Who's Playing?: Oxford (1-1, #5 CL/AP, #2 MP, #33 NTL (MP computer poll), #1 in 5A [MP]) vs. Madison Central (2-0, #4 AP, #8 MP/CL, #4 in 6A [AP])
What?: Third Regular Season Game
Where?: Bobby Holcomb Field
When?: Friday, September 4th @ 7:00 PM
How can you keep yourself updated?: 95.5 FM Radio, Bullseye955.com, @OxChargerSports Twitter account, thru the iScore Gamecast HERE (use ID 7DF28156B0 for entry if needed) and the iScore Central App on Apple devices HERE (download the app for free using that link, which will send you to the Apple App Store, after downloading and starting the app, search Oxford and/or Madison Central for the game)
The Lowdown: If Oxford was going to have a bad game at any point in the season, Game 2 was the spot to do it instead of the last game of the year (or really any point before mid-September). If there is one takeaway from this, the big shining light of ESPN gave them experience of what not to do if they are to come across that situation should the Chargers make it to Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.
Game 1 featured plenty of mistakes, such as 24 penalties. Game 2 featured what seemed like the same number of dropped passes on offense that kept the defense on the field for way too long. The defense made enough plays to stay in this game such as the two turnovers which was directly responsible for the lone score last week.
Game 3 will feature a defensively tough Madison Central team that has beaten Meridian and Brandon, both who normally make noise in 6A. The Jaguars effectively ran the ball against Brandon to take control of the game last week to win by 10 points.
Oxford did not perform well on offense in large part due to the drops many of the wide receivers for the Chargers had. That stopped several drives last week and a couple would've likely scored had a play been made on it. Starkville's defense was good, but Oxford stopped themselves several times as well. It was to the point the defense was going back out there after being on the bench for just three minutes or less.
The offense must do a better job to allow this defense to be effective late in the game. Statistically AJ Brown had a monster game, in hindsight all he really did save for 2-3 passes was catch a two-yard hitch routes and run up the field for as many yards as he could gain. Brown was basically used as an extension of the run game and not an actual passing game. Oxford's DBs did not press often which allowed to have uncontested catches for Brown to catch. The difference in the game besides the OHS defense getting worn out was Starkville successfully executed the pitch-and-catch routine and Oxford did not.
It seems Madison Central feels the need to not put up stats on their Maxpreps page even though per MHSAA it is against the rules. Based on their first two games though despite no individual stats that any member of the media could look at - the whole reason behind the rule, they rely on defense and a grind-it-out type of attack. That is their game, to limit the amount of possessions and dominate from a physical standpoint. They won by scores of 24-18 and 23-13. They rely on their defense and grind out drives on offense - similar to a style former Mississippi State coach Sylvester Croom tried to input during his time with the Bulldogs.
This game though will be decided on how the Oxford offense will respond after one of their worst efforts in the three years they have been here against a Jaguar defense that can certainly hold their own.
For Oxford to Win, They Must: Make the Catch - Jack Abraham was 14-for-27 last week, more than half of his incompletions was because of a dropped ball. For a team that was extremely successful at 7-on-7 for each of the last three years, that should not ever happen again.
Play With Energy for All 48 Minutes - Oxford roared out of the gate causing a turnover and cashing that in for 7 last week. After that, the energy was rather dull on both ends. Sure, come out with some fire, but save some of that fire for the other three quarters.
For Madison Central to Win, They Must: Keep Possession - If any team can keep possession for better than 60 percent of the game, the defense will get tired. The Jags need to keep the chains moving like Starkville accomplished last week.
Trust Your Defense - At some point, they will need to make a play to get the edge. Oxford's offense is still dangerous. One bad game doesn't derail a reputation of scoring north of 30 points a game, especially since that is what earned Oxford's first two ever Dandy Dozen selections in the first place. A bend-don't-break attitude can go a long way, patience is key.
Other Notes: Oxford is playing their third consecutive 6A school to start the season. Last week was the first time since Jack Abraham became the starter at Quarterback that Oxford has gone at least two consecutive quarters without scoring in the same game and only the second time the Chargers have gone at least two consecutive quarters without scoring (Jackson Prep 4th Quarter-Starkville 1st Quarter in 2014)