Memphis Blast are bested in their home debut by the Huntsville Rockets
Memphis, Tenn.-After the highly anticipated home opener for the Memphis Blast, the crowd was electric as their hometown team took the field and the team shared that same positivity. However, that energy shifted as the game began and it seemed that the excitement the team exerted throughout the week was seemingly nonexistent.
The Blast was defeated 59-6 by the Rockets, but the worst part of the loss wasn’t the scoreboard, but the disheartened faces of the players. The young team had plays that showed why they had potential, such as the 86-yard touchdown run made by wide receiver turned quarterback, Markerion Johnson, in the fourth quarter. That wound up being their only touchdown of the game and the sole bright spot in an otherwise bleak performance.
But where did things go wrong? Well as a longtime spectator of the team and after spending a lot of time with them, there were clearly three areas that caused the most concern.
Run blocking loses its luster
In the Blast’s first two contests, it was clear that their offense was going to primarily feature the run. With power rushers on the roster such as Darrin Davis and Zachery Townsend and speedy players like the aforementioned Johnson and Martavious Hayslett, the team has had an abundance of athletes who could get yards on the ground.
They rushed for over 100 yards in each of their first two games and had at least two rushers who had a run of 15 or more yards. But when they took the field against the Rockets, their usually stout run game was stifled. If it weren’t for Johnson’s spectacular run towards the end of the game, the team would have finished with negative rushing yards rather than their earned 78.
It would be easy to blame this on the running backs and their inability to hit holes, but there were multiple occasions in the game where it looked as if the offensive line didn’t know what to do.
Poor tackling hurts Blast comeback efforts
Though by looking at the scoreboard, it would be easy to blame all of the team’s struggles on the defense, in most cases where the Rockets scored, they either did so on the Blast’s six turnovers or were put in good enough field position to score.
This isn’t making excuses for the still-evolving unit, but it’s what was the story of the game. These already extenuating circumstances were made worse by the unit’s poor tackling. There were many instances where plays could have been held to minimal gains, even stopped behind the line of scrimmage, but defenders were unable to wrap up.
Coming into this game, it was well-known that the Rockets’ roster was full of elusive players, but it seemed that it was almost too much to stop.
Preparedness of a team trumps talent
Following the game, quarterback Markerion Johnson spoke with Blast Media about his feelings about the game and what he felt caused the team to suffer the tough loss.
“We’re just not altogether with discipline,” Johnson said. “I still have all the faith in my team, and we will continue to get better. This week, we have to focus on our team chemistry and our communication on the field.”
There’s not much more that I could add to Johnson’s analysis because he’s correct. There were times when it seemed like the team hadn’t developed much chemistry at all, despite having practices since last fall.
Injuries, conflicting schedules, and constant roster changes have made it difficult for the team to all be on one accord, which translates onto the field during games.
This isn’t just noticeable to players, but fans alike who could easily detect the differences in the battling teams’ preparation for last Saturday’s game.
Will this be all the Blast are for the rest of the season? A team that’s full of talent but lacks the necessary discipline to capitalize on their raw ability?
Johnson told Blast Media that he doesn’t think so and a changing of the guard for the team could be coming much sooner than one would think.
“We’re only a game away from proving we’re a force to be reckoned with.” Johnson said.