Good evening and welcome to the FFL blog, week 5 monday version. This edition sees a slight change in that there will be some stats from the games I was at. You might wonder why I hadn’t included stats before, and this was because I wasn’t taking stats before. So what was I writing down at the games before this then? Well, I could tell you but I’d have to kill you.. Anyway, let’s go to work.
Game One – Limburg Shotguns 26, Gent Gators 6
As you may well know, this was my first experience with the Limburg Shotguns, and what an experience it was! High flying excitement on offense and hard nosed defense. If you haven’t seen them play yet, trust me, they are a team to be reckoned with, and they’ll have some sort of say in the make up of the playoffs this year.
QB Saffo had a dominating performance, helped ably by his solid offensive line, allowing him the time to find his receivers, most notably WR Oyen, who finished with a mind boggling 9 catches for 151 yards and 3 TDs (all 3 in the first half). Gent were simply unable to keep him under control at all, good downfield blocking springing him for touchdowns of 31, 14 and 30 yards.
I’d said last week that sometimes Gent looked like they had less than 11 players on the field, but that turned into reality for a while with the Gators only having 10 on defense for a few plays. From an organisational point of view, the Gators never looked like they were with it, which is never good when you’re playing against someone who always has everything under control. That someone is Limburg coach/RB/LB Chase Curren (3/6 passing, 32 receiving yards, 29 rushing yards, 9 tackles – how is that for a well rounded game?), and despite all those numbers, perhaps his best work is done before the snaps – always talking to his team, making sure everyone knows what is going on at all times.
Gent’s running game never got going at all. They had much more success in the air, but lost QB Van Melder to a wrist injury, fortunately the Gators have a rather good back-up in Kim Jolie. QB Jolie hit WR Depreitere (6 catches, 73 yards) several times, and eventually found WR Phillipé on a crossing pattern to at least break the shutout.
Just before this though, QB Saffo had put the finishing touches on an outstanding day, high-stepping it 61 yards through the Gators defense to the house.
So in the end, the Shotguns had racked up 358 yards of total offense (10.3 per play) compared to 168 for the Gators (who also had 74 penalty yards).
Game Two – Antwerp Diamonds 35, Leuven Lions 0
Sometimes the scoreboard lies in football games, we’ve seen several examples of that this season already. This one, however, was very accurate, and I think just one statistic would be enough to prove that. Total offensive yards : Diamonds 366, Lions 59.
It would be fair to say that the Diamonds were all over the Lions, and right from the opening whistle. First quarter touchdowns to RBs Borra and Smet made it 14-0, where it stayed right up until half time. The Lions were able to hold the Diamonds for a while, but never managed to get going on offense and never threatened a comeback. The final quarter was all Antwerp, a 10-yard catch by TE Verhelst (7 catches, 92 yards), a 45-yard scamper by QB Keymolen (8-19, 95 passing yards and 103 on the ground) and a 1-yard dive by RB Vervaet.
Leuven’s cornerbacks would have a great game, with no catches allowed to Antwerp wide receivers. Lions DE Janssens and LB Grenson had big games too, with 17 tackles between them, but Leuven’s front seven were just run all over by the dominating offensive hogs of the Diamonds.
I’d said at the start of the year that I didn’t know what the Lions identity was and I’m still not sure – they don’t seem to have a lot in the way of continuity, each time I see them they have a different backfield and receivers, and this is clearly not helping them.
I’d just like to take a moment and tell you all something terrible. On a rush by Antwerp, Lions player Christophe Tesseur ended up with an extremely nasty broken leg and was taken away in an ambulance. There was certainly nothing dirty about the play, it was hard to see what happened but there was a bit of a crowd of players and I guess someone fell onto his leg. I’m sure I speak for everyone in the FFL by wishing you all the best in your recovery.
Game Three – Brussels Black Angels 19, Bornem Titans 6
Good news for the Titans as starting QB Rochtus was back in the line-up, allowing TE D’Hondt to get back to his usual position. But it wasn’t really useful as the Titans’ offensive line was swamped by Angels blitzers, and Rochtus looked somewhat out of practice, which, of course, he was.
The Titans pass defense was great, taking 3 picks (2 by LB Van Hauwaert and 1 by S Steenbeke), but it was the Angels running game which controlled things.
My associate Klaas (thanks again, Klaasman!) got a bit caught up in traffic around Gent (as did I when going to Antwerp) so there’s not a lot of detail about this game. Most important thing to remember is that the Angels running game is back.
Game Four – West Flanders Tribes 26, Brussels Bulls 22
There was a bit of excitement at the end of this one, a Bulls long touchdown pass in the final minutes brought them to within 4 points, but the onside kick was recovered by the Tribes and this time they were able to run out the clock and hang on for yet another victory.
A nice run got things started for the Bulls, who were answered by the Tribes through WR Gancharov, Tribes lead 7-6. The Bulls certainly weren’t intimidated and took the lead back with another touchdown, but again the Tribes hit back, this time on the ground and it was 14-13 at the half.
Bulls QB Fogarty kept encouraging his teammates, and it paid off, especially the offensive line who had a brilliant game, dominating the line of scrimmage with a string of beautiful blocks. Unfortunately for the Bulls it only created a field goal, but that gave them the lead 16-14 at the start of the final quarter. In the end, the difference maker was Tribes RB George, rushing for two touchdowns including a long run, which turned out to be the game winner, to put the Tribes up 26-16.
The Bulls would score the final touchdown but it wasn’t enough. Yet again the Bulls would make life extremely difficult for one of the top teams. It’s only a matter of time before they figure out how to win against quality opponents, and when they do, the rest of the league had better watch out.
Here come the updated rankings. Tribes are way ahead, which is logical as they’re our last undefeated team (again). Mighty close between second and sixth though.
1 – West Flanders Tribes (3-0-0) : 3000
2 – Brussels Black Angels (2-1-1) : 1913
3 – Bornem Titans (3-1-0) : 1751
4 – Antwerp Diamonds (2-2-0) : 1580
5 – Brussels Bulls (1-2-1) : 1386
6 – Limburg Shotguns (1-1-0) : 1328
7 – Gent Gators (1-3-0) : 336
8 – Leuven Lions (1-4-0) : 0
Players of the week
Shotguns QB Saffo. 10-17, 139 yards, 3 td, 2 int, 133 rushing yards and 1 td. He even managed to find time to collect an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and steam off the field. By the way, I was so almost right with my prediction – Gent and Limburg combined for 48 pass attempts.
Diamonds QB Keymolen. May have set some sort of record by fumbling 4 snaps, but made up for it by his great game. Showed some great poise in the pocket at times, and his speed is not to be underestimated.
Shotguns LB/RB/coach Curren. Not only for his brilliant game which I have already talked about, but also for going with the spread passing game. 4 WRs are proving rather difficult to deal with, and throw in a couple of option plays and you’ve got confused defenses.
Stat of the week
Antwerp had a staggering 70 offensive plays against Leuven. 51 were runs, for a total of 271 yards.
Ten thoughts I think I think
1 – I think I enjoyed the football on Sunday. Might have been nicer to have some closer games but that’s the way it goes.
2 – I think it’s funny how many people don’t seem to realise that I speak Dutch. So to all those people who I heard today talking about me amongst themselves (things like – “Is that the guy who’s writing the blog?”), I understood you! Still, it’s nice to be recognised, I suppose.
3 – I think I can describe the Diamonds passing game in two words – “Y out”. Funny how it works, time after time after time.
4 – I think Gators S Polfliet should be thankful he didn’t get more seriously injured than just being winded, because leading with your head like that is not going to lead anywhere good.
5 – I think I should have mentioned Limburg S Ruiz’s 3 interceptions and Gent WR/S Depreitere’s 2 picks. Sometimes I get a bit carried away with the offense and not give credit where it’s due to the D.
6 – I think up until yesterday morning I was 99% settled on the wide receivers for the All-FFL team. But then I saw Limburg’s WR Oyen and now I’m not so sure any more!
7 – I think the number of special teams bloopers on Sunday was unbelieveable. Don’t punt returners understand that they don’t have to down the ball? Going offside on a kickoff? Football is a game of field position, people, and it’s special teams that get you good or bad field position.
8 – I think it’s about time that the field of the Diamonds was re-laid. That field has more humps than a paddock full of camels*.
9 – I think it has been a long time since an offensive line dominated against the Tribes like the Bulls did on Sunday. Just shows you that the boys from West Flanders can find a different way to win each weekend, even if they don’t particularly deserve it.
10 – I think these are my non-FFL thoughts of the week
– The Australian rules football season begins Thursday. Trying to do better in the pick’em competition than my 6th (out of 51) last year. Anyway, I’m just happy that the footy is back! Check it out on Eurosport if you get the chance.
– Been watching a lot of college basketball lately on TV. Well, it’s March so there’s not much else on, I suppose.
– Just finished the book “Blood, Sweat and Chalk”. Brilliant book about how the formations and systems of football have evolved over the last 80 or so years. I enjoyed every page of it.
– I downloaded one of those free applications for my iPad where you have to look after a virtual dog. The kids love it, and it’s not too annoying (so far).
Quote of the week
“I have a quote for your blog – ‘coach Roman is very frustrated ‘ “, by coach Roman. It was one of those days for the Gators.
March 27 – Leopoldsburg
13:00 – Antwerp Diamonds (14) v Limburg Shotguns (19) – 03:59 left in first half
So that’s just about all there’s time for today. Thursday will be half a preview about the half game on Sunday, your mailbag, and a look back at the first half of the season. Until next time.
* Australians just love similies. I think my favourite is “more fun than a slap in the face with a cold fish”.