Samuel D. Logan
The Valdosta Daily Times
After successfully sealing a victory against Shorter College last week, the Valdosta State Blazers accomplished their first shut-out in almost three years.
The Blazers come into this week’s game 2-0 as they take on a 1-2 Angelo State Rams team.
Valdosta State boasts a balanced offense thus far this season, averaging 201 rushing yards per game and 235 passing yards.
With the current level of play by sophomore running backs Cedric O'Neal and Austin Scott, the Blazers will have to continue to run to win against a tough Angelo State team. Both running backs have accounted for 361 rushing yards this season combined.
“We’ve worked with our running backs and offensive line this week, to be able to pick up the blitzing schemes of our opponent,” said Blazers Head Coach David Dean.
“Our run game will continue to be efficient. For us to be successful, we have to run the football,” added Dean.
The Blazers big task in Saturday’s game is putting together long drives that move down the field.
“One thing I would like to do offensively is put together long drives. We seem to be a big play offense. You never want to complain about scoring, but they’ve all been big long scores so far this year,” said Coach Dean.
With quarterback Cayden Cochran playing well, the wide receivers will be called on even more this week to keep the Angelo State defense guessing.
“We’ve been working on route running this week; being able to get in and out of breaks this game will be important,” said Coach Dean.
As for the defense, VSU has only surrendered an average of 10.5 points this season.
The ‘Black Swarm’ defense has recorded 10 sacks and 22 tackles for loss.
“It’s a totally different scheme on offense we’re facing this week,” said Dean. “They do a lot of play action plays. We tackled better last week but we still have to correct that. We can’t allow good backs to get in open field.”
Going against Angelo State, the pass defense will have to step up, allowing just under 300 yards passing a game. The Rams average 236 yards passing per game.
“We have to play pass defense better. We gave up some big plays in the passing game, but have to improve because from here on out we will play more teams that will pass the ball,” said Dean.
“We do a lot of one- on- one drills in practice. Our corners going against our receivers helps our cornerbacks a lot,” added Dean.
Lastly, the Blazers have to minimize turnovers on their part. Last week, running back O’ Neal fumbled on the goal line, his second fumble of the season. When asked if turnovers affect players' depth chart positions, Dean stated, “Unless it becomes a chronic problem, we won’t bench a player for fumbles or an interception. We’re never going to take them out of the game for that.”
The Valdosta State Blazers kick off tonight at 7 p.m. at Bazemore-Hyder Stadium.
The game will be carried live on Saturday on Mediacom in South Georgia (Macon and below). Meanwhile, the contest will be broadcast on a taped delay basis by CoxSports. The game can also be viewed live on ESPN3 and as part of the ESPN Game Day program, which is on Time Warner free of charge with the purchase of the Sports Package.