OKLAHOMA CITY —
"We return four of our five linemen from last year, so they've got great experience," Stringer said. "This isn't something they haven't seen before. Like last year and all this season, they'll open up the holes for me and Blake [Owen] to run."
It will certainly be the ultimate test all around, and that includes for Blanchard on defense. Quarterback Taber Jordan and running backs Austin Carrera and Jordan Rickets split time running in a difficult to stop power option.
"Our job is to limit their choices and get multiple guys in on the tackle," Craig said. "They do a good job of getting yards after they're hit. We've got to limit it to a three-yard gain and not let it turn into five yards or eight yards. If they put enough of those together, the first downs start to pile up."
So far Blanchard's second ride this deep in the playoffs has appeared easier than their first, putting the idea that it's harder to win a second championship to shame. This matchup could be the gut check both teams need on their respective paths to a title, and Stringer said the Lions' previous experience should serve them well in this semifinal.
"We lost about five guys on offense from last year, but we seem to have replaced the guys we did lose pretty well," Stringer said. "We all worked harder, got closer; really becoming a team and working harder in the offseason is what's pushed us over this year."