Call it what it is...we're heavy underdogs. Deservedly so. The previous two meetings have not been close, score wise anyway.
And alot of it had to do with our mistakes but fact remains, we got throttled in the end.
So what do we need to do in order to pull off the 'upset'?
1. Win the LOS - This doesnt necessarily apply to the defensive line. In the previous two meetings, our offensive line got manhandled up front. We couldn't run the ball to save our lives and we need the run in order for everything else to flow. Now I placed this first on the list because not only will it be most important, it's also the most challenging. Ryan has a top 3 defensive front in all of 5A and 6A combined. BUT we have to find a way to win up front. And just to dive deeper into SOME of what they have in that front 7:
JR LB Anthony Hill - 5*, 30 offers, best LB in TXHSFB
SR DT Mason Davis - committed to Army
JR DE Marquice Hill - offer from Colorado (had a monster game against us Week 1, will have to watch him on both sides of the ball).
SR DE Michael Gee - multi year all state player, probably the 2nd best player in that front 7 behind Hill. Size bias is keeping him under recruited.
Tall task, but I welcome the challenge.
2. Cut down on the penalties - 120 yards of penalties combined in the previous two meetings....you can't do that against a squad like Ryan and expect to win. To keep it short and simple, discipline is key. They already have an elite level defense, we can't help them by playing behind the sticks. We must stay on schedule with down and distance.
3. JR RB Kalib Hicks - I know we've played Miller from Legacy, and he's good. But I don't care what the recruiting rankings say, Hicks is the best RB we've seen this year...and we're about to see him again on Friday. He's up to 13 offers now and they come from SEC, Big 10, Big 12 and Pac 12. Baylor offered last week. He put 140 yards, and 3 TDs on us last time around on only 9 carries. It was a day of a lot of poor tackling on our end but we absolutely cannot afford to let this dude gash us again. He opens up everything else in that offense. Now, we wont be able to hold him totally in check. Understand that he has over 100 yards on the ground in every single game this year and even multiple 200 yard games. What can I say, hes pretty damn talented. But if we make him really earn his yards like Magnolia West, Lone Star and Guyer did....the game is either much closer (West and LS) or you win (Guyer). I know they have Bailey in the slot out wide, but make no mistake, we have to prioritize slowing down the run this week.
4. Can't get complacent - Both matchups saw Longview start hot, only to implode 2nd/3rd quarters. It's the playoffs, we have to keep our foot on their necks and continue to attack and attack.
5. Special teams - this has been a bright spot for Longview all year, except Week 1 against Ryan and this past week against Lancaster. In both matchups, we gave away points because of special teams errors. Absolutely cannot happen again this year.
Those are the 5 main keys. Now, as a bonus...one thing that Longview has that we didn't have the previous two meetings, Josh Thomas. Thomas alone gives us a glimmer of hope. In the previous two matchups, we couldn't run the ball to save our lives. Make matters worse, couldn't throw it either. You just hope that Thomas is able to make a difference this time around. Even still, it's important that we win the LOS because...we're going to need Taylor Tatum to open up things for us offensively. I don't think Buddha Garrett played in that first game either.
I picked us to lose week one because I didn't think we were ready. I'm not picking this time around because I could honestly see either winning it.