(Note: Before we begin the Pre Snap Read this week, I’d like to mention something. It was brought to my attention that there were some occurrences during the Tennesse Tech game that I was not aware of that affected the offensive play calling and special teams. If I had known, I possibly would not have been quite so critical. I work with the information available to me, and what I see on the field. I firmly stand behind every word I’ve written here, but when I become aware of a mistake, I own up to and correct it. -Russell)
Greetings, Lion fans, and in this week’s edition of the Pre Snap Read, we’ll break down the matchup that the Lions should dominate against the North American University Stallions, and independent Division 3 school. The Lions, a hard fought 1-2 coming into this week’s matchup, could just as easily be undefeated at this point. Let’s take a quick review of a hard-fought game with the Sam Houston State Bearkats.
A LOOK BACK: The buzz around the Sam Houston game was not if the Lions would win or lose but lose by how much. Brian and I here at The Wire, however, held out hope that the Lions could and would make a fight of it. And with 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter, was it ever a fight. One that quieted Bowers Stadium in Huntsville. To borrow a line from Duke Evers, Apollo Creed’s trainer at the beginning of the fight in the Oscar winning movie, Rocky
“ He doesn’t know it’s a show. He thinks it’s a damned fight!”
Despite the offensive struggles due to playing a converted tight end at quarterback, and a limited game plan, after an interception return, the Lions trailed by only 10-7. The final score of 27-17 was much closer than indicated. The Bearkat offense moved well between the 20-yard lines, but once inside the Lion 20 Blue Gang effectively shut the door. The offense, with some creative formations and play calling by Billy Reibock, finally gained some momentum, and after a Spencer Long one yard run with under a minute left, the Lions closed the gap to 10 points, and were still firing away as the game ended. It was by far the best team effort of the David Bailiff era and proved that the Lions belong at the Division 1 FCS level.
BY THE NUMBERS:
Points: 31.3 ppg
Rush: 125.7 ypg
Pass: 221.3 ypg
Total: 347.0 ypg
Points: 68.0 ppg
Rush: 265.0 ypg
Pass: 290.5 ypg
Total: 555.5 ypg
The Stallions, much like Lincoln, are in the beginning stages of building a program at the independent Division 3 level. Their first two games, a 60-0 shutout at A&M-Kingsville, and a 76-3 shellacking at Arkansas- Pine Bluff, give indication that North American is in for a long season.
UP FRONT/TALE OF THE TAPE:
Lion Offensive Line: 6’3″ 293 lbs.
Stallion Defensive Line: No information available
As of this writing, we have been unable to find any detailed information on the North American roster. The Lion offensive line has performed admirably so far, despite stating two true freshmen and a sophomore. Seniors Rehoboth Chibesa (6’3″ 309 lbs.) and Solomon Nduwke (6’3″ 318 lbs.) anchor this group that , once game adjustments were made, were able to move the ball against a tough Sam Houston defense .
MOVERS AND SHAKERS/THE BACK LINE:
Lion Movers and Shakers: 5’11” 194 lbs.
Stallion Back Line: No Information available
The Stallions are led in tackles by Brock LeBlanc with 12 (7 solo), Braden Hay with 11 (5 solo), and Chase Burtenshaw with 11 (2 solo).
The Lions are led in passing by sophomore Eric Rodriguez (5’10” 195 lbs.) 26-38-1 for 438 yards, 7 touchdowns, with a long of 96 yards. As of this writing, it will be another game time decision on his availability. If Rodriguez is unable, junior Zadock Dinkleman (6’3″ 243 lbs.) should get the nod at quarterback. Dinkleman was solid despite having a shortened week to prepare.
Rodriguez also leads the Lions in rushing, with 142 yards on 22 attempts. Do-it-all junior Spencer Long (5’11” 196 lbs.) has 99 yards on 13 attempts, 3 touchdowns, and a long of 69 yards. Long is just one of those special players that doesn’t show any outward signs of impressive talent, but always seems to be involved when there’s a play to be made, whether it be on special teams, kick coverage, at receiver, or running back.
The Lion receivers are led by budding sophomore superstar Andrew Armstrong (6’6″ 189 lbs.), who has 16 catches for 333 yards 4 touchdowns, and a long of 96 yards. The Bearkat defense had few answers for Armstrong last week. Senior B.J. Busbee (5’7″ 149 lbs.) has begun to assert himself, with 8 receptions for 99 yards, 2 touchdowns, and a long of 22 yards. Sophomore Jaden Proctor (5’8″ 155 lbs.) isn’t far behind with 7 receptions for 86 yards, a touchdown, and a long of 27 yards.
VERY SPECIAL, INDEED: What else can be said about sophomore Mitchell McGarry? If you only notice the statistics, 12 punts for a 34.5-yard average, with a long of 47 may not seem very impressive. The “Thunder from Down Under” has been an invaluable tool in getting the Lion offense out of trouble when pinned deep in their own territory, and in flipping field position. After a shaky 2021 start in the opener against Colorado State-Pueblo, McGarry has come into his own.
No less can be said about Emmanuel Adagbon. The junior from Mesquite Horn, who has bided his time behind one of the truly great Lion kickers in Jake Viquez, has taken over the place-kicking duties without missing a beat. Adagbon is a perfect 4 of 4 on field goal attempts, with a long of 27 yards with an apparent range of up to 50 yards. The only misses extra point was due to a bad snap. While not an eye-popping stat line, Adagbon has been accurate every time that he’s been called on.
Joshua Neal has one punt return of four yards for the Stallions, and Derroddick Hadnot has 8 kick returns for 89 yards while Alleion Hogan has 8 kick returns for 144 yards. Both have a long return of 25 yards.
THE LIONS WIN THIS MATCHUP IF: To borrow a quote from head coach David Bailiff, “There are some teams that you just know you’re better than.” Well, that is the case this week. Much like the opener against Lincoln, the North American Stallions come in with little to lose, and a desire, like the Lions last week, to pull off what would seem to be an improbable upset. Despite the obvious advantages, the Lions will need the best effort in order to get the win.
Next week the Lions have a week off to get prepared for a tough Southland Conference schedule. This week, though, it’s time to take care of business.
See You Saturday at The Hawk.