Varsity 2013: American Football Prematch Report

30th January 2013

Nottingham Outlaws vs Nottingham Trent Outlaws

6.30pm KO Harvey Hadden Stadium 1/2/2013

Travel: There will be two buses from East Drive, UP, and one from outside the Savoy. Time: 5:45pm

This Friday, 1st February, sees the opening event of the 2013 charity Varsity series between the Nottingham Outlaws (2-3) and Nottingham Trent Renegades (3-1) American Football teams.

Last year’s game saw a resounding victory for the Renegades with the match finishing 21-4 (report at http://urn1350.net/blog/sportshow/2012/03/varsity-american-football-uni-4-22-trent), as the Outlaws offence failed to put even a single point on the board. Trent’s main source of dominance that day came in the form of Running Back Danny Miller, a transfer student who played for the Utah State Aggies (a team which competes in an NCAA division one league) and was later named in the BUCS all-star team. Without him it is dubious just how many points the Renegades themselves would have been able to put up on offence, as Quarterback Adam Grant was only able to complete 1 pass the entire game. With none of the Outlaws in the same class as Miller, the game quickly got away from them and a Trent victory was never, seriously, in doubt.

So far, this season would seem to suggest that a similar result may well be on the cards; the Renegades have a winning record, having only lost one game and looked particularly strong in the comfortable victories over Coventry and De Montfort, the latter being a 49-0 thrashing. Miller is back for a second season, although he has moved to QB this year, making him, arguably, even more dangerous, a dual passing and running threat. If the Outlaws are to stand any chance come Friday, they must find a way to stop Trent’s American superstar. One of the key men protecting Miller is offensive lineman Alec Butcher. Having recently been called up to the GB Student American Football team, the Outlaws pass rushers will have a job on their hands getting past the big man. He may listen to Beyonce before the game but Butcher is confident of turning the Outlaws’ ‘Sweet Dreams’ into a not-so-beautiful nightmare…

Although Danny Miller is the Renegade’s main weapon on offence, it would be remiss to forget about their running game which includes rookie Mo Wagaafe. A keen admirer of Washington Redskins’ RB Alfred Morris, Mo can’t wait for Varsity and the opportunity to put one over on his team’s main rivals.

Something that becomes clear if you spend any length of time with the Renegades is that they’re a close-knit bunch. This strong locker room is headed by Cornerback and vocal leader, Marcus ‘Patches’ Boswell, a 3rd year player. Charismatic and eminently quotable, (he is slightly reminiscent of Baltimore Ravens’ iconic Linebacker, Ray Lewis,) Patches is confident of his defence’s ability to stifle the Outlaws’ offence. He’s a man who appears to thrive on the added interest surrounding the Varsity match-up and his claim that he “let’s his play do the talking” rings slightly hollow as he promises to “lay the smack down, both physically and verbally” on his opposition. Outlaws Wide Receivers, beware!

Varsity American Football has been anything but kind to the Outlaws in the past. They have, in fact, lost all 3 games played since the sport’s first appearance in the 2010 Varsity series, so will be out to prove a point against their biggest rivals and secure that all important first Varsity point for the University of Nottingham. With their playoff prospects relying solely on this game, this year’s Outlaws team has just one shot at glory and it comes against this Renegades team on Friday. Can the Outlaws finally best their cross-town competitors or will the Renegades dominance of this event continue for a 4th straight year?

In contrast to their cross-town counterparts, the Outlaws have managed to win just one game this year (their other accredited win came from a game being called off) and have been annihilated twice losing 71-6 and 41-0 to Birmingham and Loughborough respectively. The signs would seem to indicate a victory for the Trent Renegades but come Varsity day, with a packed Harvey Hadden Stadium cheering on their University, anything could happen.

The Outlaws players, however, are confident of notching their first Varsity win in the event. Quarterback Luca Rossoni took over the starting gig last season and hasn’t looked back since. A propensity to run makes him as dual threat and this versatility ensures that the Renegades will have to keep a close eye on Nottingham’s very own ‘Italian Stallion’ if they are to retain their Varsity crown. Rossoni is far from the only Outlaws threat though, as 4th year intimidating centre, O-line captain and Varsity ever-present Tom ‘Pie’ Roberts tells us:

On the defensive side of the ball, rookie Linebacker Tom ‘Irish’ Walshe warns the Renegades about fellow LB Jake Mason’s crushing hits. The Outlaws are well aware of Trent QB Danny Miller’s skill but are far from daunted by it and believe they have the appropriate plans in place to grind the tricky American to a halt. The result of the game could well hinge on their ability to do this.

‘Pie’ and ‘Irish’ unsurprisingly cannot wait for game-day and a chance to avenge previous years’ results but it must be remembered that the game also counts towards the BUCS league. With the Outlaws’ play-off hopes in the balance, a positive result against the Renegades becomes even more pivotal and the magnitude of this game cannot be overstated.

With the trash talk having already started this year, ‘Pie’ is distinctly unimpressed by ‘Patches’ Boswell’s grand claims about “laying the smack down.”

There is no love lost between these two teams and the Outlaws in particular seem to have a grim determination to finally win a point in Varsity American Football. The only thing that remains is to settle their scores on the field and this Friday they will have that opportunity. It promises to be one hell of a game!

If you want to read up on a list of terminology about the sport before this Friday’s varsity and this Sundays Superbowl you can at http://urn1350.net/blog/sportshow/2012/02/american-football-terminology-varsity-matchday-1

Sachin Gosai, Luke Baker & Michael Gaffney