08 – Thursday Mailbag

Thursday has rolled around yet again, and in FFL-land, that means it’s time for your mailbag and couple of previews of the upcoming games. Let’s go to work.

Games this weekend

@ Berendrecht – 12:00 – Brussels Black Angels (0-0) v Leuven Lions (1-0)

Since 2000 : Black Angels 10, Lions 1

Last match : March 14, 2010 – @ Anderlecht – Black Angels 23, Lions 0

The Black Angels have traditionally owned the Lions, their 10-1 mark since 2000 is the second best record for any team against any other (Tribes are 9-0 against the Gators in the same period), but could all that be about to change?

Leuven played very solid football against the Gators without being spectacular. Their offensive line was strong and their receivers and backs showed great speed. Defensively, they held everything in front of them (not hard, I suppose, when your Free Safety lines up 30 yards off the line of scrimmage), and generated lots of pressure on the Quarterback through DE Erwin Janssens and LB Kristof Grenson in particular. However, doing the same against the Angels is a whole different kettle of fish*.

On the other hand, the Angels have their own problems. Starting QB Francis Njufom is still in doubt as to whether he can start the game, and even if he does start, it’s a larger doubt if he can finish. Back-up QB Bart Killens will certainly see playing time, but when and for how long? All this uncertainty can’t be good for the mentality of the players and the stability of the team.

Fortunately, the Angels can rely on other strengths. Their defense is as strong as ever and big things are expected from the Linebacking core. On the offensive side of the ball, expect the Angels coaches to get the ball out of their QB’s hands quickly, either by running or shorter passes – look for TE Bart Meys and FB/TE Rashidi Banza to be involved.

The loss of CB Lawrence Flessie (better known as Law) can hurt the Angels, although he’s likely to be replaced by the returning ‘Oshe’, though does anyone on the Angels defense have the speed to handle the most electrifying player on the field last Sunday, Lions WR Owusu Sakyi-Gyinae?

I still like the Angels to get it done, but it won’t be easy with their current instability. Leuven should be able to, at the very least, make a close game of it.

@ Berendrecht – 15:00 – Antwerp Diamonds (1-0) v Bornem Titans (0-0)

Since 2000 : Diamonds 4, Titans 2

Last match : 14 March 2010 – @ Berendrecht – Titans 47, Diamonds 0

Let’s be honest, the Diamonds are very good at what they do. They commonly line up in a Wishbone formation, and you know that they’re planning to smash it up the middle. Question is – can you stop them? The Bulls couldn’t early, then had a better middle part of the game, before QB Keymolen took over the game with his legs late.

And this is exactly why I liked what Antwerp did against the Bulls. It wasn’t just smashmouth football, like old times. There was also the occassional touch of flair, just a hint of expression. Whether it was the QB bootlegging or TE/FB/RB Michael Vervaet lining up and getting the ball from anywhere, there was just enough variation to keep the defense on their toes. But Antwerp’s offense are going to have to bring something else against Bornem, and that’s a passing game. Unfortunately that’s something I didn’t see last week. QB Keymolen is going to have to show that he can pass against a quality secondary, as well as run against it.

The Titans will be out to show everyone that they deserve to be mentioned as a top team to take the Belgian Bowl home in June, and what better way to do that than to beat your rival on their home field in this year’s Battle of Antwerp?

It’ll be up to Bornem’s offensive line to control the Antwerp defensive hogs and get through to the Linebackers, creating openings for their backs. If the O-Line are able to do that, then there will be no stopping the Titans. I’ll be interested to see what Bornem are able to do with their aerial attack, and if they can generate a few big plays with their speed.

Man vs Machine

This is the section where both I, and my computer, will be making our predictions and we’ll just see who’s smarter (for various reasons, I actually hope the computer is). Anyway, the computer isn’t making any sense at all yet because not all teams have played a game, and I’m not making any sense because I was totally wrong last week!

Anyway, this week, I have :

Black Angels by 9, Titans by 24

Mailbag

Bart Killens, Wetteren

I want to thank the Gators for hosting the games in a nice stadium with great view! It is really more fun to watch a game like that. How will you fix that Sunday in Antwerp? Maybe you might want to bring some ladders, rope and a chair to make some sort of “volleyball-referee-chair”

I will be bringing a couple of chairs and a table, but that’s because I want to try tailgating in the car park before the games!

Coach Andy Brutyn, Ostend

“Had a nice time with you (at the games in Gent) Dale, between the freezing my hands off, taking notes and remembering crazy football memories”

Memories indeed, and we didn’t even talk about the two point conversion in Ostend against the Angels! Shouldn’t mention that too much, people will start to think I’m biased!

Christophe Olenaed, Leuven

“Hi Dale, always a breeze reading your blog! Nice to see people look further into the game than just as a spectator, and do their best in providing an analytical perspective into the games being played. Of course, we’re especially looking forward to more of thoughts and impressions on the Lions. And to the rest of you, keep on trucking ;)”

Well, I’ll have some more thoughts about the Lions at about 2:15pm on Sunday after their game against the Angels. It’s up to you guys to make sure that they’re good thoughts!

Coach Harve Heuvicq, currently Mombasa, Kenya

“What a great way to keep in touch with the Belgian football scene now that I’m abroad. Ozzie sense of humor to boot!”

You can take the guy out of Australia but never Australia out of the guy – that’s a fact! But thanks Coach, glad you’re enjoying it.

Outro

Like I mentioned, I think I’m going to try tailgating for a while (not with a BBQ, of course, the Diamonds will have their own). Feel free to join me, everybody, I don’t want to be all alone in the car park! Should be around 11:00 by the time I get there. That’s all for now, see you on all Sunday.

* ‘A different kettle of fish’ is an Australian phrase. You guys have a similar meaning, though not as funny sounding, expression – ‘Een andere paar mouwen’

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