More Beef propaganda

07/14/03 NIFL Fan Article by Andrew Hoyle

The Omaha Beef sent the Bismarck Roughriders home Saturday night.. It may not have been pretty at times, and it may not have been easy, but Omaha was able to atone for an earlier regular season loss at home to Bismarck by tanning the Roughriders 72-49 in front of 5,600 hungry Beef fans. The psychological operations started during warm-ups, with offers of personal loans and maps of the state of Texas being offered to the Bismarck players. And to their credit, the Bismarck players and coaches found it just as amusing as Beef fans did. I will also add at this point that I had a great conversation with Nikia Parsons before the game, and Corey Roberson afterwards. These two guys were some of the nicest players I've talked to all season, and both had a great sense of humor. My hat goes off to them and the rest of the Roughrider team for sticking around after the game and talking with fans. It's not often that a game is played where an opposing team would feel comfortable enough to hang around afterwards and yuk it up with the fans, but the Roughriders did. A truly class act, guys.

Omaha started the game off in fine style, with LeAndre Moore returning the kickoff for a touchdown. After that, the best term that could be used to describe the play of both teams in the first half would be "uneven," with Bismarck taking a 21-20 lead into the locker room at halftime. The Roughriders held a distinct advantage in almost every category: total offensive plays (34-16), total yards (174-47), passing yards (164-13), and time of possession (19:20 to 10:40). Beef owner Jay Noddle was down along the sideline at halftime, hoping for an offensive explosion in the second half. But the Beef were going with a "bend but don't break" game plan on defense that ended up being the big producer in the second half. "We came in (at halftime) and said, 'Hey, we need to go ahead and buckle down and gel as a team and go out there and play together' in the second half, and we did," said coach Sanders after the game.

Omaha came out in the third quarter and made a great defensive stand right off the bat, resulting in Bismarck turning the ball over on downs at the Roughrider 13. The Beef scored on the second play from scrimmage, a 6 yard run by QB Troy Travis, and with the Clinton Childs try for 2 points being good, the Beef went up 28-21 and never trailed in this one again. The Beef went on to dominate defensively in the fourth quarter, getting a safety in a QB sandwiching of Chris Schwab by Richard "Big Sexy" Johnson and Damien Bauman, and interceptions by LaMar O'Neal and Dontae Jones led to another 14 points in a 37-point fourth quarter for the Beef. Coach Sanders had high praise for his defensive backfield after the game, saying, "Our DB's are very resilient, they never say die, we got a couple of big picks, so I am very, very pleased by the way they played tonight, and they're going to get better."

A couple of things stood out in this one, not the least of which was the disparity in total yards (329-159 for the Beef) and time of possession (38:12 to 21:48). Number one, special teams play by the Beef was a big factor in the win. LeAndre Moore ended up with 94 yards and a touchdown on three kick returns, and Steve Lovell had one for 28 yards. That stat, coupled with the fact that Bismarck tried several unsuccessful on-side kicks late in the game, allowed Omaha to start with a short field all night long (average start on the Bismarck 20). Second, Bismarck's lack of a running game (11 attempts for 12 yards on the night) made it very one-dimensional and predictable. Roughrider QB Schwab had an excellent night (54 attempts, 33 completions, 2 picks, 317 yards) with the short, swing and crossing routes over the middle, but was probably getting tired from being chased all over the backfield by Harris, Johnson and Bauman on the deeper routes. Third, Omaha played its most mistake-free game to date, having no fumbles, only one penalty on the night, and an interception that was just unlucky. Finally, the excellent conditioning of the Beef was in evidence, especially late in the game. No huffing and puffing or taking a knee on the Beef defensive side of the ball. Defensive line coach Robert Fuller had a glassy-eyed, proud-daddy look on his face after this one, and I can understand why.
The only thing that didn't go right for the Beef on this night was the halftime show. Due to poor lighting conditions, fans missed the number one dance team in the NIFL, the Omaha Prime Dancers, in sexy lingerie, doing a routine from "Chicago." Hopefully they'll take another stab at it, with better lighting, at next week's conference championship game. A bevy of beauties behind bars, oh my......

The Utah Warriors come calling for the conference championship next Saturday, led by QB Danny Ragsdale. It will be another reunion of sorts, with coach Sanders going against his old QB. "I respect coach Leslie; he's done a great job all year long with (his) team and they've continued to get better. I (can't wait) to see Danny Ragsdale come here. You know this is going to be a heck of a conference championship," Colonel Sanders told me after the Bismarck win. While most Omaha fans don't share his enthusiasm for Ragsdale, this game looks to be a lot like the Bismarck game, air versus ground, with only a couple of glaring differences. First, the Warriors have a proven running back in Omar Bacon, even though he was underutilized in the first-round game against Sioux Falls (7 rushes for 11 yards). The Beef defense will have to keep a constant watch on this guy. Second, Ragsdale doesn't have the mobility to move around as much as Schwab did; how will he, and his offensive linemen, respond to a quick and strong defensive line the likes of which they haven't seen out west all year? They don't take a lot of sacks, but once again, team speed might be the difference here. The same goes for the Utah defensive line; how will they respond to a team that sets up the passing game with the run? Will an undersized Utah defensive line that also doesn't get a lot of sacks be able to get penetration on the Beef o-line? (This is excepting Wes Amitoelau, of course; at 6-6, 350 ponds, he is definitely not undersized to be a run-stopper in the middle.) Finally, should it come down to it, there's the kicking game. Utah's kicker is good at PAT's (88 of 99), but only has 17 attempts at field goals on the season, having made 8. Omaha has the best kicker in the NIFL in Chase Long.

This one is for all the marbles, for the right to play the champion from the Atlantic in the Nifflebowl. I'm bringing 10 rookies to their first indoor football game this week, and no matter what, they're in for a treat when it's all said and done. Utah is used to playing in front of six or seven thousand friendly fans, but this one is going to be six or seven thousand hungry, rabid, mad-cow diseased Beef fans. They're going to be like piranhas circling the kill, and it's likely to be bloody, one way or the other.

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