UWF Football: 4 keys previewing the Argos' first true road test at West Georgia
After two consecutive nail-bitters at home, the 10th-ranked Argos hit the road for what could be another down-to-the-wire game against No. 16 West Georgia.
The Gulf South Conference game is set for 6 p.m. EST Saturday at University Stadium in Carrollton, GA. The Argos and the Wolves both enter the game with 3-1 record, with each having dropped a conference game.
The two teams have split the six contests in this series, with either team yet to win at home. Last year, West Georgia traveled to Blue Wahoos Stadium and pulled out a 30-26 victory.
"Hopefully this trend continues, that would great for us (laughing)," UWF head coach Pete Shinnick said. "If you look at the series, the first game we played against them, they killed us. We won two very tight ones in '17. In '18, they did a great job at our place to beat us and in '19, it was a torrential downpour. And then last year, it was a four-point game."
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Half of the games in this series have been decided by one score. All things are seemingly trending that way for Saturday.
The West Georgia offense has averaged 35 points per game this season on a balance attack. The Wolves are putting up 186.5 rushing yards and 245.3 passing yards a contest. On the other side of the field, their defense has given up only 13.3 points per game while only allowing 94.3 yards through the air, but 155.5 yards on the ground.
Plenty of targets
Spreading the wealth offensively in the passing game, UWG senior starting quarterback Harrison Frost isn't reliant on just one weapon. That has made it tougher for the Wolves to game plan against.
"Our defense has to be dialed in and focused more on where the ball is going versus who it is going too," Shinnick said. "One of the things their offense does really well is take what the defense gives them. Even if it is a guy that hadn't caught the ball all game, (Frost) will throw it to him if he is open."
This season, Frost has completed 55 percent of his passes for 920 yards with seven touchdowns. Each of his scoring passes has gone to a different receiver.
Wide receivers, tight ends, and running backs are all targets through the air. Eight players have recorded at least five catches, with targets totaling at least 100 yards this season. Zay Britt paces the team with 12 catches for 142 yards.
Meanwhile, Zion Custis and Jaxton Carson lead the way on the ground. Custis has 44 carries for 274 yards rushing and two touchdowns. Carson has put up 247 yards rushing on 50 carries and a team-best six scores.
Argos must continue to run the ball
The rushing attack has been a key element to UWF's success to this point.
Shomari Mason has continued his dominance on the ground. The lead back has 60 carries with 515 yards rushing and five total touchdowns (four rushing). Ra'veion Hargrove has thrived in his backup role, contributing 254 yards rushing and one score.
Gaining chunks running the ball is beneficial for various reason, chief among them is keeping a great UWG pass rush honest. The Wolves have combined for 34 sacks this season, with four players recording at least three sacks already. They are led upfront by defensive lineman Mason Huntley and Malcolm Mercer, who have 3.5 sacks apiece.
Defense must provide pressure
In the first half of last week's win, the West Florida defensive line barely provided any pressure against North Greenville quarterback Dylan Ramirez. The same issue arose in the team's loss to Delta State two weeks ago.
The Argos finished both games with just one sack.
Their secondary forced two turnovers against North Greenville, including a late-game interception by defensive back Anthony Johnson Jr., which set up a walk-off field goal by Griffin Cerra.
"The last two weeks taught us that we could stop anybody when we put our mines to it," Johnson Jr. said. "We have to get our minds right, follow our scheme."
Late-game situational football
UWF has the advantage of playing tough conference games in back-to-back weeks, rallying from double-digit fourth-quarter deficits on each occasion. The result was different in each case, but the Argos now have reps in tight games after two blowouts to open the season.
After last year's game came down to the end, those close experiences recently may provide the Argos an advantage in what should be another competitive showdown.
Greg Hollis is a sports reporter for the Pensacola News Journal. He can be reached at email@example.com.
This article originally appeared on Pensacola News Journal: UWF Football: Argos hit the road for GSC test at West Georgia