Frustrated BlueCats still waiting
04/30/03 Jeff Gregory
The hard luck BlueCats took it on the chin one more time in front of the home crowd Saturday night in a physical game against the Myrtle Beach Sting Rays. The Evansville faithful was looking forward to seeing a resurgence of the team after the bye week helped them to improve their health. However, circumstances beyond personnel injuries jumped up to bite the ‘Cats like an attacking Sting Ray as wide receiver Tyrone Browning and defensive back Shawn Mercer were missing from the contest.
A STINGRAY (right above) GETS ATTENDED TO IN A PHYSICAL GAME AT EVANSVILLE
Both players were greatly missed. The BlueCat secondary could have used the skills of Mercer as the Myrtle Beach burned the Evansville secondary for four homerun balls – at least two of which were so wide open that no BlueCat defender was within yards of the receiver. That is a telling detail considering the indoor game does not offer much open field.
Browning, Evansville’s top receiver, was also hugely needed. There were two potential touchdown passes that were dropped by receivers in the contest. That fact, combined with the four Roberson interceptions, painted a dimmer than necessary picture of the BlueCat passing attack.
The numbers show that the vacancy left by Browning and Mercer was game altering. There was potentially a six touchdown turnaround in a best-case scenario. At the least, the ‘Cats would have had a much better chance for their first “W” of the season had there been a whole compliment in uniform.
The news was not all bad from Roberts stadium Saturday night. The rejuvenated offensive line showed vast improvement from the previous games. Quarterback Akili Roberson had more time to throw than he had experienced previously. This will only improve as the “new” OL gels. In addition, running back Levron Williams, with the help of the improved OL, found the end zone five times Saturday. Williams showed great vision and cutback moves while relentlessly plowing through the Sting Ray line while in the ultra-red zone.
WILLIAMS (left) BARRELS IN FOR ONE OF HIS FIVE TD’S.
Roberson is still looking for his 2002 form when he was an all-star in Knoxville. His four interceptions were very costly and were momentum killers. Two of them came in the fourth quarter when Evansville had a great chance to pull out the game. One interception came with 1:40 in the game with the BlueCats down only two. The final pick came at 1:20 in the game when Evansville still had a chance to send the contest into overtime with a quick touchdown and two-point conversion.
The next assignment for the BlueCats comes in a rare Sunday game this week against the best team in the league – the Ohio Valley Greyhounds. The Hounds pounded the ‘Cats in the first meeting 55-19 in Wheeling. Look for the ‘Cats to try to exploit the soft part of the defense behind the linebackers but under the deep coverage. They have neglected that area of the field a great deal so far this season. Come-back patterns in the middle by a third receiver should open up when the Greyhounds send extra pressure on the Roberson.
The BlueCats are looking forward to having everyone back for the game and has not given up on the idea of the league’s biggest upset. A win over the defending champs has the potential to turn the season around for the BlueCats. One key for Evansville will to make some initial key defensive stops at the onset of the game and not let the Hounds build momentum. That has been OV’s M.O. all season.
Coach Avery Atadero knows that knocking off Ohio Valley is a tall order. The Hounds success starts up front as the OL have played together for the past four years. The ‘Cats know the importance of continuity on the OL better than most. They have struggled with that very concept all season.
This is a huge game for the city as well regarding sustaining good attendance at Roberts stadium. Coach Atadero has been impressed with the fan support here despite the team being light on the left side of the record ledger. He states that he wants to win for the fans as much as he does for himself or the team. “The fans in Evansville deserve a winner and we will keep building till we give it to them.”
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