The Edge

06/27/03 Coach John Bronkhorst

BILLINGS OUTLAWS (6-7) @ LINCOLN CAPITOLS (8-5)

These 2 teams met on May 17th in Billings with the Outlaws laying the wood to the Capitols 44-20.  In that game one of the NIFL’s top RB’s, John Hall was held to 23 yards rushing and –1 yards receiving.  The Capitols however, played that game without starting QB Justin Coleman do to work commitments. 

It’s now June 27th.  Billings has no shot at the playoffs and depending on who you talk to, neither does Lincoln.  This game has been one of the hottest and most talked games all week long on the leagues website.  Lets get to the breakdown….

Billings

The Outlaws come into this game averaging 46 points per game on offense.  When you think of Billings offensively, you think of Albert Higgs.  Higgs is one of the leagues top QB’s and has put up some very impressive numbers this year, 222-374 2432 yards 44 TD’s 22 INT’s.  What has hurt this team the most has been they have not been able to mount a consistent running attack to keep defenses honest.  Yo Humphrey may be that answer in the run game.  Yo has been out for part of this season and has not been able to establish himself as the dominate RB that a lot of people had expected.  Humphrey has 80 carries for 250 yards 10 TD’s to pace the Outlaws running attack.  The Outlaws face a stingy Capitols defense that only allows 68 yards rushing per game and 157 yards passing per game.  For Billings to again be successful offensively, they have to try and establish Humphrey early, keep the Caps defense in a guessing mode.  Everyone knows how good Higgs is at QB and the Caps are going to setup their defensive alignments to counteract his ability.  Its key to get Yo into the flow of the game early to open up passing lanes for Higgs to get the ball in the hands of Bryan Meier.  Meier is one of the best receivers in the league with 75 receptions for 1,067 yards and 15 TD’s.  With the development of Humphrey in the game plan, this offense now becomes a 3-headed monster and will give the Lincoln defense fits all night.

Billings defense comes into this game giving up 44 points per game and only surrenders 66 yards/game on the ground and 191 yards/game thru the air.  This defense did an incredible job last time these two met when they held John Hall to just 23 yards rushing.  This is an underrated defense because statistically they are not attractive.  The Outlaws defense is led in tackles by LB Luke Twibell who has 72 total tackles, they are led in sacks for DL Andy Petek who has 7 and is led by Ali Rolle in the secondary who has 3 INT’s.  This defense is not flashy and doesn’t put up big stats, but what they do is work hard together are a collective unit.  They have their work cut out for them this week when Hall comes a callin’ once again.  Believe he remembers his last game against Billings and is looking for redemption.  The key for Billings is they not only must contain Hall, but they now have to worry about QB Justin Coleman, who was unable to play in their last meeting.  Having an experienced QB the helm this time will put added pressure on this defense that not only has to focus on stopping Hall, but also now must try to contain the passing of Coleman.  I expect to see Twibell at or near the line of scrimmage all night and for the Outlaws to gamble that their 4 DBs can control the secondary.  If they cannot control and contain Hall like they did last time, this will allow the Caps to run the ball and wear them down.  If Twibell can make a difference along with Petek at the LOS and not only contain Hall but also get to Coleman and hurry him, I see a long night for the Caps offense yet again.

 LINCOLN

There is no doubt in anyone’s mind around the league, when you think of the Lincoln Capitols offense, one name comes to mind, RB John Hall.  This man is a horse.  He has 239 carries for 1050 yards 28 TD’s and is averaging 4.4 yards/carry.  Yet, when these two teams met in May, the horse was nothing more than a pony.  Chalk that one up to the lack of not having their QB Justin Coleman playing in the game.  Coleman may not the flashiest QB in the league, but what he does do is create enough concern for defenses that if they want to crowd the line of scrimmage, he is more than capable enough of burning opposing teams defensive backfield.  Coleman comes into the game with 128-234 1470 yards 27 TD’s 14 INT’s.  His favorite receiver is Jason Mitchell who has 58 receptions for 776 yards and 16 TD’s.  Billings knows that they are going to have to sell out to stop the run this week. I expect them to be stacked up at the LOS and keying on Hall.  That means, its very important for Coleman to keep his poise and deliver precision passes against this defense.  He is going to get pressure from the front 4 to try and disrupt him.  The Outlaws would much rather force Lincoln into throwing the football more than 30 times in the game.  By doing this, the Outlaws have effectively taken Hall out.  I would not be surprised to see Billings come out and play a 2-shell defense in the secondary, which is man with the corners with safety help.  You could also expect a typical man-free look with the corners locked on the outside receivers with the safety playing centerfield and the strong-safety taking underneath and/or flat responsibility.  Either way you put it, this Caps offense has got to try and come out and pound Hall early and nickel and dime them with Coleman passes.

The defense of Lincoln can at times look like world beaters and completely dominate a team, just ask Sioux City, they shut them out 20-0.  There are times when this defense seems to not have a clue, just ask Billings the last time they played when the Outlaws polaxed them.  This is an active and aggressive defense that is led in tackles by Heath Staples, who has registered 101.5 total tackles this year.  They are led in sacks by Dwight Keith with 5 and Ty Goode leads the team in INT’s with 5.  This is a defense that is facing a passing attack led by one of the leagues best in Albert Higgs.   This defense surrenders 157 yards/game thru the air and Higgs averages 219 yards/game, so something will have to give.  The last time they met, it was the Caps secondary that cried Uncle, they surrendered 302 yards to Higgs.  The scary thing for Lincoln has to be that they must also now account for Yo Humphrey in the backfield.  Its still Higgs as the main concern, but with the development of Humphrey, this is added worry.  You are going to see the polar opposites in defensive strategy with these two teams.  Billings main concern is stopping the run, while Lincolns main concern is stopping the pass.  I expect to see Lincoln drop its LB into a zone, allow him to read Higgs eyes and roam underneath.  You might see a combo man/zone look from Lincoln at times, trying to confuse Higgs into something that might not be there.  With this possible strategy, it’s very important for the Caps DL to contain and control the LOS and get pressure on Higgs.  If they cannot get to him at all and not make him worry, it will be another 300+ yard night for him.

FINAL THOUGHTS

This has the makings for a classic barnburner.  These 2 teams have different agendas this week, one playing the spoiler role and the other trying to survive a playoff bid.  The outcome will not be a blow out like the last time.  There will not be a double-digit win for either side.  Both teams are classy and play the game like it should be played.  I think home field plays a big role in this contest…

Lincoln – 48

Billings – 45

 

See you next week…


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