05/15/03 Coach John Bronkhorst
This week’s marquee match-up is in the Atlantic Conference. It pits the Atlantic East Vs. Atlantic South, the Lexington Horsemen (5-1) travel to Beaumont (5-2) and take on the Drillers. Both teams come in playing well and on a mission to make the playoffs. They also come in with a chip on their shoulders seeking respect within their own divisions. So with that being said, lets get to the breakdown…
The Horsemen come in with a good balanced attack with the running of Martez Johnson, and the passing of Dusty Bonner. Johnson has carried the ball 58 times for 214 yards and 8 TD’s. Bonner is 104-158 for 1026 yards 22 TD’s and 4 INT’s. He has a QB rating of 109.02 and is completing 65.8% of his passes. He is very efficient and spreads the ball around to all his receivers. He has 5 receivers with double-digit receptions and 3 of them have over 20 receptions. This offense will be going against a tough Driller defense whose strength comes from their secondary. Randy Chappell and Troy Espirit lead a Driller secondary who has 14 INT’s on the year. It will be a test for Bonner and his accuracy to find the open receiver against this hard nosed secondary. What might be the best method of attack is to run combo routes that use double moves against this secondary that likes to play man-to-man defense. Also, the Horsemen may want to employ some “rub” routes and clearing routes over the middle and get the secondary into a chase mode. Johnson not only is a solid runner, he is also Bonners favorite target in the pass game. Johnson has 27 receptions for 185 yards and 3 TD’s. Using screens against this defense could also take advantage of the aggressive style of the secondary.
A couple weeks ago I wrote that the strength of this team comes from the QB and WR positions. I still believe that to be true, but I think the heart of this unit comes from the RB spot. In my mind, Troy Sumrall is what this team should be all about. I know Derrick Taite, Shock Davis and Pat Palmer garner all the pub, but Sumrall is my guy. He has 74 carries for 337 yards and 9 TD’s. He is a horse and comes to each game with that lunch pale workman mentality. You can count on this kid to get the tough yards and if you give him any daylight, he’ll make you pay and take it all the way. The loss of Shock Davis to the CFL is big, but the management did a good job of replacing him with Roland Hayes, who is the best all around athlete I’ve ever coached. Of course, they still have pat Palmer who is having a solid season with 30 receptions for 469 yards and 10 TD’s. However, with all that being said, this offense is still predicated on the success and performance of QB Derrick Taite. As I have said in the past, if you want to shut this offense down, you must get to Taite early and harass him and not let him get into a rhythm. If Lexington allows him to get into his game early, he will pick apart the secondary all night with his assortment of weapons. If Lexington does get to Taite early, I think we know what sort of game he is capable of having. Look for a solid balanced run/pass game plan out of Beaumont this week.
The Horsemen bring into the game a very active defense that is led by Nigel Smith who leads the team in tackles with 29 with 21 being solo. Grayson Smith leads the team in sacks with 3 and Champ Kelly leads the team with 4 INT’s. This defense allows 34 points/game and allows just 207 yards/game. The key for this defense is how much pressure can they put on Taite. However, this group cannot afford to concentrate on just stopping Taite or the receivers, if they do they will find Troy Sumrall running them over. Important for the Horsemen is to get the front 3 to control the LOS, get pressure on Taite without having to use the LB, but know where Sumrall is at all times. If they can do this, it will allow for the secondary and the LB to drop into coverage and play aggressive.
For the 1st time since Week 4, the secondary is healthy. Safety’s Chappell and Espirit are the leaders of this squad and lead the team with a combined 7 INT’s between them. Mack Boleware leads the team in tackles with 20 and leads in sacks with 1. The Drillers allow 222 yards/game, but give up 41.6 points/game. This defense will face a Lexington offense that has a lot of weapons and use them very well. They are very balanced in their attack and Bonner is one of the top QB’s in the league. This should be an intriguing battle between Bonner and the Drillers secondary. The wild card could be the running of Johnson. The Drillers are weaker against the run allowing 75 yards/game on the ground. Watch for Lexington to come out and try to keep the Drillers defense off balance with a mixture of the run, pass and screens.
Return Game: Dougie Allen is very dangerous. He has 14 returns for 355 yards and 3 TD’s. He sets up the offense with great field position and is always a threat to break one and take it the distance.
Kicking Game: Brian Sivinski: Can’t really gauge how good or bad this kid is. He doesn’t have a lot of attempts 2-9 FG 22.2%, but of those 9, three are from 50+.
Return Game: Loss of Davis is big, but with the addition of Hayes, look for him to pay huge dividends and make people forget Davis.
Kicking Game: Kicker by committee, week 10. Pepperman is back and probably for good. Lets see how he does.
This should be a fun game to watch. Good players with game breaking ability all around. It’s a tough call to make because each team possess the intangibles to be a good football team, but they also possess things that can kick them out of playoff contention. This week I am going with the home team…
Beaumont Drillers – 45
Lexington Horsemen – 42
See you next week.
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