SAGU, Langston figures to be defensive stalemate
Clash of CSFL teams to kickoff at 2:00pm
Watch the action live or on SAGU Sports Live
SAGU Defensive Depth Chart (below)
WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- The Southwestern Assemblies of God University football team has overcome an 0-2 start primarily due to the play of their defensive unit.
In fact, to even their record at 2-2, the Lions had to win two straight games on the road, and by allowing an average of nine points per game in the process.
SAGU now leads the Central States Football League in both scoring defense (23.5 ppg) and in total defense, allowing 330.5 yards per game.
Veteran Defensive Coordinator John Allen is at the controls of a squad that is fairly young and talented. Three seniors have established the core.
Anchoring the front is defensive tackle Rodney “D.J.” Johnson (Detroit, Mich / Springfield Parkview HS) and defensive end Ike Caston (Dallas, Tx / A+ Academy), while Kendal Evers (Danbury, Tx / Danbury HS) patrols at inside linebacker. The trio is long in the tooth and have clearly paid their dues in the weight room.
When there is a pile-up at the line of scrimmage, stalwarts Johnson, “Cast Iron” and Evers are likely to be involved.
Injuries and need led Allen to move senior wide receiver Trevor McKinley (Arlington, Tx / Seguin HS), who still leads the team in receptions, to cornerback. He spent part of his freshman and sophomore seasons there.
Quick, agile and confident, the move two weeks ago helped solidify a patchwork secondary that had sprung a leak or two.
A pair of juniors in the mix, lineman Zack Jackson (Wray, Colo / Wray HS) and weakside safety Jeff Howeth (Dallas, Tx / Highland Park HS, NW Mo State) are big contributors.
Howeth was just named the CSFL Defensive Player of the Week. The transfer from NCAA Division II power Northwest Missouri State was activated two weeks ago.
Four sophomores; defensive end Harry Ford (Thibodaux, La / Thibodaux HS), cornerback Shakeem Taylor (Mesquite, Tx / Poteet HS), inside linebacker Jeremiah Maat (Slidell, La / Slidell HS) and strong safety Dalton Snyder (Ennis, Tx / Ennis HS) are already seasoned hands.
Dylan Snyder (Ennis, Tx / Ennis HS) is the lone freshman currently starting, though eight on the second unit are regularly shuffled into the battle. Coach Allen must enjoy playing high-speed chess.
Dalton’s brother, Dylan, is at free safety. If there is noise in the secondary, a Snyder is at work.
At SAGU, safeties and linebackers are interchangeable. It is part of football’s move to hybrid roles that mix toughness and speed. It is a fusion whose velocity to the point of attack is a counter to fast offenses.
They are also getting healthier. Defensive Back Deonte "Bones" Morrison (Garland, Tx / Lakeview Centennial HS), a sophomore, has made a quick comeback and is an ace in the hole.
Against the run, SAGU is second in the CSFL (168.5 ypg) to Bacone College. Opposing backs are gaining just 3.8 yards per carry, the lowest figure in the league. The Lions have allowed just five rushing TD’s, also the best in the CSFL.
Through the air the Lions are even tougher, permitting (162.0 ypg) average gains per reception of just 6.3 yards per catch. This group ranked #8 in the NAIA a year ago.
Even with the significant losses of CB Nick Ekanem and SS Brad Heathcock, the 2013 secondary is now #13 nationally.
Next comes the toughest test of the season. Langston University, whose benchmark defense is their signature, is in town on Saturday at 2:00pm.
The visitors from Oklahoma have at least seven straight winning seasons. It is their first visit since 2004.
The school that produced Thomas “Hollywood” Henderson, an All-Pro LB for the Dallas Cowboys during the 1980’s, has a long pedigree of defensive standouts.
Saturday’s clash figures to be a defensive battle that will likely be decided by which group forces the most three-and-outs and turnovers, not necessarily in that order.
SAGU hopes to checkmate the longtime nemesis. Provided they do, the defensive troops will be at forefront providing the reason.
NOTE: To view the HD video, go to the SAGU website and click on Watch SAGU TV on the home page, or http://www.sagu.edu/sagutv/ The pre-game show begins at 1:45pm.
|99||Rodney Johnson Jr.||NG||6'3''||300||SR|
|31||Jonathan De Leon||LB||5'10||190||SO|