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Rams like Manuma's chances in speed option


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POSTED: Monday, December 01, 2008

Talk about a little bit sneaky.

The Radford Rams do not light up scoreboards every week, nor do they prefer to throw a whole lot. In fact, coach Fred Salanoa's approach is one part creativity and one part practicality.

That's why defenders have been fooled by the Rams, who could offer plenty of diversification when they face 'Iolani for the Division II state football championship on Friday.

Whether under center in a one-back (ace) set or in the shotgun, Radford will usually stick to basics: establishing the ground game. A healthy lead or severe deficit doesn't change the Rams' approach.

Against Campbell in the OIA White final, Radford attacked the interior with draws to running backs Tama Fiaseu and James Jennings. That set up quarterback Mosiah Manuma on a third-and-2 play at Campbell's 20-yard line.

Manuma, a speedster who also starts at safety, had only two defenders to deal with when the Rams lined up in the 'Gun with triple receivers to the right. Campbell, in a 4-1 (dime) defense, lined up its linebacker outside the left tackle, and a safety approached behind the linebacker to key on the running back.

Slotback Brad Osborne (16) went in motion and returned to his original spot with a DB following him, tipping off Campbell's man-coverage scheme.

This is where Manuna's agility came into play. On the snap, it was a speed option all the way, a play they rarely call. With teammates executing 1-on-1 blocks with precision, Manuma faced the blitzing linebacker, juked him and sped around left tackle untouched. The safety saw the breakdown, but was too late to get a hand on Manuma, who gained 15 yards easily with solid blocking by wide receiver Shawn Putman-Curry (6-1, 205).

The play would've gone for a touchdown if the running back had kept a good pitch relationship. Instead, he was upfield by 2 yards, and when Manuma pitched at the 5-yard line, it was flagged as an illegal forward pass.

Radford's current starter at running back, Phil Hogan, figures to have better luck when the Rams run the speed option again.

Through 13 games against teams from three leagues, 'Iolani has yet to see much option offense. With a bulky interior defense led by Sealii Epenesa (6-2, 300), the Raiders could force the Rams to explore other options, pun intended.