It was not a pretty game for a lot of people this past weekend as the Fleet lost 26-23 against a very beatable Memphis Express team. Almost every facet of the game looked good for the Fleet as they quickly got out to a 20-6 lead.
But after they lost Philip Nelson, they seemed to fall apart offensively, turning the ball over three times after he left the field due to injury. This put a lot of pressure on the Fleet defense, which did it’s best to stop Zach Mettenberger and the Memphis offense. Mike Martz called a questionable fake punt late in the game that sealed it for the Fleet.
Even after a disappointing loss, three players played well enough to earn three stars from this game. But who is the question? It couldn’t be any of the lineman, who couldn’t open up any holes of either Ja’Quan Gardner or Terrell Watson. Philip Nelson would have been one if he had continued his stellar performance. Before his injury, Nelson was 9/12 with 110 yards and a touchdown. But with his injury possibly sidelining him for a week at the least, he didn’t play long enough to earn a spot on this weeks three stars.
Week Fours three stars consist of one guy on the offensive side of the ball who really opened things up for the Fleet offense early in the game and two defensive guys who dominated against the run and controlled the line of scrimmage.
3 Stars: Dontez Ford (3 Receptions, 61 Yards, 1 Touchdown)
Ford was a force early, thriving in the slot and working the system Martz laid out for him. But his targets suffered once Philip Nelson was out of the lineup, as he didn’t get another catch after that. But his impact in the short passing game proves promising for the Fleet who have struggled at times to find consistency through the air.
Dontez Ford had six total targets, catching three of them. He also had 61 total yards and a touchdown. His impact was limited to the first half, but I hope Mike Martz finds ways to get the ball in his hands in the future. He is a weapon that should see more time on the field due to his route running ability.
2 Stars: Frank Ginda (15 Total Tackles, 7 Solos, 1.0 Tackle For Loss)
What a first game from the youngest player on the Fleet. At only 21 years old, he took control of the game and had 15 total tackles. He was constantly around the football and steadfast against the run. He wasn’t great in pass coverage, but most people knew that wasn’t the strongest part of his game. His ability to flow, attack downfield, and make plays in the backfield. He had one tackle for a loss.
Ginda played himself into more playing time after today’s game and gave defensive coordinator Larry Marmie a reason to play him alongside normal starter A.J. Tarpley. Ginda is kind of a liability in coverage, but if Marmie can find ways to play Tarpley alongside him, it should make up what Ginda lacks in terms of coverage ability.
1 Star: Tani Tupou (4 Total Tackles, 2 Solos, 1 QB Hit, 1.0 Tackle For Loss)
His box score may not be impressive enough to warrant a star. He only had four total tackles with one of them coming for a loss. But his impact was the most impressive on Saturday out of almost all of the San Diego Fleet players. He was constantly causing havoc on the defensive line and was a big reason the Express only had 57 rushing yards. He also had a hand in making Mettenberger uncomfortable for most of the day, adding a quarterback hit and a couple of pressures.
Minus Philip Nelson, Tupou had the biggest impact of any Fleet player on Saturday as he was continuously the most disruptive player on San Diego’s defensive line. His ability to take on double teams (and beat them) and allow linebackers like Frank Ginda to flow over the top and make tackles was a big reason that they played as well as they did against the run.