For the second week in a row, Newton’s game got cancelled after almost one full quarter of play against Westlake. This game was supposed to be the one to test Newton, and see if its two wins weren’t just wins because they were against weak competition. Although there was only a small sample size to judge from, as neither coach had the benefit of a halftime or end of a quarter to make adjustments, it was enough to see that the Rams are special. It was enough to make one believe that they can go down to Lowndes and win…again.
Watching the Rams on offense Friday, you probably saw about 60/40 pass run (even when Romario Johnson drops back, you have to account for his ability to run, so you never know).
At the receiver position, the Rams have Deandre Huff, Davonta Jones and JJ Holloman at their disposal. All three had at least one catch in the game. Jones finished with four catches for 55 yards. Huff caught two passes for 108 yards. All in just one quarter.
When they’re passing, it’s mostly short dinks and dunks, where the receiver picks up more YAC because the passes come out quick allowing the receiver to catch the ball in stride with enough space to get extra yards. Giving the Rams’ receivers any cushion is a mistake; then again it’s not.
The thing is, the short passes is how Newton lures defenders in. The Rams have the speed to go deep, so when the secondary comes up, the Rams are able to attack them deep with ease.
This was the case in Newton’s lone 71 yard touchdown pass from Johnson to Huff. The added weapon of having someone like Johnson who can move around in the pocket and take off without a moment’s notice, makes them even more dangerous.
If you rush four and lay back in coverage, Johnson can find creases in the defense to attack on the run. If you blitz, Johnson will look to get the ball out to one of his receivers, who can make plays after the catch. And it’s not just great playcalling, it’s also has a lot to do with Johnson’s good decision-making skills. Johnson doesn’t hold the ball too long, and the decisions he made on Friday moved the ball quickly and efficiently.
The offensive line is where Newton might have problems. High school football will never be perfect in terms of playing mistake-free football, no matter what Billy Bob Thornton tells you, there’s no such thing as being perfect.
The Rams don’t look very big in the trenches, but they’re not totally undersized to play the position. Staying disciplined will be Newton’s issue.
In Friday’s matchup, there were several holding calls on Newton’s first drive. After three consecutive successful passses, Newton found itself at the Westlake 47. However, two back-to-back holding calls led to a third and 40 that the Rams were somehow able to gain 37 yards on from a pass to Huff.
For the majority of the time, the offensive line won’t have to hold blocks for too long, since the Rams will look to get the ball out as fast as possible. When the Rams go deep, that’s when the line has the tendency to break down forcing Johnson out of the pocket (which happened a couple times on Friday).
On the defensive end, the Rams aren’t as stacked on defense like they are on offense. Forcing turnovers and creating pressure through scheme will be the Rams’ key to success. On Friday against Westlake, they were very successful on defense. The Rams allowed -1 yards for their quarter of play. Again, this is a small sample size, but it says a lot regarding the team’s potential.
Lowndes is a difficult team to face in an even more difficult environment. Newton beat them last year, which was head coach Terrance Banks’ first win as a head coach. The Rams will look to control the tempo, get the ball out to their playmakers and make Lowndes one-dimensional when they meet again on Friday.