NexGen’s most recent tour stop brought the squad to an impressive soccer complex (used for the NCAA soccer tournament’s final stages) in Cary, North Carolina. Once there, the Bus had a fairly easy time defeating Carolina powerhouse Ring of Fire by a score of 15 to 9.
After both teams held and traded some early breaks, Ring jumped out to a 5-3 lead. It was clear that the muggy conditions were impacting receivers from both teams, as there were a handful of in-cut and swing drops early on. Both offenses clearly favored operating out of side and vertical stacks off pulls, off turns, and throughout the game.
NexGen proceeded to mount an impressive 4-1 run as the weather deteriorated—first, it drizzled, then it rained, and then strong winds, thunder, and lightning accompanied a torrential downpour. As the disc got slipperier and NexGen committed to simple, tight, man D, Ring dropped more discs and threw some riskier backfield passes that went out of reach or got eaten up. George Stubbs, Jimmy Mickle, and Dylan Freechild helped NexGen capitalize on these break opportunities with impressive hucks, blades, and cross-field break throws of their own. The Bus took half, 8-7, before a prolonged rain delay.
Ring’s O-line’s inexperience and lack of chemistry was apparent in the second half, when NexGen’s D-line broke Ring three times in a 4-0 run out of half. There were more drops and a few more swings went out of reach. NexGen did have a few unforced turns of their own, but Ring gave the disc to NexGen more often, and NexGen capitalized on break chances more often than NexGen did. To be frank, Ring probably gave the disc away more often than NexGen generated its own turns.
Dylan Freechild continues to have a noticeable impact on NexGen’s play as he puts his injuries behind him. He had one or two turns early on, but the game in general was pretty sloppy, and he more than made up for those mistakes. His highlights included some swarming dump D that generated a turn (and bookends), a perfect buzzsaw to Stubbs for a goal, and a ridiculous cross-field break throw in the red zone to Phil Murray for a goal. George Stubbs was also a reliable leader and handler in this game, accurately putting a number of quality long- and mid-range hucks to Cody Bjorklund and others that helped Bus capitalize on break chances. He also generated a break opportunity of his own with a flying goal line block on a Brian Casey throw. Jimmy Mickle had a few turns of his own (one questionable decision on the goal line included), but he also made up for early mistakes with great break throws in the red zone and a stellar skying grab for a goal in the second half over Dave Snoke. In addition, he bailed out Stubbs by snagging a high, helixing scoober that Stubbs threw across the backfield at a very high stall count.
As much as Ring’s O-line struggled, it did have two bright spots in the play of Tommy Lamar and Brett Matzuka. Lamar, a first year Ring player from UNC-Wilmington, was able to command the disc under with little difficulty against a variety of defensive match-ups. He was also (for the most part) a reliable continuation thrower that kept Ring’s O moving. Brett was Ring’s primary handler, and he still utilizes a great array of break throws to keep Ring’s vertical stack functional. He wasn’t afraid to showcase his speed and streak deep either, as he did when Lamar boosted a mid-range huck to him for the first goal of the game. Brett was also very effective when he played dominator with Ken Porter in the red zone.
This was a pretty simple man defense versus vertical stack offense game. Ring’s vert flowed well in the first half, and then as continuation timing deteriorated, their stack became very stagnant. The Bus vert was almost hyperactive at times, but it still got the job done. NexGen threw some of its junky, clammy looks, but Ring did a very good job hammering and swinging around it. Ring’s frequent switching against NexGen’s vert occasionally slowed NexGen down, and sometimes it even looked like a coordinated poachy vert defense. Bus often did a good job of identifying open players on the break side and swinging to them, though.
The Ring guys made it clear that they did not want to let NexGen receivers beat them deep, as that has become Bus’ bread and butter. Frankly, they did not achieve that objective too well. Colin Camp, Nick Lance, Bjorklund, and others were all able to get separation deep for goals. If Ring was really concerned with NexGen’s deep game, they could have done a better job of trying to keep NexGen’s primary throwers away from the disc. For instance, when Porter was guarding George Stubbs, he probably could have afforded to force him out a little bit more than he did. KP’s athleticism can help him make up ground and win an aerial match-up should a deep throw go up to Stubbs, and if you keep Stubbs downfield, you’re keeping one of the country’s best handlers from distributing the disc. No, Stubbs is not their entire team, and yes, Stubbs could still have won that deep matchup with a good put, but changing things up and trying to limit the impact of one or two guys could have helped shake things up for Ring.
As much as the NexGen guys are coming together on the field, it’s still obvious that they have a number of type A players on the field at all times. That is, it’s not uncommon to see three or four NexGen receivers swarming the disc at a high stall count from the dump, front of the stack, and downfield. Being a little more disciplined in their dump sets and giving one or two designated positions/players more space to work as resets could better serve them. Then again, when George can make eye contact with Cody at the back of the stack at stall six and float a perfect flick to the back of the end zone, who needs clean handler movement?
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I’ll be doing more interviews after the Truck game, so if you have any burning questions for the NexGen guys, post in the comments or shoot me an email (email@example.com) and I’ll try to get a few of them answered for you.
In case the embedded video disappears, here’s the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ImqFIwt7kVM