Who's Playing?: Oxford (1-1, #6 CL/AP, #4 MP, #1 in 5A [CL]) @ Cleveland East Side (2-0, #6 in 3A [AP])
What?: Third Regular Season Game
Where?: East Side High School's Football Field
When?: Friday, September 5th @ 7:00 PM
How can you keep yourself updated?: 95.5 FM Radio, Bullseye955.com, @OxChargerSports Twitter account
The Lowdown: The Oxford Defense took a tough pill to swallow - especially with KT McCollins out in the secondary - not being able to match the speed of the Yellow Jacket Wide Receivers. Brady Davis' numbers may look like he was an all out stud (20/32, 407 Yds, 6 TD, INT) - but the fact of the matter is that he is overrated - as 275 of the 407 yards he passed for (68% of all his yards) was after the catch was made - meaning the wideouts did most of the work and that Oxford did a poor job of tackling. Davis did not have to do much at all and he threw a pick to a man sitting still. To put that in perspective, Jack Abraham threw for more yards before the catch than Davis did (212 to just 133, Oxford as a team threw for 240 before the catch). Two of the TD passes were caught behind the line of scrimmage.
Speaking of defenses, the East Side Trojans have yielded just 6 points so far this season. Granted, they were against 2-1A opponents Shaw and Mound Bayou JFK. Obviously Oxford is a whole 'nother animal, and looking angry after getting beat like they did last week. For whatever reason, East Side has not put up stats for either of their two games. They do like to lineup in a two-TE, two-RB shotgun look and run the ball to either side.
The Chargers have really played about 3-1/2 quarters of really good football so far this year across the 10 they have played. They have had to deal with tough opponents throughout, but nevertheless has played some great football and some bad. Injuries has hampered this team with Oxford's best CB out early to a knee injury, and now Oxford's 4th starting wideout was concussed last week on a late hit. It is not known if he will be able to play this week. The OHS coaching staff would love to see 4 quarters of good football with some energy.
The offensive line play has to be better. Oxford may have racked up 513 yards last week (went largely unnoticed by everyone), but only 113 on the ground. Kenzie Phillips is constantly getting hit early in the play and has earned all of his yards he has gotten so far. Jack Abraham cannot stay in the pocket for longer than 2 seconds before having to roll out to buy time.
This will be one of Oxford's easiest games they have this year. East Side is your typical run-the-ball type of team. They are a team overshadowed by Cleveland across town (ranked 2nd in 4A) and Delta State nearby taking up a lot of attention. This defense needs something that was regarded pretty high last year and returned the bulk of the defense. This hasn't been the ideal start. Posting a low number or even a shutout could do wonders for their confidence.
The goal this week is to execute and fix things against an overpowered 3A team. Let's see what happens.
For Oxford to Win, They Must: Do Better on Special Teams - Starkville's average starting field position was on their own 37, Oxford's was at their own 23 before the last two possessions of the game. That was directly attributed to Special Teams. Oxford constantly started from their own 20, Starkville was much further up field and usually started beyond their own 40. That helps create a 23-point difference.
Win Up Front - The Goal for the offense should be to get around the 200 yard mark on the ground. They need to lay off pressure from Abraham and his arm to get it all done. The defensive line needs to penetrate this week and stop the running game East Side presents.
For East Side to Win, They Must: Execute the Run Game - Polar opposite of what we saw last week. This is a run-first team instead of guessing what will be run on 1st down. They play by the book, run first, pass if they have to with a sprinkle of passing on a running down just to keep the defense honest.
Cover Ground on Defense - Oxford over the last season and the first two games has yet to have a game where they have failed to score less than four times on offense. Everyone knows the Oxford O can move it. Can the Trojans contain the damage?
Other Notes: 4 players completed a pass last week (Abraham, Liam Cooper, Dalton Markle, and Ben Bianco). Oxford did not have another player attempt a pass until the Lewisburg game last season. Oxford passed for 400 yards last week, only the second time since 2003 and first time since against North Panola in 2007 that Oxford as a team passed for 400 or more yards. The loss last week snapped a 16-game home win streak (last loss was to Clarksdale in 2011) and a 13-game regular season win streak (last loss at West Point in 2012).