Greetings, Lion fans, and in this week’s edition of the Notebook, we’ll take a look at this week’s opponent, Nicholls State, and see if the Blue Gang will be able to recover from the beatings, they have endured the past two weeks from Incarnate Word and Northwestern State. In those two games, they were shredded for 76 points and 958 total yards. A combination of injuries, growing pains from youthful inexperience, and facing two of the best teams in the Southland Conference have certainly taken their toll. It is a new week, though, with another new opponent, and a chance to redeem themselves. There’s still a lot of football left to be played, and a lot to play for, namely, pride, a winning season, and doing something that few outside of Commerce, America, believed they could do. So, let’s get to it.
Points: 19.3 ppg
Rush: 150.3 ypg
Pass: 222.3 ypg
Total: 372.6 ypg
Blue Gang Defense:
Points: 20.5 ppg
Rush: 145.4 ypg
Pass: 160.8 ypg
Total: 306.5 ypg
Despite the struggles, the Lion defense is still 1st in Total Defense, 1st in Pass Defense, 2nd in Rush Defense, and 2nd in Scoring Defense, which goes to say just how good this group has been until very recently. They will certainly be tested by a Nicholls State offense, that while not particularly explosive, or puts up a lot of points, but does have some attention getting numbers.
UP FRONT/TALE OF THE TAPE:
Colonels Offensive Line: 6’3″ 280 lbs.
Blue Gang Front 6: 6’1″ 247 lbs.
The Nicholls State offensive line is led by a pair of seniors, Baylee Trusty (6’3″ 295 lbs.), a transfer from East Mississippi Community College, and Mikahil Hill (6’4″ 325 lbs.), a transfer from Memphis University. They are joined by sophomore Evan Roussel (6’2″ 290 lbs.), senior Mark Barthelemy (6’4″ 320 lbs.) and sophomore Reed Lambert (6’4″ 235 lbs.).
The Blue Gang was without senior lineman Celestin Haba (6’2″ 250 lbs.) last week, and it is unknown at this time what his playing status is. Senior Justice Williams (6’4″ 231 lbs.) was a more than able fill in, and defensive coordinator Kyle Williams took full advantage of a constant stream of linemen in and out of the game. Senior Ben Hutch (6’4″ 293 lbs.), sophomore Bryson Stewart (6’0″ 269 lbs), and sophomore Clifford Funderburk (6’2″ 235 lbs.) did as well as could be expected against a very good Demon team last week.
The Blue Gang is led in tackles by two senior linebackers, Michael Noble (6’0″ 216 lbs.) and Dee Walker (6’2″ 224 lbs.). Noble has 51 tackles (24 solo), and a pick six this season. Walker has 48 tackles (18 solo) despite playing hurt much of last week.
If the defensive line is able to hold up, both Noble and Walker will have opportunities to make some big plays.
MOVERS AND SHAKERS/THE BACK LINE:
Colonels Movers and Shakers: 5’11” 203 lbs.
Lion Back Line: 5’10” 174 lbs.
The Colonel offense is led in rushing by senior running back Julien Gums (5’10” 230 lbs.) who has 678 yards on 151 attempts, 3 touchdowns, and a long of 37 yards. Sophomore Collin Guggenheim (5’11” 205) has 499 yards on 93 attempts, 4 touchdowns, and a long of 47 yards.
Junior quarterback Kohen Granier (6’1″ 200 lbs.) is the Nicholls State quarterback and has 148 completions on 259 attempts for 1,615 yards, 12 touchdowns, and a long of 89 yards. He has also thrown 9 interceptions.
Junior K.J. Franklin (5’9″ 175 lbs.) is the Colonels leading receiver, with 40 catches for 378 yards, a touchdown, and a long of 23 yards. Senior Al’Dontre Davis (6’0″ 210 lbs.) has 325 yards on 27 receptions, 3 touchdowns, and a long of 40 yards.
Although not very explosive, Nicholls State runs the ball very well, and with a decent passing game, have the ability to shorten the game on the Lions and dominate time of possession.
The Lion back line is led by senior Darius Williams (5’10” 189 lbs.) who has 47 tackles (32 solo), and junior Dariyon Taylor (5’10” 180 lbs.), who has 35 tackles (20 solo). They, along with sophomore Jordan Polk (5’11” 177 lbs.), sophomore Maxwell Epps (5’11” 189 lbs.), sophomore Kendall Paul (5’8″ 157 lbs.) and senior D’Ante Smith (6’0″ 198 lbs.) have jelled quickly as a unit and have been much better than anticipated.
VERY SPECIAL, INDEED:
Freshman Kylan Dupre (5’10” 200 lbs.) is the Colonel punter, averaging 40.3 yards on 44 punts, with a long of 56 yards. He has had a punt blocked this season. Junior Gavin Lasseigne (5’11” 190 lbs.) is 8-13 on field goals, with a long of 52 yards, and is 18 of 19 on extra points.
Senior B.J. Busbee (5’7″ 149 lbs.) hasn’t had many opportunites for notable returns this season, but when he does, he averages 10.4 yards on 13 returns, with a long of 27 yards. Freshman defensive back Sean Krystoff-King (5’9″ 178 lbs.) averages 23.1 yards on 9 kickoff returns, with a long of 59 yards.
THE LIONS WIN THIS GAME IF: Nicholls is primarily a run first offense. If the Lions are able to control that, the Colonels are not very big play capable, and the Blue Gang should be able to create an advantage. They have been able to force more turnovers recently, and the Nicholls offense has been prone to the turnover. Offensively it all depends on the Lions offensive line. If they’re able to keep either Rodriguez or Magalei upright in the pocket, there will be opportunities for plays to be made, especially if they can run the ball just enough to be effective.
The biggest question remains, though. Which Lion team will show up? If it’s the team we saw the first seven, even eight weeks of the season, then they have a real chance, if it’s the same mistake-filled, penalty prone, group with seemingly no sense of urgency we saw last week, then it could be another long day. This Pride of Lions has the heart, ability, and the talent to succeed. Eliminate the silly mistakes, and that success is well within their grasp.
See You Saturday.