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The Dead Zone
Greetings From The Booth!
This time of the year, our Views From The Booth is about dissecting the previous week’s Shenandoah University football game and looking ahead to the next contest. Our every-other-year trip to Hampden-Sydney College is usually taken in October, and is a bit more Fall-like. This year we missed the Autumn colors as we made our way to Charlottesville on I-64, and then wound our way to Farmville on Routes 20 and 15. This year, the trees were still green, and the broadcast booth was a bit steamy as the 2-0 Hornets took on the 0-2 Tigers in the ODAC opener for both teams.
The game started with a 7-0 SU lead and a dominating first quarter. Then, just like that, things turned for the worse, as HSC scored three times in the second stanza, then turned the lights out on the Hornets early in the third for a decisive 28-7 win. Some games are easy to analyze, and this game was one of them.
Shenandoah missed out on 3 red zone opportunities, went 0-for-4 on fourth downs, couldn’t convert a fake punt into a first down on a play the Hornets will make 99 times out of 100. And a 32-yard field goal by the usually reliable Patrick Ritchie sailed wide left. Two of the aforementioned red zone trips were from the 2-yard line. Add all of these missed opportunities up and you get zero points. It’s a much different game if we don’t leave all those points on the table.
That being said, the Hornets, after an early stop and interception, could not find a way to pressure HSC quarterback Tanner Bernard, and slow down a running game that coming into the contest had averaged just 1.8 yards per carry. Even when the SU defense got some pressure on the senior signal-caller, he was able to roll out and find wide-open receivers in the Hornet zone. The Shenandoah defense was back on it’s heels the entire game. There are days like this…
This week it’s a bye week for Shenandoah, as they get ready for a familiar foe, the Bridgewater Eagles. These two teams should be very familiar with each other, as they played 3 times in the 5-game Spring schedule, 2 of which were won by BC in tight ball games. Like SU, the Eagles are 2-1, but 0-1 in the ODAC. With one less conference game on the schedule this year (Emory & Henry is no longer in the ODAC , although they will play the league’s teams as a non-conference playing partner), getting off to an 0-2 start in the ODAC would all but eliminate a team from championship contention. So, it’s a huge game against a rival, and it’s Homecoming at Shenandoah. Motivation should not be a problem. I would expect a much different Hornet team a week from Saturday at Shentel when Bridgewater invades the Sprint Field at 7pm.
To be successful, SU will need to turn the dead zone into the red zone.
Until October 2nd at 6:30 on The River 95-3, that’s it from The Booth. GO HORNETS!