By Ron Clemons
Editor’s Note: True To The Cru is joined by UMHB alum Ron Clemons for this column covering UMHB football’s win over Southwestern this past Saturday.
BELTON, Texas- As a proud UMHB alumnus, avid sports fan and long-time Cru football season ticket holder who relishes the X’s and O’s, strategies and tactics, and remarkable on-field feats of division three college student-athletes, I take great pleasure in watching, analyzing, and dissecting detailed aspects of each game. And, like many fans, I enjoy exchanging insights with other Cru football fanatics, playing armchair quarterback, and following the program closely as it strives to build on its great legacy of success. With that said, here are a few of my observations and thoughts from the latest game against Southwestern.
Disruptive Defense – The ‘21 UMHB defense held true to the Cru legacy of being downright nasty. The new scheme seems to have remedied the problem in 2019 of consistently not setting the edge against the run. That has resulted in wreaking even more havoc in the opponent’s backfield. Interior linemen consistently penetrated the line of scrimmage, blew up run plays and forced Southwestern quarterback Landry Gilpin to throw early, scramble or take a sack. Linebackers joined the party in the Pirates’ backfield through a variety of stunts and blitzes, and proved to be very quick to the ball. It will be interesting to see how this translates against higher-ranked opponents in the future.
One vulnerability that showed up was Southwestern’s tight ends and wide receivers sneaking out on delayed routes up the middle and getting behind the Cru secondary. Fortunately, pressure up front caused Gilpin to misfire and fail to cash in on these opportunities. This is an area the UMHB coaching staff is sure to address this in practice this week.
Offensive Firepower – This season’s combined wide receiver corps has it all—elite speed, the ability to create separation and superior size. In the mix are a couple of rangy receivers, each with a big catch radius and ability to high-point balls thrown out of opposing defensive backs’ reach. On Saturday, 6’6” wideout Brandon Jordan exploited his size advantage, twice snagging “jump balls” for touchdowns. Additionally, the Cru’s small speedsters repeatedly found open space, turned short throws into significant gains and blew by Southwestern’s defensive backs. Unfortunately, several big opportunities were missed as the quarterbacks and receivers struggled to connect at times. Expect plenty of explosive plays in the days ahead as they find their rhythm. To add to the Cru’s embarrassment of riches, speedy wide receiver, Caleb Eagans, is expected to be in action next week after being held out previously to recover from an injury, adding even more punch and depth to this talented group.
The Cru also proved to have a dynamic quarterback duo in Tommy Bowden, who made several impressive runs, and Kyle King, who threw the ball with pinpoint accuracy. Both quarterbacks played a key role in UMHB’s 52-point performance, as King had three touchdowns, two on the ground and one through the air, while Bowden tallied two passing touchdowns. This presented the Pirates with problems they were unable to solve. UMHB’s running backs also generated significant production with a one-two combination of Melek Hamilton, a shifty and elusive runner, and Montana Miller, a power back who made a habit of breaking tackles and plowing over defenders. Miller also showed an ability to find and hit holes quickly and make defenders miss in space.
Killer Kicking – As if dealing with all the weapons mentioned above wasn’t enough for the Pirates, the Cru’s kicking game was stellar too. In addition to UMHB record-holding kicker, Anthony Avila, being “Mr. Automatic” on 7 PATs and a 42-yard field goal, he also limited Southwestern’s kick returns with an array of directional kicks, fair catches and touchbacks. And to make it that much harder on the Pirates’ offense, punter Brandon Cunningham repeatedly pinned them back inside their own 20-yard line with booming kicks. Although the coaches don’t want to have to rely too much on the kicking game, it’s a big plus having top level talent on special teams.
Disclaimer – Opinions are my own and are not sanctioned by UMHB or the Cru football program. With game film unavailable for review, in-depth analysis and verification of real-time observations is limited.