Greetings, Lion fans, and in what amounts to Round Four of the playoffs for Commerce, we take a look at the matchup with the offense of Angelo State. Games bigger than this one don’t come around very often, and the Lions will be fighting for their playoff lives. As Brian discussed earlier, there are some things that have to fall their way, but not as many as one would think. The main objective for David Bailiff and crew, is to win out. Win out, and the rest takes care of itself. That begins this Saturday in San Angelo. Let’s take a look.
BY THE NUMBERS:
Points- 35.5 ppg
Pass- 219.6 ypg
Total- 446.3 ypg
Turnovers- 9 (+9)
Blue Gang Defense:
Points- 12.3 ppg
Pass- 130.3 ypg
Total- 220.2 ypg
Turnovers- 23 (+9)
The Rams have become much more run oriented in 2021, averaging almost 227 yards per games. They have a huge offensive line that likes to wear down opposing defenses down, then allowing the quarterback to exploit defenses through the air. They will definitely have their hands full this week.
Ladies and gentlemen, the only way to describe the level of defense the Lions have been playing all season, but especially the last six weeks, is OUTSTANDING. The last offensive touchdown allowed by the Blue Gang was at the 7:08 mark of the first quarter of the Saginaw Valley game, and that was after a short punt into the wind. Since then, other than an overtime score in that same game, nothing. That’s not an exaggeration. Not one single offensive score. Currently, the Lions are #2 in total defense, #4 in scoring defense, #5 in pass defense, tied for 5th in quarterback sacks, and #12 in rushing defense. They will certainly need another supreme effort this week.
UP FRONT/TALE OF THE TAPE:
Rams Offensive Line: 6’3″ 297 lbs.
Blue Gang Front 6: 6’1″ 262 lbs.
The Rams have an offensive line that has a great blend of size, strength, and experience. Senior Braxton Webb (6’5″ 310 lbs.) anchors the Ram front, along with sophomore Patrick Willis (6’4″ 347 lbs.) . Junior Jacob Neal (6’5″ 301 lbs.), Senior Alfredo Hernandez (6’1″ 265 lbs.) and redshirt freshman Jacob Long (6’3″ 322 lbs.) fill out the rest of the line. They’ve done a great job of establishing the run this season.
Redshirt senior defensive end Elijah Earls leads the front six in tackles with 36 (18 solo), and 6 sacks. Junior defensive end Anthony Hayes is close behind 5 1/2 sacks, and redshirt sophomore Celestin Haba has 5. The interior of the defensive line has done a great job in jamming up the middle, tying up blockers, and allowing the linebackers and secondary to roam free to make plays. In what is probably more important that sacking the quarterback, the Lions front six have been able to get constant pressure on the passer, throwing off the timing and not allowing the quarterback to settle on a receiver.
MOVERS AND SHAKERS/THE BACK LINE:
Rams Movers and Shakers: 6’0″ 187 lbs.
Lion Back Line: 5’10” 186 lbs.
The Rams offense is directed by junior Zach Bronkhorst (6’3″ 208 lbs.) who is 107-193 , averaging just over 200 yards per game, with 10 touchdowns, and four interceptions, with a long of 69 yards. Most of his completions have gone to senior wide out Kellen Pachot (5’11” 195 lbs.), who has 608 yards on 35 catches, 4 touchdowns, and a long of 54 yards. Senior Noah Massey(6’4″ 230 lbs.) has 216 yards on 13 catches with one touchdown, and a long of 48 yards.
Sophomore Nathaniel Omayebu (5’1” 240 lbs.) leads the Rams rushers with 944 yards on 143 carries, with 7 touchdowns, and a long of 54 yards. Junior C.J. Odom (6’1″ 227 lbs.) is the other half of this big backfield, and had 545 yards on 92 carries, with 4 touchdowns, and a long of 46 yards.
Redshirt senior defensive back Alex Shillow, who was named LSC Defensive Player of the Week last week, was the star of the show, taking a pick six back 105 yards. Officially, the return is listed at 100 yards, but for Brian and I here at The Wire, it will remain 105 yards.
Dominique Ramsey leads the back line, and the defense as a whole, with 42 tackles (24 solo). Darrius Williams isn’t far behind with 36 tackles (17 solo). The Lion secondary has been very, very good in both run support and in pass coverage, ably assisted by an outstanding pass rush.
VERY SPECIAL, INDEED- Junior Cade Fuller has done a very good job of punting for the Rams, averaging 39.8 yards on 37 punts, with a long of 66 yards, and has had one punt blocked. Senior Asa Fuller is 8 of 18 on field goals, with a long of 39 yards, and has had four blocked. This is definitely an area for the Lions to exploit.
Dominique Ramsey has done it all for the Lions in the return game in 2021, averaging 15.7 yards on 27 punt returns, with one touchdown, and a long of 62 yards. He also averages 23.2 yards on 9 kickoff returns with a long of 44., despite every team kicking the ball our of bounds or away from Ramsey. He still is a threat to score every time he touches the ball.
THE LIONS WIN THIS MATCHUP IF-
SAME SONG, SLIGHTLY DIFFERENT VERSE- The Lions continue their stellar defensive play, with more of a focus on stopping the run. Omaebyu is a workhorse of a running back, and along with Odom, can cause real problems for defenses. This will be Job #1 for the Blue Gang.
FOCUS-The Super Region 4 playoff herd will most definitely be thinned this week, as Brian has pointed out. The Lions must continue to focus on the opponent in front of them.
NO MERCY-In this system that is the Division 2 playoffs, style points count. If the Lions are able to control the game, and get a lead, they must continue to keep the pressure on. They have no room for error.
See You Saturday.