Leader Blues

Friday, August 22, 2008

SPORTS>>Bouncing back

By JASON KING
Leader sportswriter

Revenge has been the motto for the Arkansas Rhinos this week as they prepare to host the Memphis Panthers tonight at Red Devil Field. The two teams met back in mid-July, with the Panthers taking a 19-12 win on a late-game drive after Arkansas led most of the contest.

The Rhinos lost more than their first game on that night. Star running back Brennon Metcalf sustained a broken leg late in the first half, sidelining him for the rest of the year.

That caused a momentary lapse in the Rhinos’ offensive attack, as the Rhinos gained only 75 yards the following game against Nashville.

Head coach Oscar Malone said he thinks the offensive woes are behind them now, with the emergence of running back Jerald Marshall. Marshall led Arkansas with 194 yards rushing and the Rhinos’ only score of the game last week in a narrow 7-6 win over Tri-City Clarksville.

“We made some changes for last week, and it paid off with 300 yards of offense,” Malone said. “We’re going to make some more changes this week and see if we can’t get 400. Maybe I’m being a little greedy, but we want to try and put up as many points as we can.”

Most of that 360-plus yards came on the ground. QB Jeremiah Crouch was on the mark with his passing last week, but found only one consistent target in Kamal Broadway. Broadway pulled in all four Rhinos’ receptions, and Malone is looking to get more hands in the mix tonight.

He is looking to wide receivers Jamaal Pippins (6-2, 200) and Lance Smith (5-10, 190) to help out with some short-yardage passing, and said that tight end James Miles (5-10, 215) will contribute. Miles has had a great week of practice, according to Malone, and should be able to take some of the load off of Broadway.

Last week wasn’t all good news for the Rhinos. With a season-high number of penalties levied against them, several of which killed promising offensive drives, Malone not only made the team run all day Monday, he also dealt out three suspensions for the first half of the Memphis game tonight.

“We put out suspensions this week. We just don’t allow that kind of stuff,” Malone said. “They’ll sit out for the first half, and if that doesn’t work and they get hit again, they’ll be out for a game or two. They’ll get the message one way or another.”

Defensively, Memphis brings a 3-3-5 package that Malone said can be overcome with motion and misdirection. He also hopes that Marshall can repeat his superman performance from last week again today.

“I think he can go out and do it again,” Malone said. “His running has gotten better. We just need the guys up front blocking to do a little better job for him. Of course, a lot of those yards he got on his own.”

The Rhinos and Panthers will face off at 7:30 p.m. for military appreciation night at Red Devil Field. Admission will be $3 for all adults.