Lions stand chance against DSU

With this weekend’s big rivalry game at Delta State coming up, I’ve been hearing a lot of doubt coming from some UNA students and fans.

Of course, I can understand this lack of belief coming from some. With our passing game still lacking, and only one impressive overall game from the Lions’ defense, it seems our team may be shaping up to be the Tony Romo of Division II football – inconsistent from one game to the next.

From what we’ve seen in the first three games, the Lions (like Romo) have gone from good enough for a one-point win in game one, to shutting down and getting whipped in game two, to a refreshingly aggressive defensive and overall satisfactory showing to win game three.

After spending some time pouring over both teams’ seasons thus far, I have one thing to say to all the non-believers (and believers) of 2012 Lion football:

If you aren’t planning on going to this weekend’s DSU game, you should – you should at least follow it on Twitter if travelling is not possible. I am hoping I do not end up eating my next words, but I think this game has the potential to be a good contest between two fairly evenly matched teams.

Judging by the teams’ stats, the Lions and the Statesmen are not so different from each other: both teams are struggling in third-down conversions (DSU 43 percent, UNA 42 percent), and the teams are almost even in touchdowns scored (UNA 8, DSU 7). Meanwhile the teams have lost almost the same amount of yardage to penalties (DSU had had 19 penalties for a loss of 138 yds, UNA 18 for 150).

Additionally, both teams are under the leadership of a new coach, lost a good deal of senior players from last season and have a new face at starting quarterback.

UNA has completed more offensive yards than DSU, having 1,119 on the season while the Statesmen have 803. UNA’s total offense comes mostly from rushing (830 yds), while DSU’s are evenly split with 397 rushing yards and 406 passing.

UNA has racked up more first downs than DSU as well, with 64 as opposed to the Statesmen’s 43. However, DSU is performing better in the red zone, completing 67 percent of touchdown attempts in the red, while UNA is completing only 45 percent of such attempts.

While the Lions have made six interceptions for 130 yards, the Statesmen have only made two for 41 yards. However, UNA has lost five of eight fumbles, where DSU has lost only one of three.

One of the biggest threats the Statesmen pose to the Lions, in my opinion, is their ability to sack the quarterback. DSU has recorded four sacks against its first two opponents, taking 25 yards from them. In the Lions’ second game against Harding, Chris Alexander was sacked four times for a loss of 26 yards total.

Another issue worth pointing out is that the majority of the Lions’ impressive stats come from last week’s game against Kentucky Christian University. The Lions played quite well in that game, and as a Lions fan I can only hope to see them continue to step up their game in the coming weeks.

If, however, the Lions revert back to the play they showed against Harding, this season is going to be a rocky one. Of course, the team is young and – as Coach Wallace has said himself – needs time to grow and to learn.

So, I am not saying we are going to show up in Cleveland and kick some Statesmen tail, and I certainly do not expect the team to be perfect – but I think we can at least give Delta State a run for its money, if not a second loss on their currently 1-1 season.

With that said – fans, I hope you’ll show support for your Lions in whatever way you can Saturday. Players and coaches, I hope you guys will show up with your A-game and show us what Lion football has to offer this season.