Greetings, Lion fans, and Brian and I wish that there were more to talk about., like a final regular season tune up, and getting ready for a playoff berth. Sadly, though, after the debacle in San Angelo last Saturday, all that’s left is a final regular season face off against an improving Eastern New Mexico Greyhound team, in the hopes of finishing 7-4, and a possible Heart of Texas Bowl berth in early December. So, let’s dive right in.
BY THE NUMBERS-
Points- 30.0 ppg
Rush- 163.3 ypg
Pass- 161.4 ypg
Total- 324.7 ypg
Turnovers- 16 (+7)
Points- 38.5 ppg
Rush- 138.3 ypg
Total- 373.9 ypg
The Greyhound defense is very young and inexperienced, starting one senior, one redshirt junior, the rest being freshman or sophomores. Add to that new defensive coaches and a system, and the results are to be expected. Eastern’s defense has suffered from a lot of turnovers from their offense, leaving them with a short field to defend.
The Lion offense continues to struggle. The same problems continue to surface. The general lack of adjustments to whatever the game plan might be. The inability to attack the whole field. Lion tight ends, who ordinarily would be prime candidates for attacking the seams or middle of the field of a defense, have collectively caught 4 passes for a grand total of 17 yards. That’s not a misprint, it’s a fact. The offensive line failing to adjust to pick up whatever blitz or pressure packages they might face. The insistence on establishing the running game, despite the defense overloading the line of scrimmage.
So how can the Lions remedy this? That remains to be seen.
UP FRONT/TALE OF THE TAPE-
Lion Offensive Line- 6’4″ 308 lbs.
Greyhound Front Six- 6’1″ 250 lbs.
Eastern New Mexico has good size and strength up front, but again, are very young. They are led in tackles by freshman linebacker Beau Burns (6’2″ 210 lbs.) with 50 tackles (33 solo). He is followed by redshirt sophomore Cameron Pitcher (6’2″ 210 lbs.) with 48 tackles (32 solo). Sophomore defensive lineman Mazin Richards (6’2″ 230 lbs.) leads the Greyhounds with 8 1/2 sacks.
The senior laden offensive line of the Lions, led by Christian Hernandez, Richard West, Travis Dafft, and Amon Simon, will most certainly be tested by a young and active Eastern defensive group.
MOVERS AND SHAKERS/THE BACK LINE-
Lion Movers and Shakers-6’1″ 212 lbs.
Greyhound Back Line- 5’11” 184 lbs.
The Lions are led in rushing by redshirt senior Antonio Lealiiee (5’11” 210 lbs.), who has 405 yards on 70 carries, with a touchdown and a long of 73 yards. He is closely followed by fellow redshirt senior Carandale Hale (5’11” 190 lbs.) who has 403 yards on 73 carries, three touchdowns, and a long of 28 yards.
Redshirt junior quarterback Miklo Smalls is 72-120 for an average of 167.4 yards per game, with 5 touchdowns, 6 interceptions, and a long of 74 yards.
Senior Chance Cooper (6’3″ 200 lbs.)despite missing last week due to an injury, continues to lead the team in receptions, with 29 catches for 374 yards, Redshirt junior Matt Childers (6’4″ 180 lbs.) has 317 yards on 28 catches, a pair of touchdowns, and a long of 44 yards. Redshirt junior Andrew Armstrong has only gotten better as the season has gone along, with 15 catches for 258 yards, 3 touchdowns, and a long of 74 yards.
VERY SPECIAL, INDEED-Senior wide receiver Justin Manyweather, a former running back in the Greyhounds Flexbone days, leads Eastern in both punt and kickoff returns, and has been very, very good. He has 9 punt returns for a 14.4 yard average, with a long of 28 yards. He also has 8 kickoff returns for an average of 32.1 yards, with a touchdown, and a long of 94 yards.
Redshirt freshman punter Mitchell McGarry has been a bright spot this season, averaging 37.8 yards on 25 punts, with a long of 61 yards. He has done a great job in changing field position in favor of the Lion defense..
Redshirt senior Jake Viquez, is 16-24 on field goals, with a long of 52 yards. Despite a miss last week and getting another field goal blocked, he was still able to connect on a 29 yard field goal late to help the Lions avoid the shut out.
THE LIONS WIN THIS MATCHUP IF-
PRIDE-That’s realistically what the Lions have to play for., although they are still mathematically alive for a share of the Lone Star Conference title, provided both Angelo State and Midwestern lose this weekend. Eastern New Mexico, despite a 4-6 overall record, are a far better football team than their record would indicate. They are young, hungry, and would like nothing better than to sent the Lions on their way to Division 1 with a loss.
ADJUSTMENTS-Can, or will the offensive staff adjust to whatever the Eastern defense throws at them? If they are able to, then they could have a very good day. If they don’t, then it will be a second straight loss, and an almost unimaginable third home loss at The Hawk.
WHICH TEAM SHOWS UP? – That is the biggest question. Which Lion team shows up. The one that came out guns blazing, and sent a message to Western New Mexico? The one that shut down, and then hammered West Texas A&M? Or the one that sleepwalked through the Saginaw Valley game, and just wasn’t ready to play against Angelo State? We shall see.
See You At The Hawk.