Greetings, Lion fans, and in the final edition of the Blue Gang Notebook, we’ll break down the matchup with the Tigers of Tennessee State, which, if the Lions win, will guarantee a ninth straight winning season. Despite their recent struggles, this Blue Gang is still very, very good, and surprisingly highly ranked.
Due to the four-year transition period, the Lions are not eligible for national team or statistical rankings. They are, however, conference eligible, and to give you an idea of where they would stand nationally as well as conference wide:
Defense (Nationally): 14th in total defense, 15th in scoring defense, 55th in rushing defense, and 5th in passing defense.
Defense (Conference); 1st total defense, 1st scoring defense, 1st passing defense, 2nd rushing defense.
Offense (Nationally): 54th in passing offense, 75th rushing offense, 52nd scoring offense 72nd total offense.
Offense (Conference): 3rd scoring offense, 6th rushing offense, 5th passing offense, 5th total offense.
Last week in Thibodaux, the Blue Gang, was magnificent, limiting Nicholls to 10 points on offense, but offensive inconsistency was too much to overcome in a 12-10 loss.
So, let’s dive right in and take a closer look at the Tigers….
Points: 17.9 ppg
Rush: 134.5 ypg
Pass: 187.1 ypg
Total: 321.6 ypg
Turnovers : 13
Blue Gang Defense:
Points 19.7 ppg
Rush: 150.0 ypg
Pass: 161.6 ypg
Total: 311.6 ypg
The Tigers struggle a bit offensively, averaging just about 18 points per game, but are well balanced, and do not turn over the ball very much. The challenge for the Lions defenses this week will be to control the Tiger run game and make their offense one dimensonal.
UP FRONT/TALE OF THE TAPE:
Tiger Offensive Line: 6’3″ 316 lbs.
Blue Gang Front 6: 6’1″ 247 lbs.
The Tiger offensive line is big and has a great deal of experience. They are led by senior Christopher Georgia (6’3″ 328 lbs.), a Murray State transfer. He is joined by senior Robert Lacey (6’3″ 340 lbs.), senior Brandon Jones (6’6″ 330 lbs.), redshirt junior Jaalon Gupton (6’5″ 290 lbs.), and sophomore Chazan Page (6’1″ 293 lbs.)
The Lion’s defense is led by their linebackers, seniors Michael Noble (6’0″ 216 lbs) with 64 tackles (29 solo) and Dee Walker (6’2″ 224 lbs.) with 59 tackles (23 solo). They have benefitted from some very good defensive line play by senior Celestin Haba (6’2″ 250 lbs.) senior Ben Hutch (6’4″ 293 lbs.), sophomore Bryson Stewart (6’0″ 269 lbs.), and sophomore Clifford Funderburk (6’2″ 235 lbs.). They have been outstanding in generating pressure on the quarterback and allowing Noble and Walker to roam and make plays.
MOVERS AND SHAKERS/THE BACK LINE:
Tigers Movers and Shakers: 6’0″ 193 lbs.
Blue Gang Back Line: 5’10” 174 lbs.
The Tiger offense is led in rushing by sophomore Jalen Rouse (5’11” 184 lbs.), who had 614 yards on 124 carries, 2 touchdowns, and a long of 36 yards. Junior Devon Starling (6’1″ 210 lbs.) has 510 yards on 108 carries, 1 touchdown, and a long of 43 yards. Junior quarterback Draylen Ellis, an Austin Peay transfer, (6’0″ 175 lbs.) had 364 yards on 89 carries, 3 touchdowns, and a long of 50 yards. Ellis is also 142-258 for 1, 681 yards, 8 touchdowns, and a long of 67 yards.
Redshirt senior J.J. Holloman (6’3″ 215 lbs.), a University of Georgia transfer, leads the Tiger receivers with 337 yards on 31 catches, 1 touchdown, and a long of 26 yards. Redshirt freshman Cheval Brenson (6’2″ 217 lbs.), a Ball State transfer, has 260 yards on 22 catches, 1 touchdown, and a long of 37 yards.
While not possessing explosive type numbers, this position group is very, very good, and is very effective in running the ball.
The Lion back line is led by senior Darius Williams (5’10” 189 lbs.), who has 62 tackles (42 solo), and junior Dariyon Taylor (5’10” 158 lbs.), who has 58 tackles (32 solo). They are joined by senior D’Ante Smith (6’0″ 198 lbs.), sophomore Jordan Polk (5’11” 177 lbs.), sophomore Maxwell Epps ((5’11” 189 lbs.) and sophomore Kendall Paul (5’8″ 157 lbs.), who have come together as a unit very quickly, and played very well as a group.
VERY SPECIAL, INDEED:
Senior Kaleb Moseley (5’10” 187 lbs.) is both kicker and punter for the Tigers, and averages 39.3 yards on 40 punts, with a long of 58 yards. He is also 12-18 on field goals, with a long of 51 yards, and is 17 of 19 on extra points.
Senior receiver B.J. Busbee (5’7″ 149 lbs.) lead the Lions in punt returns, with a 12.5-yard average on 17 returns, with a long of 51 yards. Freshman defensive back Sean Krystoff-King has made kickoff returns his own, with a 22.6-yard average on 12 returns, with a long of 59 yards.
THE LIONS WIN THIS MATCHUP IF: This game is really hard to predict, given the inconsistency of the last three weeks. Which Lion team shows up? The one we saw the first seven weeks of the season, where the only game in which they were not competitive was against Incarnate Word? If that team shows up, focused and ready to conclude the season on a high note, then they have a very good chance at winning. They match up well with Tennessee State and have been good against the run for most of the year. If the Lions of the past three weeks show up, undisciplined and unfocused, then it could be a very long day.
The talent is there, the ability is there. Now, if they can just put it all together for one last time in 2022.
See You at The Hawk.