Written By: Chris Webb
The Blazers will have one thing on their mind this Saturday when they line up to play the University of North Alabama: revenge.
No. 21 Valdosta State (2-1, 0-1) will pack their bags and head to Florence, Alabama and take on No. 5 North Alabama (2-0, 1-0) in a third straight top-25 matchup this season for VSU.
This will be both teams’ 38th overall matchup against each other with UNA holding a 21-15-1 advantage including last year’s 57-7 stomping in Valdosta.
The Lions scored five touchdowns to go with over 230 yards on the ground as the Blazers seemed to have no answers to the depth in their backfield; UNA saw four different rushers score on the day.
That however was a year ago, and the run defense has looked much improved early in this season for VSU.
The Black Swarm has looked just like their name implies against the run this season. They are only giving up 2.8 yards a carry against powerful offenses like Winston-Salem State and Delta State.
They will need to continue this success against a run dominant Lions’ attack that rushed the ball a whopping 46 times in last year’s matchup.
Expect UNA to look for the same success this Saturday. They enter the week averaging a remarkable 51 carries and 328 yards per contest.
The high number of rushing attempts is possible every week due to their deep stable of running backs that sees up to five different guys split carries.
The Blazer offense will also play a big part in limiting the dangerous Lions’ rushing attack.
If VSU can get up early and keep the lead, it should stop UNA from attempting as many rushes. They will be forced to battle the clock along with the scoreboard and try to move the ball through the air to preserve time.
This puts pressure on the Lions’ two quarterbacks, Luke Wingo and Jacob Tucker, both of whom look more comfortable running with the ball than throwing it, averaging only 99 and 60 yards passing, respectively.
The Blazers also need their potent rushing attack to show up again after only having 75 yards in last week’s loss to Delta State.
When VSU runs the ball well, they control the clock and keep their defense rested on the sideline as much as possible, both of which will be extremely important in this ground and pound matchup with UNA.
If the Blazers aren’t able to score early or control the clock with their rushing attack, look for UNA to run the ball continuously in an attempt to wear the VSU defense down like it did in last season.
Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. at UNA’s Braly Municipal Stadium. The game will be broadcasted on GSC-TV and streamed from ESPN3.