The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

September 15, 2012

Lions executing triple option with few ballhandling mistakes

By Jim Henry
Globe Sports Editor

EDMOND, Okla. — Missouri Southern football coach Daryl Daye couldn’t knock three times on the wood podium in front of him fast enough.

The Lions have made few ballhandling errors running their new triple-option offense through the first two games.

“Give those (offensive backs) credit,” Daye said. “Our offensive coaches have worked on it. We work on it every day. Surprised? No. I’m very happy but not surprised. We have two good quarterbacks who are doing a good job controlling the game.”

The Lion offense has had only one fumble — in the season opener at Central Oklahoma, and it came past the line of scrimmage. A lost fumble in last week’s game against Northeastern State came on special teams.

Entering today’s game at Lincoln, the Lions (2-0) rank 10th nationally in rushing offense (287.0 yards per game). They have only 84 passing yards in two games, but Daye has confidence in the aerial attack.

“It’s a situation that we’re going to establish (the run) and do what we do to control the game,” Daye said. “It’s been the right move two weeks in a row, and if we can continue to do that, that’s what we’re going to do. We’re not here to say we’re going to look for this many yards in passing or this completion ratio or try to get anybody big numbers. We’re here to win. We’re going to do what it takes to win and what we do is best for our football program.”

As the season progresses, teams have more game film to prepare for the Lions’ offense. However, that does not ensure success.

“How I see it, teams may know what we’re running but you have to be able to stop us,” said Bryant Venson, one of seven Lion backs who is averaging at least 4.5 yards per carry. “If you shift everybody to the outside to protect the edge and protect the pitch, we’ll just give it to the dive (back). If you play inside, we’re going to take the pitch, and if you put nine in the box, we’re going to throw over the top. You pick your poison, that’s how I see it.”

Venson, who scored a 19-yard touchdown last week, praises the offensive line.

“Our offensive line gets better every week,” he said. “They get better at their job and their responsibility, and they know once they do their job, we can break a good play and keep it rolling.”

The Lions rank second in the league in rushing defense (76.5) and total defense (294.0).

Lincoln (0-2) is led by quarterback Jacob Morris, who has three touchdowns rushing and three touchdowns passing.

Morris Henderson has only nine carries but averages almost 10 yards per attempt, and Khiry Drane is a big-play receiver with eight catches for 196 yards (24.5 average) and two scores.

“Lincoln runs a spread offense,” Lions defensive tackle Jonathan Rogers said. “They have a lot of fast players on the outside, and the offensive line is pretty good as well.”

“They have a young football team, a lot of guys who are transfers,” Daye said. “There is nothing more dangerous than a wounded animal, and they are going to come out swinging.

“Coach Mike Jones — congratulations to him on going into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame — will have his guys ready to play. They have a lot of athletes, and they are getting better each week. We’re expecting a fourth-quarter battle again.”