The Pre Snap Read: Lion Offense vs. Golden Eagle Defense

Greetings, Lion fans, and after overcoming a slow start, the Lions got in the groove and defeated a much better than expected Lincoln Ca. team, 52-7. The offense, although starting out with a sputter, made some adjustments, the most notable of which was sophomore Eric Rodriguez taking over, and lighting a a spark under the offense. He almost immediately formed a connection with sophomore receiver Andrew Armstrong, who caught 3 balls for 134 yards, including a spectacular 96 yarder, and three touchdowns. Rodriguez completed passes to six different receivers, and five different backs handled the ball on rushing attempts. Offensive coordinator Billy Riebock’s playbook was wide open, and he was able to use the whole field. The biggest accomplishment, however, were the lack of pre snap and self-inflicted penalties. All in all, a very good opening week against a much better than anticipated opponent. Now, onto this week’s opponent, the Golden Eagles of Tennessee Tech.

Tech begins their 100th season of football in 2022, under their head coach Dewayne Alexander, who is 12-30 in what his now his fifth season. Tech is a member of the Ohio Valley Conference, with an enrollment just over 10,000 students located in Cookeville, Tennessee. Tech was defeated by the University of Kansas last week in Lawrence, 56-10.

BY THE NUMBERS:

Lion Offense:

Points- 52.0 ppg

Rush- 131. 0 ypg

Pass- 301.0 ypg

Total- 432.0 ypg

Turnovers- 3

Golden Eagle Defense:

Points- 56.0 ppg

Rush- 297.0 ypg

Pass- 205.0 ypg

Total- 502.0 ypg

Turnovers- 3

UP FRONT/TALE OF THE TAPE:

Lion Offense: 6’3″ 293 lbs.

Golden Eagle Front Six: 5’11” 241 lbs.

The Tennessee Tech defense is really undersized up front and rely on quickness and speed to contain their opponents. The Eagles like to blitz quite a bit out of a 4-2-5 set, and as a result, they can take advantage of if the offense can get past the initial rush. This will definitely be a step up in size and level of competition for the Lions, but one they can handle if they just play their game.

The Golden Eagles are led in tackling by senior linebacker Seth Carlisle (6’0″ 225 lbs.) who had five unassisted tackles last week against Kansas. He was closely followed by Graduate defensive back Josh Reliford (5’10” 200 lbs.) with 5 tackles (4 solo) and sophomore defensive lineman Daniel Rickert (6’1″ 255 lbs.) who also had 5 tackles (3 solo).

The Lions are very young up front, much younger than we first anticipated, starting two seniors, two freshmen, and a sophomore. Rehoboth Chibesa (6’3″ 309 lbs.) anchors the offensive front, along with fellow senior Solomon Ndukwe (6’3″ 318 lbs.). The offensive line was very sharp last week in keeping Rodriguez in a clean pocket and being able to open running lanes for the backs. However, this week is sure to see a step up in competition.

MOVERS AND SHAKERS/THE BACK LINE:

Lion Backs/Receivers: 5’11” 194 lbs.

Golden Eagle Back Line: 5’9″ 179 lbs.

The Golden Eagles seemed to have major problems in the secondary when going to a zone defense. Granted, they did play the Kansas Jayhawks of the Big 12 FBS, but with that being said, Kansas is at the bottom of the of the Big 12, and close to the bottom in all of FBS, the talent differential, especially among the first units, is not that different. There is some speed and quickness here, but there are opportunities for the Lions to take advantage of.

The Golden Eagles are led in the secondary by senior Jamaal Boyd (6’0″ 195 lbs,) and graduate Josh Reliford (5’10” 200 lbs.)

The Lions got a huge night from sophomore Andrew Armstrong (6’6″ 189 lbs.), in addition to big nights from sophomore Demarcus Hosey with four catches for 58 yards, and sophomore wideout Jaden Proctor, who had 3 catches for 53 yards.

Balance was the key for the Lion offense, as five different receivers had catches, and five different running backs carried the ball. It will certainly be a key indicator of success going forward for David Bailiff and is staff.

VERY SPECIAL, INDEED- The Lions had a great night when it came to special teams. Mitchell McGarry’s only punt carried for a very nice 47 yards and was touched down inside the five-yard line. Junior Emmanuel Adagbon, who has shown the patience of Job in biding his time behind legendary Lion kicker Jake Viquez, was perfect on all six of his extra point attempts, and solidly connected on his only field goal attempt of 21 yards. Transfer Aiden Martin consistently drove the ball into the end zone on his kickoffs.

Senior Metrius Fleming (6’0″ 178 lbs.) showed a good deal of speed and quickness on his only kick return last week, a 26 yarder. Kansas did not punt last week, and as such, Tennessee Tech did not have a punt return.

THE LIONS WIN THIS MATCHUP IF- The Golden Eagles are a definite step up in level of competition for the Lions, but not one that makes the Lions think, “uh oh.” Offensive line play will of utmost importance to the Lions success or failure this week. If they are able to keep Rodriguez upright, the receivers should be able to find open area in what appears to be a porous Golden Eagle secondary.

The same goes for the running game. Tech often plays 7 people in the box and bring some type of pressure 70% of the time. If the offensive line is able to adjust, and the backs get past the initial rush, good things are in store.

It gets real, real quick Lion fans. This is where it begins.

See You Saturday.

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