Here’s some stats you don’t hear very often for a football player during the course of a single game: two touchdowns and one sack. But that’s offensive and defensive star Derrick Wimbush (FB/LB) did during Saturday’s Panthers win against Columbus. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
WHO: Alabama Hammer (2-0) at Albany Panthers (2-0).
WHAT: Panthers’ third game.
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Saturday.
WHERE: Albany Civic Center.
RADIO: 97.3 FM.
ALBANY — If you like rare statistics, you’ll love Derrick Wimbush’s numbers from last week’s Panther win against Columbus.
He had the almost unheard of combination of scoring two touchdowns and recording a sack in Albany’s 40-37 win.
Wimbush, who has been the Panthers’ bread-and-butter back for the last three seasons, doesn’t play much defense, but when he is in there he loves it.
“I think he liked getting the sack more than he liked getting the touchdown,’’ Panthers linebacker Larry Edwards said after practice Wednesday. “I know he’s a big Ray Lewis fan, so I know he is happy about getting that sack.’’
Wimbush just laughed and had to agree.
“It is a lot of fun being on defense,’’ Wimbush said. “I like playing, but any time they ask me to play defense, I’m going to do it. I’m a team player.’’
Lewis, the sure-fire NFL Hall of Famer who just retired, is Wimbush’s favorite player. He even met Lewis in 2006 when Wimbush was with the Jacksonville Jaguars briefly.
“We played Baltimore and he was hurt and didn’t play in the game, but I met him after the game and shook his hand,’’ Wimbush said. “I’m a big Ray Lewis fan.’’
Wimbush not only looks up to Lewis, but he is motivated by the former Ravens’ linebacker every week.
“Before every game I go and watch Ray Lewis’ speech and his dance on YouTube,’’ Wimbush said. “I watch the speech he gives to the other players and watch his dance he does. He has a love for the game. He’s a legend. It’s exciting to see him (before each game). I can’t compare myself to him, but I try to play the game the way he plays it — with passion and a love for the game.’’
Wimbush plays with that attitude, and it’s hard to get him off the field.
“He is so versatile that he can play defense (and offense and special teams),’’ Panthers coach Lucious Davis said Wednesday. “I use him on special teams and on just about every team out there except the kick-blocking team. When you have a player as talented as he is and as versatile as he is, you are going to utilize him.’’
Wimbush has scored four touchdowns in the first two games, but Davis said it’s not because the Panthers are using him any more — or any less — on offense.
“We use him when we get to the 1-yard line,’’ Davis said. “The percentages are against you to throw there. We have just been at the 1-yard-line a little more in the first two games.’’
Wimbush feels the same way.
“It’s just the way the dominoes have fallen,’’ he said. “I’ve had chances to score in the first two games. But I try to score every time I touch the ball. I think it’s just worked out that way (that there have been more opportunities to score in the first two games).’’
Wimbush may be a big Ray Lewis fan, but Edwards, who leads the Panthers’ defense, has his own thoughts on the subject.
“I’m a big Wimbush fan,’’ he said. “Wimbush is a great athlete. He’s versatile, and he plays with great energy and plays with a great passion for the game.’’
KICKING PERFECTION: Panthers kicker Ryan Gates wasn’t just perfect against Columbus last week, he has been perfect through two games, making every PAT and nailing his only field goal attempt.
His 28-yarder with 1.9 seconds left in the game beat Columbus, 40-37, last week and his big night earned Gates the league’s Special Teams Player of the Week award, which was announced Wednesday.
Gates went 5-for-5 on extra points, kicked two unos and hit the 28-yard field goal to give him 10 points for the night.
Davis said he has complete confidence in Gates and that his kicker actually could have kicked six field goals in the first two games.
“He’s been perfect,’’ Davis said. “And we haven’t been kicking field goals. There were five other times in the first two games where I could have kicked a field goal, and all of those were right about where he kicked the field goal that beat Columbus.’’