Greetings, Lion fans, and in the Notebook this week, we’ll take a look at the matchup with the North American University Stallions out of Houston, Tx. First, though, we’ll take a look back at the best effort of the Blue Gang this year against Sam Houston State.
A LOOK BACK: You might ask…. how does a defense that gives up 347 total yards and 27 first downs is considered to have played at an elite level? Allow us to explain. Kyle Williams’s defense bent between the 20-yard lines, but did not break, and once the Bearkats neared the Lion 20-yard line, the applied the clamps, and shut down the Sam Houston offense. The only negatives were dropping into coverage, allowing the quarterback to break containment, and the neutral zone infractions that seemed to rear their ugly head at the most inopportune time. There were times when the Blue Gang just couldn’t get off the field on third down and allowed Sam Houston to take some advantages. To be in the game with a chance to win in the fourth quarter against a very good and perennial playoff team like the Bearkats, who themselves are in a transition to Conference USA at the FBS level is all that any of us as fans can ask for. The mistakes made defensively can and should be easily corrected. It should be noted that the 2022 Blue Gang starts five sophomores and two juniors. This is a young group that should only get better.
BY THE NUMBERS:
Points: 1.5 ppg
Rush: 136.0 ypg
Pass: 76.5 ypg
Total: 207.5 ypg
Points: 20.0 ppg
Rush: 175.3 ypg
Pass: 146.6 ypg
Total: 322.0 ypg
The Stallions are struggling offensively, as programs in the early stages of development often do. The rush defense numbers were up a bit after the Sam Houston game, but the Lions overall have been very, very good so far in the 2022 season.
UP FRONT/TALE OF THE TAPE:
Stallion Offensive Front: No Information Available
Blue Gang Front Six: 6’1″ 247 lbs.
Again, there is sparse background information on the North American roster. The Lions have been led up front by senior linebacker Dee Walker (6’2″ 224 lbs.) who has 22 tackles (11 solo). The defensive line, anchored by senior Celestin Haba (6’2″ 250 lbs.) whose interception return for a touchdown last week got the Lions back in the thick of things, as well as senior Ben Hutch (6’4″ 293 lbs.), and sophomore Clifford Funderburk (6’2″ 235 lbs.), have done an outstanding job of tying up blockers that allow Walker and senior linebacker Michael Noble (6’0″ 216 lbs.) to roam from sideline to sideline and make plays. Using a good mixture of blitzes and stunts, the front six were able to get good pressure on the passer, especially last week.
MOVERS AND SHAKERS/THE BACK LINE:
Stallion Movers and Shakers: No Information Available
Lion Back Line: 5’10” 174 lbs.
The Stallons are led in passing by quarterback Randall Moore, who is 23-54-6 , for an average of 74.0 yards per game, with a long of 14 yards. the rushing attack is led by Kierre Cazenave, with 21 carries for 157 yards, with a long of 17 yards. Running back Derrodick Hadnot has 122 yards on 29 carries, with a long of 15 yards.
The Stallion receivers are led by Terrion Collins with 7 catches for 48 yards, with a long of 12 yards. The aforementioned Kierre Cazenave has 5 catches for 20 yards, with a long of 9 yards.
The Lion back line is led by senior Darrius Williams (5’10” 189 lbs.), who has 26 tackles (20 solo), and junior Daryion Taylor (5’10” 185 lbs.), who has 21 tackles (11 solo). While not possessing great size, Taylor and Williams, along with sophomores Maxwell Epps (5’11” 189 lbs.), Jordan Polk (5’11” 177 lbs.) and Kendall Paul (5’8″ 157 lbs.), more that make up for it with great speed, quickness, and will deal some big-time hits. There were several “oohs” and “aahs” overheard in the press box in Huntsville last week. For such a young position group the back line is seeming to come together very quickly.
VERY SPECIAL, INDEED:
Mason Jenkins is the North American punter, with 4 punts for a 30.2-yard average, and a long of 36. Teland Bowers has been perfect on his only field goal attempt from 40 yards.
The Lion return game has just not had many opportunities, but the potential for a huge breakout is just under the surface. Senior J.T. Smith (6’0″ 178 lbs.) has 3 kick returns for a 26-yard average, with a long of 43 yards. Senior B.J. Busbee (5’7″ 149 lbs.) has 3 punt returns for a 7.33-yard average. Not much to be impressed with, but with the breakaway speed and quickness these two possess, it is only a matter of time before they break one.
THE LIONS WIN THIS MATCHUP IF: They Lions should win this game and win it comfortably. Much like the game against Lincoln, though, they should not overlook what could turn out to be a very scrappy group of Stallions that will surely arrive in Commerce ready to give their best effort.
Bottom Line- Lions need to strike first, strike fast, and not take their foot off of the gas. Do not let this team hang around, get players down the depth chart some game experience, and get ready for a tough Southland Conference schedule in two weeks.
See You Saturday at The Hawk.