Memphis Blast vs. Joplin Crusaders Takeaways
Memphis Blast vs. Joplin Crusaders Takeaways
The Memphis Blast opened the 2019 regular season by traveling to face one of the newest additions to the GDFL, the Joplin Crusaders. Unfortunately for the Blast, they suffered a tough 35-6 loss and though it was a bit discouraging to the team, there were still many positives that took place in the game.
With the season now being in full swing, the Blast will have many opportunities to showcase the talent that has earned them preseason praise, but before they can focus on the future, they have to address their current state of being.
You can never have too many good quarterbacks
Quarterback Austin Boyles looked primed to have a big game to begin his Blast career, but fate had other plans. He went down with a back injury early in the second quarter and was unable to return.
That meant that Markerion Johnson had to leave his post as a starting wide receiver and get under center. Luckily for the Blast, Johnson was explosive at position and used his legs to help drive the team downfield. He had 129 yards from scrimmage and even scored the team’s lone touchdown of the game.
His performance earned him the vote of his team for the game’s offensive MVP.
When asked by Blast Media what he enjoyed the most about the game, Johnson highlighted the progression of his teammates.
“I really enjoyed watching the guys get better as the game went on,” said Johnson. “I felt that I played a good game. With me having to takeover at quarterback, I just wanted to help my team end the game on a positive note.”
Martavious Hayslett stepped in during the fourth quarter and looked good as a relief quarterback. Similar to Johnson he used his athleticism and natural ability to bring life into the offense and led all three quarterbacks in completion percentage with 57.
There is no word yet on when Boyles will be back, which allows Coach Thompson time to decide which player fits best in the starting spot. This isn’t to say that there’s a guarantee that a change will be made, but Boyles should know that the team has options.
Pass coverage is the biggest area of concern
What hurt the Blast defensively, was their ineffective pass coverage. Each of the Crusaders’ five touchdowns came through the air and four of them were for 20 or more yards.
This could be attributed to a number of things, but in speaking with veteran linebacker, Lawrence “Torpedo” Miller, it was because of blown assignments.
“As a team we had several blown assignments in coverage,” Miller said. “The tale of the tape shows that we gave up 14 points in the first half off of blown coverages.”
Another thing that should be taken into consideration was the inexperience at the position. Players like Brandon Kendall and Rod Hand hadn’t had much time at practice to work on pass coverage and essentially were thrown into the fire when it was game time.
The Blast have found their feature running back
One of the biggest questions heading into this game was who was going to be the Blast’s starting running back. The future of preseason starting running back, Zachery Townsend, had been in doubt and with not much depth at the position, wide receiver Brandon Kendall and middle linebacker Miller were tasked with trying to fill the role at practice.
But when former Whitehaven running back, Darrin Davis, stepped onto the practice field this week, it was clear that he was the right man for the job. In his Blast debut, the physical rusher led the team with 68 rushing yards and made his presence felt in the receiving game where he led all pass catchers with five catches.
Following the game, Davis spoke with Blast Media about his performance and expressed his gratitude to his teammates for giving him a chance.
“I want to thank my teammates for believing in me,” Davis said. “It’s a blessing to be back on the field playing the game that I love. For me to have stepped away for five years, but still perform the way that I did was a great feeling.”
This was a tough loss to open the season, but the Blast have plenty of games to play to right the ship. One thing this team has more than most is an intense passion to be on the field and be successful. With leaders on both sides of the ball to help the younger players hone in on their abilities, the Blast can’t be counted out of any game and are bound to do big things this season.
Outside linebacker and 10-year veteran Rod Hand said it best when he spoke with Blast Media about the game.
“We can easily blame the lose on the officials,” said Hand. “But we’re men and we should handle our business accordingly not put ourselves in these situations and stay disciplined on both sides of the ball.”