It’s never as good as it seems or as bad as it seems.
The popular cliché quote holds true and Robert E. Lee needs to keep it in mind when preparing this week for the annual Rose City Rivalry clash with John Tyler.
The numbers through two weeks show the good and bad for the Red Raiders.
First the good:
Lee rushed for 194 yards and two touchdowns Friday against Lufkin — Red Raiders lost 38-20 — after totaling 219 against third-ranked Euless Trinity — lost 30-7.
Led by senior Daleven Baker (18-116, 2 TDs), Lee has churned a combined 413 yards on the ground against two perennial playoff teams.
It’s been a four-man job as teams key on returning all-district rusher LaQuintas Wallace. The junior totaled 54 yards and a touchdown Friday against Lufkin and head coach Randy Huffstickler believes he’s rounding into form.
“LaQuintas is getting in shape and he’s got great vision,” Huffstickler said. “He likes to try to run the edges and we need to get him up into the line of scrimmage and then let him bounce it outside. I thought he did that on his touchdown; he kind of stretched it and then all of a sudden went North and South and got in (the end zone).”
The Red Raider defense has allowed a combined 214 yards passing in their two games while the offense has taken advantage of both turnovers the defense forced, scoring touchdowns on the ensuing drives. On special teams, Lee punter Austin Martel is averaging 40.6 yards per kick.
Now, the bad:
Lee has turned the ball over three times in two games, not including a punt hitting a blocker in the back. The opposition has scored 24 points on those miscues. The Red Raiders have spotted the opposition leads of 30-0 and 17-0 before answering with points of their own.
Back to the good:
The Red Raiders improved their red zone offense in Friday’s loss to the Panthers. A week after scoring seven points with three drives deep in opposition territory, Lee scored touchdowns on three of four opportunities against Lufkin.
The bad: Lee’s defense has been on the field for 18 series. Of those, the opposition has put points on the board for 11 of them. That is also taking into account Lufkin missing two field goals.
In Friday’s game alone, Lufkin’s offense was on the field for 67 plays.
“We can’t play that many snaps on defense against a team that good,” Huffstickler said. “Our other defense is a good offense.”
Lee is 4 for 18 on third-down conversions and giving up big returns on punts and kickoffs.
The good: Lee quarterback Joseph Seeber rebounded from a season opener to forget (6 of 14 for 38 yards and two interceptions) to bounce back and complete more than 50 percent of his pass attempts against Lufkin (7 for 13) with no interceptions, highlighted by a 34-yard touchdown strike.
The bad: The Red Raiders were held to 33 yards rushing in the first half Friday against Lufkin with five first downs.
The good: Lee rolled up 161 on the ground in the second half totaling 13 first downs.
“I think we went in (at halftime) and decided that we need to establish what we do,” Huffstickler said. “We didn’t change the game plan at halftime. I can promise you that Lufkin didn’t give up. We came out and moved the ball against a good defense.”
Huffstickler believes a continued strong running game will help open up the passing game that much more.
“I thought Aneas had some good holes, I thought Marcus had some good holes and I thought Joe threw the ball well,” Huffstickler said following Friday’s loss. “I think he was above 50 percent I am sure. That is what we need to do. Play-action to do that and then let LaQuintas get to the outside or (Baker) to get the outside. That’s the way our offense is built right now.”
The bad: The Red Raiders are in danger of beginning a season 0-3 for the third-straight year.
The good: A win for Lee will mean a 1-2 record, positive mojo entering its road trip to The Woodlands and move the Red Raiders within a game of tying the all-time series (26-28-1) with the rival Lions.