Column: Why Oxford
Oxford is the highest ranked 3-win team on every list. In most cases, a 3-2 record wouldn’t be very impressive to most voters nor very convincing to most fans. At first glance, you may wonder about all of the hype surrounding this team.
Their losses came at the hands of Madison Central (#8) and Starkville (#2) respectively. They have only been controlled offensively by Starkville who held them to a season low of 7points. In every other contest, they have scored 29 points or more with their highest score of 50 coming last week against West Point. To a guy trained in college football analysis (self-trained of course), the strength of schedule makes up for their shortfalls. The losses came at the hands of quality teams who are contenders themselves. However, unlike the CPF committee, the record won’t dismiss the Chargers. They have just opened up division play with a dominant win and are hot at the perfect time. So, the remaining question is not why are they highly ranked, it’s why are they going to win the state championship?
OFFENSE OFFENSE OFFENSE
The Chargers’ offensive unit is a force to be reckoned with. They have unreal talent and experience across the board. The top examples being Jack Abraham and DeKaylin Metcalf who are both D1 level recruits. Abraham is in his 4th year starting at quarterback. He has committed to Tulane and just might be the best quarterback in Mississippi. Through five games, his stat line follows: 1,612 yards passing, 322.4 yards per game, 14 touchdowns, 2 interceptions, and a total QBR of 156.3. He has a stout offensive line that gives him plenty of time to pick apart defenses and heave ridiculous passes (current longest: 79 yards). In his last game, he had three touchdown passes of 50 yards or more. This guy controls the offense, avoids mistakes, and makes play after play.
He has a great receiving core around him (three guys with over 300 yards receiving) with the crown jewel being Metcalf. He can really do it all, including defense. He has imposing size (6’3’’/ 192 lbs.) and strength, which always gives him a mismatch. Also, he can run the ball and return kicks for impressive all-purpose yards. He is involved with pretty much every play either side of the ball. The only thing I haven’t seen this guy do is complete pass, which I’m sure he is capable of. His stat line through five games follows: 24 catches, 354 yards receiving, 372 all-purpose yards, 74.4 yards per game, 3 touchdowns, and 5 tackles.
THE UNSUNG HEROES
The high-powered offense steals a lot of the spotlight averaging 30.4 points per game. However, this defense is no pushover. They pitched a shutout in their first game against Southaven. They allowed a season high of 31 points to Madison Central and on average only allow 20 points per game. The defense averages 101 tackles per game and has accumulated 9.9 sacks on the year. The defense contained a powerful running back in Lafeyette’s Tyrell Price and an explosive quarterback in West Point’s Marcus Murphy.
More importantly, they can force turnovers with six interceptions, six fumble recoveries, and one blocked field goal on the year for 91 total yards. C.J. Terrell leads the defense with three interceptions. Korbin Harmon has 16 solo tackles, 37 assists, and 57 total tackles on the year with an average of 10.6 tackles per game. If this defense can continue to contain opposing offenses and force turnovers, there isn’t much standing in the Chargers’ way.
THE KEYS TO DOMINANCE
The talent is clear, but the most impressive aspect of the offense is how quick and often they score. They pounce on teams quickly and never look back. Their greatest asset is their ability to get up early and give the defense some breathing room to wreak havoc in.
The defense must continue forcing turnovers. This has effectively drained momentum from opposing sidelines and created even more opportunities for the offense to score. Abraham and company can be trusted to capitalize on the opponents’ mistakes and to do so quickly. Keep your offense on the field and victory is inevitable.