Another week in the books and the 2010 regular season is half over. The Riders are 4-1 (2-0 in the Ohio Cardinal Conference)....but far from where they want to be in terms of a playoff-ready team. Let's talk about the 28-14 win over Mansfield Senior and another dominating performance by the "Red Curtain" defense. We'll also address the sputtering of the offense over the last few weeks.
Defense wins championships
The adage has been proven over and over...and right now, the Rider defense is carrying this team. Senior was not an inept offense, they came into the game averaging almost 36 points per game. They knew their way to the endzone. The Riders held them to 63 yards of total offense, and negative yards rushing (minus 16). It's the second opponent the Riders have held to negative rushing yards this season (Northwest was the other). They've not given up a point on defense in the last 8 quarters and have only allowed a total of 181 yards (and 8 first downs) in the first 2 weeks of OCC play (116 vs Lexington and 63 to Mansfield Sr.).
With West Holmes coming to town, there's good odds that the shutout streak may reach 12 quarters.
The D is playing with a swagger that nobody can score on them....and really...where is there a hole in the defense? Our DB's are as fast and athletic as anyone. Our LB's make play after play and are quick and strong, and our D-line is playing better than most thought.
I liked the play of Nick Graber in place of Wally Woods. He'll get another shot this week against West Holmes and will probably see the field a lot in week 7 against pass-heavy Ashland.
Turnovers DON'T win championships
Again with the turnovers.....we're up to 16 turnovers through 5 games...still averaging more than 3 per game. And they're not just turnovers...they're turnovers that are giving our opponents points. Two more turnovers led directly to all 14 Tyger points. Our last 4 turnovers have DIRECTLY cost us 28 points. This is a team that would be in the playoffs if the regular season ended today....but if they keep shooting themselves in the foot week after week, they wont be a playoff team for long.
Turnovers and penalties are really killing the offense's ability to put together drives and put points on the board.
The last thing I'll ever call myself is an expert when it comes to X's and O's...but we seem to be a little bit predictable in our playcalling. If we were clicking on all cylinders, I'm sure nobody would care, but that hasn't been the case either. Lexington had 42 points scored on the by Clear Fork...one week after we scratched and clawed for 21 points (actually, only 14 since one of the scored versus Lex was an interception returned for a TD).
We seem to be trying too much for the homerun ball and not the intermediate passing game (running slants, WR screens and RB swing passes.) We have the talent to run those routes, and Kyle Lichti has the ability to throw those balls. Drew Brenner has been almost invisible the past few weeks. Don't know that he was targeted more than twice (and that was early in the first quarter) this past week.
A little creativity and unpredictability would be neat to see this coming week. Who knows, maybe we're keeping a few pages of the playbook stashed away for the stretch run?
We've got the horses...but maybe we're a little snakebitten with the turnover bug lately and afraid to take chances.
Also, I think Kyle needs to have the confidence to tuck the ball and run instead of forcing passes sometimes.
Not that it matters, but I considered not doing skulls this week, it was way too ugly a win to hand any out. I think the entire offensive unit should have skulls TAKEN AWAY for each turnover or penalty committed from here on out. Maybe that's the motivation to stay focused and execute.
I do think there are several players who deserve mention...aside the entire defense for a second straight week...so here goes.
2. Cody Rice...Cody is maybe the most physical guy on a very physical defense. It's clear that he loves the big hit.
3. Max Pirman.....when he asserts his will, few players in the OCC can a similar impact as the Indiana commit. With a 35-yard receiving touchdown and several more big plays on D, Max continues to show his worth to this team
4. Tre Simpson....I thought it might be a short night for Tre when I noticed him limping noticeably on Orrville's first drive. I really thought it would take a turn for the worse when his fumble on the 5-yard line led to a Senior touchdown. But he buckled down and proved to be the workhorse back Orrville fans have come to know. Another 30+ carry game has me concerned about his durability, but he's continuing to put up yards and finding the endzone several times per game.
Ohio Cardinal Conference
Wooster beat Madison, Ashland destroyed West Holmes and Clear Fork dominated Lexington. Seems to be a 3 team race between Orrville, Ashland and Clear Fork. Clear Fork at Wooster is the feature game for week 6. Ashland is at Mansfield Senior and Madison is at Lexington also.
The region page is updated with links to the latest standings. If time presents itself, I'd love to run down the process as to how computer points are figured. A lot of you already know, but some don't. It's pretty simple and very addicting once you know how it's done.
The Riders get West Holmes this week, who is just bad this year. But then their last 4 could all have playoff & OCC title implications. They simply MUST get the offensive inconsistency ironed out. The defense and running game are nice to have, but we have to be able to mix it up. Right now, Ashland, Clear Fork and Wooster are all toss up games until we show some improvement on offense.