Is Carroll for real?
Is Snider the team to beat in the SAC?
Does the Spuller Stadium turf feel as good as it looks?
All great questions heading into Week 2, with the headline game in the SAC taking place out at Spuller. Not only will there by action on the field, but Jessie Bates III will have his number officially retired during a ceremony at half.
A key early-season showdown in the city is the OTH Game of the Week, set to kick off at 7 p.m. on Friday.
1. WEEK 2 FLASHBACK
Snider is surely sick of hearing it by now, but what happened in last year’s 38-14 thrashing at the hands of Carroll in Week 2 remains a topic of conversation.
It is true that the Panthers got revenge in postseason play, but when an SAC stalwart is handed its worst league loss in 34 years, it becomes tough to forget.
The Chargers want to show that this group can do what last year’s did – show that Snider can be mortal. Meanwhile, the Panthers’ massive senior class is ready to completely erase all reminders to last year.
2. STILL QUESTIONS
The Panthers breezed past a North Side defense that did not put up much of a fight in Week 1. Snider was able to take the foot off the pedal by the end of the first quarter with the game well in control.
Because of that, we really didn’t see what Snider’s offense can do over an extended period of time at full strength. Jon Barnes Jr. could be in for a big year at QB with the receivers he has to throw to (welcome to the football field Dillon Duff), and Lenny Bennett has the speed to run away from Carroll DBs.
3. ROAD TEST FOR BECKER
After being able to settle in to the quarterback spot comfortably in Week 1, Carroll sophomore Jeffrey Becker will take on a fierce defensive front in his first road start of his career.
Gianini Belizaire is the headliner up front for the Panthers, but he has plenty of help with the likes of Isaiah Maxwell and Jalen Wiggins, who are also able to penetrate an offensive front and flush QBs out of the pocket.
Can Becker handle the pressure, make throws on the run and avoid turnovers?
FOUR PLAYERS TO WATCH
QB JEFFREY BECKER, SOPHOMORE, CARROLL
We circle back to Becker because he will be arguably the single most-important individual on the field on Friday. He really had all the time in the world to make his reads and make good decisions with the ball last week against an overmatched Bishop Luers defensive front. The protection is not going to be nearly as good this Friday against the Panthers.
Becker showed his ability to play above his age at the varsity level, but he must take that next step in Week 2. He must become quicker when scanning the route tree and making decisions, because he will feel the heat from Belizaire and Co. Limiting turnovers is a must.
WR DILLON DUFF, SENIOR, SNIDER
The hoopster was certain to be a mismatch at 6-foot-5 if he could handle the physicality of being a wide receiver on the gridiron. He showed there is nothing to worry about in that department with 73 receiving yards and a touchdown in Week 1.
Carroll’s defensive backs were scarcely challenged by Bishop Luers, but did pick off a trio of passes, one of which was returned for a score. How will they match up against Snider’s WR corps, and in particular, Duff?
DL LARRY SIBLE, SENIOR, CARROLL
Sible was a menace last week up front, finishing with five tackles, three TFL and a pair of sacks. The Chargers’ defensive front will likely not be able to penetrate with the frequency it was able to against Bishop Luers, but getting some pressure on Jon Barnes Jr. in the pocket is of paramount importance.
Sible’s job will be to seal that edge from ball carriers as well as put pressure in the backfield. If he and his d-line compatriots do that, Carroll’s chances of a win rise.
WR ALONZO DERRICK, SENIOR, SNIDER
Derrick has the potential to change a game anytime he touches the ball. He did it last week with a 75-yard touchdown on a pass from Jon Barnes Jr.
As Snider’s primary kick returner, he can also affect the game in that arena as well. The Panthers are so good at consistently winning the special teams battle against opponents. A key return here or a punt block there can be the difference between hanging around with Snider and things quickly getting out of hand.
Carroll must account for Derrick every time he is on the field.
KEYS TO VICTORY – CARROLL
1. PROTECT THE FOOTBALL
This is an obvious one, being that turnover differential is a key in every game at any level of football.
Carroll was a plus-two in turnover margin in last year’s Week 2 win over Snider. The one Chargers turnover came on the first pass of the game from Gaven Vogt, a pick by Jayshawn Underwood. After that, Carroll protected the ball well.
Coach Doug Dinan’s team needs a similar turnover margin on Friday.
2. WIN THE BATTLE UP FRONT
Snider may not have played its best game last year in Week 2, but there is no debating that Carroll whipped the Panthers in the trenches on both sides of the football.
The talk out of that game revolved around witnessing Snider getting pushed around at the point of attack, something rarely seen when playing against SAC teams.
Can the Chargers repeat that performance this year?
KEYS TO VICTORY – SNIDER
1. STRIKE EARLY
Carroll was able to take control against Bishop Luers from the outset last week, routinely driving down the field early in the game and setting the tone defensively with big hit after big hit.
We have yet to see the Chargers handle adversity on the scoreboard. Last year, the team seemed to deflate at times when it fell behind. How does the 2019 squad handle being down in a game?
If Snider can strike quickly, it puts Carroll on the defensive, where the pressure is put on the sophomore QB to match the Panthers on the scoreboard.
Five different Snider Panthers rushed for touchdowns last week, with 35 total carries interspersed between seven different players.
Blowout victories have the tendency to have such stats, with Snider dipping into its reserves relatively early in Week 1.
But the point remains that the Panthers once again have a plethora of guys who can tote the rock. Couple that with capable wide receivers and a quarterback that looks significantly better than his 2018 version and Snider looks to be able to be as balanced as it has in a few years between run and pass. Carroll must account for both on Friday, which can open up opportunities.