The first few plays of practice went quietly. Then the offense gained yards, and the coaching staff started working.
The Rock Bridge football team focused on defense in preparation for tonight’s game at Kirksville at 7.
The defense has allowed only 294 yards in two games, but coach A.J. Ofodile said it needs to improve.
“I think right now we’ve been living on being a little bit physically better than who we’ve played so far,” Ofodile said. “We just need to get a lot more sound and understand the scheme and understand what we’re trying to get done, and then I’ll feel a lot better about it at that point.”
In practice Wednesday, the Bruins (2-0) spent a lot of time working to stop the option. After the offense gained 5 yards, the coaching staff stepped in to make corrections.
Ofodile watched the defensive line and the linebackers. Gary Anthony, outside safeties coach, corrected the safety and also watched the linebackers. Cornerbacks coach Felton Burroughs worked on the cornerbacks’ stances.
Burroughs also stepped in at quarterback for the practice squad. Burroughs made a big gain on the first snap he took. The coaches snapped into action again.
Ofodile stepped into the defensive huddle with a stern face to explain what the defense needed to do.
“The biggest concern right now is … really understanding scheme-wise what we’re trying to get done on both sides of the ball,” Ofodile said.
The intensity is at a higher level this week than it has been the past two weeks. The shout echoes across the practice field, “Do it again, on the ball.”
The offense ran the play again, and the defense was there to make the stop.
For Rock Bridge, the margin of error is small. Becoming technically sound is the goal, and the team is a long way from reaching its goal.
“We do need to execute a little better,” said Van Alexander, a linebacker and tailback. “I think if we just play a little more disciplined football and stay focused this week in practice, we’ll be able to take care of that.”
Ofodile spent a few extra minutes with Alexander during a break, explaining what a linebacker needs to do to recover on a play fake.
The passing game is another concern for Rock Bridge in tonight’s game. The Bruins haven’t been able to establish a passing game against Kirksville the past two years. In those meetings, Rock Bridge is 7-for-40 passing for 82 yards.
The offense hasn’t been a problem for Rock Bridge this year, gaining 649 yards. Chase Patton has thrown for 403 yards and four touchdowns. Alexander has five rushing touchdowns and 207 yards.
Kirksville (1-1) is coming off a 14-12 victory against Mount Pleasant. Rock Bridge wants to stop Kirksville’s main offensive threat.
“Kirksville’s mainly an option team,” Alexander said. “We figure if we can shut (the option) down, we can shut Kirksville down.”
Kirksville’s option is a little different from what is typically run in high school. The Tigers usually have a wide receiver go in motion and line up as a fullback.
“It’s a set that you don’t see every day, so you have to spend a lot of preparation time preparing specifically for Kirksville,” Ofodile said.