Memphis Blast Come Up Short in Week One Rematch

by Raven Moore

          Memphis,TN-Hoping to end their one-game losing streak, the Memphis Blast had the opportunity to get their first official home win of the season if they could have defeated the Joplin Crusaders. The Crusaders were the Blast’ first opponents of the 2019 season and despite low numbers, Memphis was confident they could walk away with the victory.

            Unfortunately, it didn’t work out the way the team had hoped, and they were defeated 31-0. This game was their second in a row where they were held to no points. Still, despite the tough loss, the Blast have managed to keep their heads up and are looking forward to taking on the Starkville Steeldogs this Saturday in hopes of getting a confidence boosting victory.

            How does that happen though? Well if the team is able to build on these takeaways from this week’s game, they should have no problem earning a victory:

Get the ball in Derek Garner’s hands

            Over the course of the Blast’ season, they’ve suffered their fair share of key player departures. Probably the most painful of all was losing all-around athlete, Markerion Johnson who spent time at quarterback, wide receiver, cornerback and even played some punter in his three games with the team.

            Now after he went to pursue an opportunity to continue his college football career at Coahoma Community College, the Blast are searching for their next great playmaker. It didn’t take long for one to step up and it now seems that Derek “Dee” Garner is ready to take over the reins.

            Before showcasing what he could do offensively, he was one of the team’s top defensive backs and when he got on offense, his impact only grew. His first chances to see the field started at wide receiver and after proving to be one of the leagues most elusive pass catchers, his role became much bigger.

            He’s currently been taking snaps at quarterback with Johnson gone and has been solid in that role, especially when having to escape the pocket. He led the team with 52 rushing yards against the Crusaders.

            If head coach, Charles Thompson, can find ways to get Garner to get those snaps at wide receiver as well as running the ball, there’s no limit to what he will be able to accomplish as the Blast fight for a playoff spot.

Pass rush has to show up

            Many things could be said about Thompson’s coaching style, but one thing that cannot be disputed is his desire to have a strong pass rush. It’s been how he’s been running his defenses for the better part of two decades and he’s prided himself on how successful it’s proven to be.

But over the last three games, his defense has only been able generate one sack and has failed to force quarterbacks into bad situations. Without that pass rush, cornerbacks are being forced to be tasked with shadowing their receivers for exuberant amounts of time, which causes them to get tired easily.

With the team’s secondary still very much a work in progress, not having a pass rush is forcing the young group to grow up very quickly. There’s still time for the group to return to Thompson’s standards, but don’t be surprised if he begins looking for new talent to add who can help set the edge.