Friday, October 12, 2007

Game of the Year #2 - Midwestern St at Tarleton St

On paper, this looks like an evenly matched ballgame - 3rd and 4th in scoring offense, 5th & 6th in passing yards, 2nd & 4th in rushing yards, and 1st & 4th in total offense. Defensively they are 1st & 2nd in scoring, rushing and total defense. Remarkably, they both run the ball about 60% of the time.

For Midwestern State, the conversation starts with Daniel Polk, the Mustang's very athletic quarterback. He leads the team in rushing (73 yds per game, 10 TDs), and his success running sets up his passing. So far this season, he's hitting 66% of his passes, for 228 yds per game, and has 9 TDs to only 2 INTs, good for a 153.5 rating. Junior college transfer Joe Chatman chips in with 66 yds a game and true freshman Marcus Mathis is right behind with 64 yds per game. Del Juan Lee is the top WR with 28 catches for 561 yds and 6 TDs. The O Line is obviously doing its job, allowing only 8 sacks, and run blocking well enough for the team to average 6.7 yds per carry. The defense doesn't have any All American candidates, but gets contributions from a lot of players, and is getting the job done.

Tarleton is deep at the RB and WR position, and has a very capable QB in RS Scott Grantham. Grantham is coming off of a poor outing, but still second in the LSC in passing efficiency at a 161.5 rating. He's passed for 227 yds per game, with 11 TDs and 6 INTs. At RB, Michael Sampson rushed for 141 yds last week, and Roderick Smith is averaging 80 yds per game. Devin Guinn and Scott Prentice have combined for 44 catches for 925 yds, 10 TDs and each has a TD reception of 50+ yards. Another top line has only allowed 7 sacks. Defensively, All American candidates Tywain Myles and Rendradick Phillips lead the Tarleton defense.

For Tarleton to win they have to slow down Daniel Polk, plain and simple. Of course that is much easier said than done. Late in last Saturday's ballgame at TAMUK, the Texan defense allowed several scrambles for big gains by a much less athletic quarterback. If they don't improve in that area, they will find themselves losing their first game of the year. Midwestern can't rely on slowing down one player, if they shut down Sampson, Grantham will hit Prentice or Guinn for big plays, or Smith or Travis Evans can break off big ones as well. Look for Myles and Phillips to force a couple of turnovers and a big Texan return on special teams to catapault Tarleton to a home victory, 28-27.

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