Greetings, Lion fans, in this week’s edition of the Notebook, we’ll take a look at one of the real up and coming teams in the Lone Star Conference, the UT Permian Basin Falcons. Sixth year head coach Justin Carrigan is truly one of the bright young coaches in the state, and he brings his Falcons to Commerce with a 5-2 record, and 3-1 in conference, with big wins over West Texas A&M and Eastern New Mexico. The Falcons are a very balanced team that can hurt a defense through the air or with the run game.
The Lions come into this game fighting for the playoff existence, winners of two straight, with a record of 5-3, and a conference record of 3-1. Brian will have more of regional rankings, playoff positioning, and possible scenarios. For now, we’ll focus on this one coming up Saturday afternoon.
BY THE NUMBERS:
Blue Gang Defense:
The Falcons are almost perfectly balanced between run/pass. They can be explosive at times (42 points in a win over WTAMU), but they do have a problem with the turnover-8 fumbles lost and 7 pass interceptions. It is of paramount importance for the Lions to be able to generate a pass rush by any means necessary, disguise and change pass coverages, and slow the Falcons down.
And the Blue Gang defense is certainly capable of it. As of last Saturday, the Blue Gang is #2 in total defense, #4 in pass defense, #7 in scoring defense,#11 in quarterback sacks, and #16 in rushing defense. This current group of Lion defenders are playing some of the best defensive football fans of the blue and gold have ever seen. They’re going to need that kind of effort once more.
UP FRONT/TALE OF THE TAPE:
Falcon Offensive Line: 6’3″ 306 lbs.
Blue Gang Front 6: 6’1″ 262 lbs.
The Falcons are big, quick, and have a good blend of youth and experience. They are led by redshirt sophomore Matt Groeschel (6’6″ 330 lbs.) and senior Ryan Wilson (6’5″ 310 lbs.). They do a good job of protecting the passer. allowing just 1.5 sacks per game, which is not a lot, given the number of pass attempts, and four and five wide receiver formations.
The Lion front six is certainly up for the challenge. Sophomore linebacker Michael Noble (6’1″ 230 lbs..) leads the unit in tackles with 33 (8 solo) , and a trio of defensive linemen are fighting for the team lead in quarterback sacks. Redshirt senior defensive end Elijah Earls (6’0″ 240 lbs.) leads with 6 , and is closely followed by junior defensive tackle Anthony Hays (6’5″ 260 lbs.) with 5. Another junior defensive tackle, Justice Williams (6’6″ 260 lbs.) has 4. The defensive line has done yeoman’s work in freeing the linebackers, and WHIP defender free to roam and make plays.
MOVERS AND SHAKERS/THE BACK LINE:
Falcon Movers and Shakers: 6’0″ 180 lbs.
Blue Gang Back Line: 5’10” 186 lbs.
The Falcon offense is directed by redshirt junior quarterback Clayton Roberts (6’3″ 210 lbs.) who is 102-190-7 for an average of 186.6 yards per game, 15 touchdowns, and a long of 62 yards. The rushing attack is led by freshman Jayvon Davis (5’5″ 160 lbs.) who has 472 yards on 82 carries, 5 touchdowns, and a long of 28 yards. Redshirt junior Nathan Tilford (6’2″ 190 lbs.) is a big, fast back who has 425 yards on 84 carries, with 2 touchdowns, and a long of 36 yards. Junior M.J. Link leads the receiving corps with 516 yards on 30 receptions, 8 touchdowns, and a long of 62 yards. Junior Kobe Robinson (5’7″ 185 lbs.) has 344 yards on 29 catches, a touchdown, and a long of 58 yards.
Redshirt senior defensive back Dominique Ramsey leads the defense with 41 tackles(24 solo). Along with the usual suspects….Shillow, Ellis, Williams, and Kohou, their tight coverage, paired with a great pass rush, has made for a long day for most offenses.
VERY SPECIAL, INDEED-Freshman Carson Roberts (6’1″ 195 lbs.) averages a solid 40.8 yards on 27 punts, with a long of 63 yards, and has had one punt blocked. Roberts is also 5 of 6 on field goals, with long of 40 yards, and has had one kick blocked.
What else can be said about Lions return specialist Dominique Ramsey? Despite teams doing just about everything possible to avoid him touching the ball, Ramsey has managed 23.2 yards on 9 kickoff returns, with a long of 44 yards. He has 20 punt returns for a 16.6 yard average, with a long of 62 yards, and a touchdown. Ramsey has had another punt return for touchdown called back by a penalty. He is a threat to score every time he gets his hands on the ball.
THE LIONS WIN THIS MATCHUP IF:
KEEP ON ROLLIN’: The stellar defensive play of the last four games. And with the exception of two top offenses in West Florida and Midwestern State, all year. At a school with a strong and proud tradition of defensive football, the Blue Gang is at the top of their game.
EYES ON THE PRIZE: Again, Brian will have more on possible playoff scenarios, and what needs to happen. The focus for the Lions , though, has to be on Saturday. If the Lions do not win out, then any playoff hopes are rendered moot.
UNDER PRESSURE: The pass rush, especially the last five weeks, has been among the best in the country. Defensive coordinator Xavier Adibi and his staff will need do design and execute every possible type of pressure possible. A great pass rush makes a strong defensive backfield look even better.
See You at The Hawk.