I’m not going to waste time with a big intro, let’s go to work.
Antwerp Diamonds 14, Puurs Titans 8
I’m thinking that my prediction for this game was just about as dismal as the weather during it. Full credit goes to the Diamonds, however, who deserved to walk away with the victory, despite trailing in virtually every statistical category (total yards 178-139, third down conversions 5/12 – 3/11. You see that although stats can be fun, the game is really won with blocking and tackling).
New/old Diamonds QB Borra didn’t have brilliant numbers passing the ball (4-9, 42 yards, 1 td to WR Wauters), but he snuck in what would turn out to be the game winner from 1-yard away in the third quarter, and, in fairness, should have had at least one more score as last years’ All-FFL TE Verhelst dropped what was a sure touchdown in the first quarter.
The Diamonds D might not have been brilliant in stopping the run but their pass coverage was right on, only allowing 9 yards through the air and S Van Der Aa leading the way with 6.5 tackles, and their defensive line could get good pressure on Titans QB D’Hondt. Their biggest lapse happened on a punt return, and if there’s one player in the FFL you don’t want to give a bit of room on a return, it’s Titans WR Vermeir, who took the ball 43 yards to the house (although to be honest, he was out of bounds at about the 2-yard line, but hey, it’s the officials call that counts). A two-point conversion had the Titans up 8-7 at the half.
Titans RB Lagae rushed for a massive 154 yards in conditions which got worse as the game went on, but they lacked any sort of variety in their offense which played right into the hands of the Diamonds.
We also shouldn’t forget that the Titans killed themselves with penalties (11 for 70 yards), but it wasn’t just the yards lost in penalties, but the yards that were lost when plays were called back (including a 40-yard run by RB Lagae and a catch for a first down – on the next play, QB D’Hondt’s pass was intercepted by LB Borra).
The Titans will have to go back to the drawing board and prepare themselves to face Gent next weekend, whereas the Diamonds are at home to Limburg.
Brussels Black Angels 2, Leuven Lions 0
I think that this was even a stranger score than the first game. I thought for all the world that the Angels would come out smokin’ and run all over the Lions, but they just couldn’t manage it. They started well, LB Fiquet smashing Lions RB T’Jonck on the first play which I thought would set the tone for the whole game, but it didn’t.
Honestly, I never really felt that the Lions could win (Leuven gained just 46 yards in the game, compared to 181 for the Angels), and yet, they actually had a shot, when QB Baete’s pass to WR Sakyi-Gyinae fell incomplete in the endzone in between two defenders. Perhaps I’m just too used to seeing the Angels mow people down, and was waiting for it to happen yet again.
But the Lions defense were just too good to let it happen, LBs Caelenberghe and Schmitt leading the way with 14.5 tackles, 1 pick and 1 sack between them. The Angels found some success at the end of the game with RB Jackson (13 rush, 62 yards) over the middle, but the game was over before they could take a shot at the endzone. Brussels were clearly missing a few players, RBs Banza and El Batti amongst them, but which team doesn’t have injuries?
The Lions offense looked a little out of sync at times, but you get that when learning a new playbook. QB Baete completed 10 passes, but threw for just 21 yards, although that’s also due to the strength of the Angels on the defensive side of the ball.
I think that the Lions defense are going to disturb a few teams this year. It’ll just be a matter of working on that offensive playbook and then watch out. Can I just say how fantastic it is that I can say things like this? Antwerp played well, Leuven played well.. Making my top 5 has never been so difficult!
The Angels have a week off to sort themselves out going forward, meanwhile the Lions head to St-Agatha to face the Bulls in their opening game.
Quote of the week
“I said it was going to stay 2-0! What do I get if I’m right?” – Titans RB Mathias Lagae, with about 2 minutes left in the Angels – Lions game. Of course, the answer is that you win the quote of the week!
C’Mon Man of the week
The Brussels Black Angels had a 1st-and-10 from the Leuven 24 yard line. Their first down play was an attempted pass which led to a sack, however there was a chop block and spiking the ball against the Angels on the play. Result – 30 yards in penalties, setting up a 1st-and-40. This play was an incomplete pass. Their second down was too, but one of their offensive linemen got called for illegal hands to the face (or something), leading to another 15 yard penalty, leaving the Angels with a 2nd-and-55! 2nd-and-55? C’Mon man!
Stat of the week
In the first half of Angels vs Lions, not one single play was run in Angels territory. The score was 0-0 at half time.
The FFL “Insert your brand here” Player of the week
As voted on “The FFL Blog Extra”, Leuven LB Jan Caelenberghe is the player of the week, for his 8 tackle (tying the FFL season high), 1 interception performance in the Lions 2-0 loss against the Black Angels, so congratulations to him!
1 – Brussels Bulls (0-0) 0.883
2 – West Flanders Tribes (1-0) 0.783
3 – Brussels Black Angels (1-1) 0.550
4 – Antwerp Diamonds (1-0) 0.367
5 – Puurs Titans (1-1) 0.200
We finally get to see the Bulls play this weekend, so we’ll just see if they deserve to have the number one spot. The Diamonds move into the top 5 for the first time ever at #4, the Titans drop one spot to #5 and the Gators fall out of the top 5.
For those interested, my picks for the top 5 are actually in the same order as the overall rankings (no, I’m not just ignoring everyone else when adding them up!). I found it tough to leave out the Lions after their performance, I guess I’d just like to see a little more out of their offense.
March 11, St-Agatha
12:00 – Gent Gators v #5 Puurs Titans
15:00 – #1 Brussels Bulls v Leuven Lions
March 11, Berendrecht
14:00 – #4 Antwerp Diamonds v Limburg Shotguns
What to watch for
I’ll be in St-Agatha, and I’m looking forward to seeing the Gators and Bulls, who are the last teams to open their season. Also I want to see how the Titans react to their performance on Sunday, and if the Lions can make improvements to their offense. Actually, they’re going to be two fascinating games. Can we have a few less penalties, please?
They’re predicting good weather for the weekend, so get out and support your team! Until next time