05/08/03 Coach John Bronkhorst
The Edge is breaking down this week’s top game Lake Charles Landsharks (5-1 Overall/4-1 Atlantic South) @ Houma Bayou Bucks (4-3 Overall/3-2 Atlantic South). This game has so much at stake. If everything plays out a certain way, you could see 4 teams with a 4-2 division record.
These 2 teams met 2 weeks ago in Lake Charles, with Houma coming out on top with a 48-35 victory. Lake Charles has not played a game since this defeat while Houma traveled to Tupelo to beat the Fire Ants last week 47-26.
Lake Charles, in my opinion, is still the team to beat in the Atlantic South. I feel they fell victim to the emotional return of QB and team leader, Herb Tyler, the last time these 2 teams faced off. In their last meeting, Houma jumped out to a 17-0 lead before the Sharks knew what hit them. The Sharks out gained the Bucks 201-113, but I think this game was decided by the play of the 2 QB’s. Herb Tyler returned which brought an emotion back to the Bucks offense that was lacking. He didn’t have a spectacular night statistically, he was 7-12 for 50 yards 1 TD, but most importantly, 0 INT’s. What Tyler did was run this offense efficiently without making any costly mistakes. On the other hand, I think Ted Robison did not play very well and did not play like he knows how to play. He had a good stat line, 16-37 for 191 yards 4 TD’s but he had 4 critical INT’s, one of which was returned for a TD. I give him credit, he kept his team in the ball game with his 4 TD’s, but he was equally at fault for the loss with his 4 INT’s. The 1 question that comes to my mind here coming out of the game; where is David Winbush in the offensive play calling and planning? You have a RB that is special, he could quite possible be one of the top players in this league and he touches the ball 9 times the entire game. He is a gamebreaker, he is a difference maker, and this kid needs to be more of a focal point of this offense and its game planning.
With the pressure that Houma puts on an offense, I think the best way to attack this team defensively, is to use its aggressiveness against them. Misdirection plays worked on this team a lot last season. Also, use Winbush on check-down or swing routes out of the backfield, they are like little toss sweeps and allow him to get to the corner faster. Use screens, such as a middle slip screen to Winbush, set him up as a blocker and slip him under the rush of the DL and he will have the middle of the field open with a line of blockers in front.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Sharks have got to get to Tyler and get to him early. Get him out of rhythm. Hit him and knock him down often. But the main offensive threat that must be stopped is RB Michael Burks. In their last game, Burks had 21 carries for 63 yards and 4 TD’s. He didn’t rack up the yards, but what he and Tyler were able to accomplish is keep the Sharks defense on the field and eat the clock. They essentially shorten the game up and when you allow a team to get up 17-0, shortening a game is not what you want.
In the special teams area, why isn’t Winbush returning kicks more often? Martin is doing a good job with 8 returns for 138 yards, but he isn’t the game breaker that you need back there. Sanford is 7-16 in FG attempts for 43%.
This team is on a roll and playing with a lot of confidence. The victory over the Sharks 2 weeks ago put this team back on track and I don’t find it a coincidence that it happens when Tyler returned. This team has the Sharks number. I honestly think they present match-up problems for the Sharks on both sides of the ball. I think the physical and aggressive style of the Bucks defense presents problems for the Sharks. Houma needs to keep the same attitude and game plan with some subtle adjustments this week. I would attack this Sharks defense with short intermediate passes, nothing to risky and continue to pound Burks. This again will shorten the game and keep that Sharks defense on the field. If they can accomplish that, with Burks pounding at them and the short passes frustrating them, this can make the difference in a close game in the 4th quarter when the Sharks defense is tired and worn out.
Defensively for this team, I say just keep what your doing. I would drop the true LB out of the line-up when Winbush is in, bring in another Strong Safety type player, put him in the middle and spy Winbush all night. The Sharks, I feel do not have enough weapons outside of Winbush that can break a game open. Losing Jacobe Austin has put this team in a bind and I think puts this offense at a disadvantage because you no longer have that gamebreaker at wideout to offset Winbush at RB. When the Sharks put Byron Allen in the backfield, then need to sub their true LB back in, Allen is a horse and an outstanding short yardage back.
In special team, Causey has been doing a good job on kickoff returns. He has 8 for 131 yards. That’s solid, but he has yet to break one for pay dirt. The kicking game is struggling just a bit; Stropolo is hitting just 26.1% of his FG attempts. He has been solid from 30-39 range, which might be a factor late in this game.
This game should be great, probably one to write home about. Lake Charles has a score to settle with Houma. Houma has the Sharks number and benefits from playing this game at home. When it’s all said and done, I think the better team will rise up and win this game late, that better team is…. Lake Charles, the Sharks restore some normalcy to the South.
Final Score: Lake Charles Landsharks – 48
Houma Bayou Bucks - 42
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