Greetings, Lion fans, and in this week’s incarnation of the Pre Snap Read, we’ll take a look as the Lions undertake their final road trip of the 2022 season, headed east to Thibodaux, Louisiana, and a date with the Colonels of Nicholls State. The Lions are coming off of their most disappointing loss so far, a 41-14 shellacking at the hands of the Northwestern State Demons.
To be fair, the are some reasons the Lions find themselves where they are at this point in the season. They are in the middle of playing Division 1 FCS opponents fully stocked with 63 full scholarships, and the Lions are currently playing with around 50, according to Head Coach David Bailiff. The anticipated growing pains and attrition of players that had been anticipated are starting to show. Yes, the Lions are starting a lot of true freshmen and sophomores, and mistakes that young players tend to make are becoming evident. There are other issues, though, ugly ones, that have surfaced, especially last week, that bear mentioning.
Former Lion great Blake Cooper summed it up best in a post-game chat. “We found our match in both talent and trash talking.” How very true. The Lions were penalized an incredible 13 times for 140 yards. That’s not a misprint, you did read that right. 13 times for 140. How outrageous was that? The Lion offense totaled 147 passing yards for the game.
Every time the Lions would begin to build some momentum, there was yellow laundry on the field. Many of these penalties were not of the 5-yard pre snap variety. Two roughing the kicker penalties when the Lions had absolutely no chance to block the punt. A perfectly executed fake field goal that gave them a first down was called back by a holding penalty. An interception that was about to turn into defensive touchdown was called back due to a roughing the passer penalty. The further along the game went, the deeper the hole that the Lions dug for themselves. No matter what an intense David Bailiff said, it was to no avail. Bailiff has been a master at getting a team ready to play a big game, and to rally from a loss. In the post-game press conference, Bailiff said that his teams pride themselves on being the smartest, most hard-working team on the field. Instead, he said, “We played like a bunch of boneheads.” Believe me, fans, that quote is the PG version of what was overheard in the locker room.
Now, it’s a new week, with a new opponent, and a chance for the Lions to wash the bitter taste of defeat from their mouths as they travel to Cajun Country to face Nicholls. Let’s take a look.
Head Coach: Tim Rebowe, 8th season (44-35)
Points.: 31.1 ppg
Rush: 143.8 ypg
Pass: 229.8 ypg
Total: 373.7 ypg
Points: 37.5 ppg
Rush: 189.2 ypg
Pass: 266.2 ypg
Total 455.4 ypg
The Lions offense has managed only 21 points in the last 6 quarters of play. Despite all the struggles with penalties, the offensive are still very respectable. The Colonels, currently 2-7 on the year, have had their problems defensively, giving up almost 200 yards per game on the ground. If the Lions offensive line can hold up, there will be opportunities for them to have some success here.
UP FRONT/TALE OF THE TAPE:
Lion Offensive Line: 6’3″ 293 lbs.
Colonels Front 6: 6’1″ 260 lbs.
The Nicholls State defense is led by redshirt freshman Kylin White (6’0″ 230 lbs.), who has 59 tackles (22 solo). Junior defensive lineman Perry Ganci (6’2″ 260 lbs.) has 51 tackles (16 solo). The Colonels operate out of a base 4-2-5 set. They are very young up front, starting three sophomores, a redshirt freshman, a true freshman, and a junior. They have good size up front and cannot be overlooked.
Senior offensive lineman Rehoboth Chibesa (6’3″ 309 lbs.) was seen on a pair of crutches after the game last week, so it is unknown as of this writing as to his status. The offensive line has certainly had their share of struggles recently, but have held together, and are starting to establish themselves.
MOVERS AND SHAKERS/THE BACK LINE:
Lion Movers and Shakers: 5’11” 194 lbs.
Colonels Back Line: 6’2″ 184 lbs.
Nicholls State has some very good size in their back line, which is led by sophomore Tyler Morton (5’10” 160 lbs.), who has 55 tackles on the season (28 solo). He is joined by redshirt sophomore Eddie Markeyvrick (6’1″ 190 lbs.), senior James Tobin (6’0″ 180 lbs.,) an Austin Peay transfer, redshirt sophomore Keonte Williams (6’0″180 lbs.), and freshman Eli Ennis (6’2″ 205 lbs.)
The Lion offense continues to be led in both rushing and passing by sophomore Eric Rodriguez (5’10” 195 lbs.), who has 64 rushes for 297 yards, with a long of 27 yards, and has 109 completions on 168 attempts for 1, 451 yards, 15 touchdowns, and a long of 96 yards. Rodriguez has also thrown 5 interceptions. Junior Spencer Long (5’11” 195 lbs.) has 212 yards on 49 carries, 3 touchdowns, and a long of 69 yards.
Sophomore Andrew Armstrong continues to close in on the Lion record books in receiving, just one short of the all-time record of 14. Armstrong has 49 catches for 862 yards, 13 touchdowns, and a long of 96 yards. Sophomore Jaden Proctor (5’8″ 155 lbs.) has blossomed into a very good #2 receiver, with 29 catches for 297 yards, 2 touchdowns, and a long of 27 yards. Senior Kenedy Snell (5’7″ 184 lbs.) has 12 receptions for 127 yards, a touchdown, and a long of 69 yards.
VERY SPECIAL, INDEED:
Nicholls State is led in punt returns by redshirt sophomore Albert Marquese (5’7″ 160 lbs.), who has 9 returns for a 4.6-yard average, and a long of 24 yards. Redshirt freshman Jaylon Spears (5/10″ 200 lbs.) has 22 kickoff returns for a 23.1yard average, with a long of 46 yards.
The Lion kicking game just continues to get better. Sophomore Mitchell McGarry (6’3″ 225 lbs.) has 35 punts for a 35.5-yard average, with a long of 63 yards. He has become much more effective at pinning opponents inside their own 20-yard line.
Junior Emmanual Adagbon is almost machine like. He is 4 of 4 on field goal attempts, with a long of 49 yards, and is 32 of 34 on extra point attempts. Freshman Aiden Martin’s booming kickoffs have become a real weapon in giving opponents a long field to work with.
THE LIONS WIN THIS MATCHUP IF: The team that we all saw in the first seven games shows up. If they can cut out the silly penalties, maintain discipline and focus, they have a very good chance at winning this one. If the team that we’ve seen the past two weeks shows up, who knows? Yes, this is a very young and inexperienced team. However, we’re at the point in the season now where these youthful mistakes and errors should be going away. This is a team too talented and too good to look the way they have the past two weeks. They’re better than this. They can and will get better.
See You Saturday.