnovers- 14 (+3)
UP FRONT/TALE OF THE TAPE:
Buffalo Offensive Line: 6’3″ 300 lbs.
Blue Gang Front Six: 6’1″ 262 lbs.
The WT offensive line is young, but massive and quick. Their technique and footwork is very good, and they have only given up six quarterback sacks on the year.
The Lion defensive line have been absolute terrors recently. with 10 first half sacks in the win over Western New Mexico. Senior defensive end Elijah Earls (6’0″ 240 lbs.) leads the team with six, and also has 31 tackles . Sophomore linebacker Chandler Noble leads the team in tackles with 33 (8 solo). Redshirt senior defensive back Dominique Ramsey also has 33 tackles (19 solo). Redshirt senior linebacker Xavier Morris is close behind with 32 tackles (9 solo). The key again for the front 6 is being able to generate pressure on the passer.
MOVERS AND SHAKERS/THE BACK LINE:
Buffalo Movers and Shakers: 6’1″ 195 lbs.
Lion Back Line: 5’10’ 186 lbs.
The Buffs are led in passing by junior Nick Gerber (6’1″ 185 lbs.), who has thrown for 1,464 yards on 98-172 passing, with 6 picks. Gerber has thrown for 10 touchdowns, with a long of 82 yards. Sophomore Kahlil Harris (6’2 200 lbs.) is a running back with good size and speed, and leads the Buffs with 624 yards on 97 carries, 5 touchdowns and a long of 75 yards. Junior wide receiver Noah Bogdarus (6’1″ 185 lbs.) leads the pass catchers with 26 receptions for 442 yards, 2 touchdowns, and a long 82 yards. Freshman Tyrie Tipton (5’11” 160 lbs.) has 18 catches for 308 yards, 1 touchdown, and a long of 65 yards. Again, not eye popping numbers, but very explosive.
The Lion back line still features the usual suspects, led by Dominique Ramsey, will surely be tested by the balance and speed of the Buffaloes offense.
VERY SPECIAL, INDEED- Sophomore Aaron Coash (5’7″ 200 lbs.) is the WT punter and averages a stout 41.6 yards on 10 punts, with a long of 63 yards. Cage Urias is the Buffalo kicker, and while accurate (6-8 FG), doesn’t have a lot of range, with a long of 39 yards.
The Lion return game exploded last week, with Dominque Ramsey returning one punt for a 62 yard touchdown, and had another called back later in the game due to a penalty. He averages 18.4 yards per return. He also has 8 kickoff returns for a 25.5 yard average, with a long of 44 yards.
THE LIONS WIN THIS MATCHUP IF:
UNDER PRESSURE- If the Lion defensive front, whether by straight pressure, of a combination of blitz packages are able to generate an effective rush on Nick Gerber, they will be in for a very good night.
KEEP ON ROLLIN’- Again, the Lions must win out in order to have any shot at the Division II playoffs. The Blue Gang continues their stellar play.. The offense remains balanced, and doesn’t turn the ball over.
THIRD DOWN- The Lions must absolutely control third down situations. In their three losses this season, either failing to convert offensively, or getting off the field defensively has been the main problem.
ESTABLISH EARLY DOMINANCE- Take what is sure to be a raucous WT crowd out of the game early, and keep the hammer down. Do not allow the Buffaloes to hang around.
EYES ON THE PRIZE/ONE AT A TIME-To quote the late Dennis Hopper in the 80’s classic movie Hoosiers…
“Boys, don’t get caught watchin’ the paint dry.”
Translated: Don’t get caught scoreboard watching or looking ahead. Win one play at a time. The rest will take care of itself.
See You Saturday.