North Alabama puts its four-game winning streak on the line Saturday when the Lions host old rival Valdosta State. Kickoff is at 6 p.m. at Braly Stadium.
So can UNA keep on finding a way to win today? It could happen, but several things will have to go right for the Lions if they are going to knock off the Blazers.
First, the offense has to produce. The offense put together two beautiful drives on its first three possessions in last week’s 21-16 victory over Texas A&M-Kingsville and then did nothing for the final 2 1/2 quarters. That’s won’t be enough against Valdosta State. The Blazers have one of the nation’s top offenses and UNA cannot afford to have a bunch of three-and-outs and give Valdosta State the ball in good field position. Even if the Lions don’t score its important to make some first times to keep Valdosta’s offense on the sideline as much as possible.
For the offense to produce it has to make some plays in the passing game early. Everyone expects the Blazer defense to put eight men in the box and dare UNA to throw the football. When this happens, the Lions have to produce. Quarterback Chris Alexander can’t overthrow open receivers the way he did three weeks ago at Delta State. If the Lions can make some plays early in the passing game that will give them a chance to open up the running game and sustain some drives.
As for the defense, it has been great in the pasf four weeks, allowing only two touchdowns. The defense will face a different challenge this time, however, in Valdosta State. The Blazers had a big, experiened offensvie line, tall, explosive receivers, a very quick running back and two capable quarterbacks. It is definitely the biggest challenge of the year for UNA’s young defense.
The key for the defense is limiting the big plays. Make the Blazers string together long drives if they are going to score, and don’t let one of those wide receivers turn a short pass into a long play. The defensive line has to get some pressure on the quarterback and the secondary has to tackle well.
UNA also needs to win the kicking game. Kicker Michael Schuster has not made a field goal since kicking five in one game four weeks ago. The Lions must take advantage of every scoring opportunity they have.
So who wins? My guess is that the Lions will not be able to make enough happen in the passing game and Valdosta State’s offense will be able to control the ball and wear down the UNA defense. It should be a good game, but in the end the Blazers are a little too strong.
Valdosta State 30, UNA 21Share on Facebook