Week 4 could present Mustang its toughest challenge thus far in 2016 as the Broncos open district-play against Owasso (1-2, 0-0) Friday at Bronco Stadium Friday.
Mustang, coming off a 36-24 loss to Stillwater last week, should be close to full strength with senior defensive starters Deontre Thomas and Darion Richards back after serving two-game suspensions.
It’s a different story for Owasso. The injury bug has bitten the Rams, who have lost D1-prospect Josh Proctor at safety and defensive lineman Connor Haff. Also, quarterback Troy Hudson is questionable with an ankle injury suffered early in the season.
Here’s what to watch for Friday:
The impact of Thomas and Richards on defense
Let’s put it this way – if Thomas and Richards were in the lineup last week against Stillwater, the Broncos likely win the game. Thomas, a Nebraska-commit, is one of the country’s best defensive linemen. The Pioneers likely don’t rack up over 300 rushing yards with him in the middle. Richards, one of the team’s most reliable defensive backs, likely doesn’t allow two fake-punt conversions.
With Thomas back, it stabilizes the front-seven and with Richards back, it solidifies the defensive backfield. They’ll be fresh, but will also be thrown to the fire against a stout Owasso offense. How they play could be a major factor in how well Mustang’s defense bounces back from last week’s loss.
More possessions offensively
Mustang struggled in time of possession last week against Stillwater, running just 45 plays from scrimmage. However, with Carlos Thomas (Jr.) at running back the Broncos can fix the problem.
Mustang is averaging 141.5 rushing yards per game behind Thomas, who has 344 yards and five scores. With a strong offensive line and a stout rushing attack, controlling the line of scrimmage is an easier task to handle. The Broncos should feature more balance as well with multiple injuries playing a factor in Owasso’s defensive backfield. Thomas should be a factor as well as Damian Close (Jr.), who has seven catches for 182 yards and two touchdowns in three games.
How Owasso attacks offensively depends on the health of Hudson at quarterback. He’s one of the state’s top passers and can hurt teams on the ground. If the Rams become one-dimensional, it plays into Mustang’s hands defensively, especially with two key starters back in the rotation.
Also, Owasso is missing Proctor not just at safety, but offensively as well. He has played receiver, running back and quarterback, leaving the Rams a major hole to fill.
Last year’s matchup
Everyone expected an offensive show last year, but the Broncos pulled out a 21-14 win based on defense and turnovers. The Broncos picked off Hudson once and forced two fumbles while limiting the Rams to just 269 total yards.
Look for much of the same this year. Mustang’s offense has shown explosiveness, however, the quality of opponent hasn’t matched what Owasso will bring. The Broncos have the weapons to light up the scoreboard, but consistency on defense wasn’t there last week. If the defense can turn things around, get off the field and get the ball in quarterback Brayden Garrett’s hands, Mustang could score in the 30s.
The Broncos have two, top-tier starters returning on defense. Owasso is missing two top-tier starters on the same side of the ball. Not a good sign for the Rams.
If Hudson can go for Owasso, it’s a good sign, but he won’t be 100-percent with a limp ankle. Also, Proctor is a huge loss. Mustang has an opportunity to make the Rams one-dimensional, which is a plus for Jeremy Dombek’s squad.
It will be lower scoring than expected, which plays into Mustang’s hands. The Broncos pull out a close win and start district-play with a win.
MUSTANG 28, OWASSO 24