NORMAN — It’s back to basics at Norman High.
The Tigers (2-2, 0-1), have struggled for several weeks, culminating in a 34-14 loss to Mustang last week in which the run-first Tigers recorded just 109 yards on the ground and 170 overall.
There are plenty of reasons for the Tigers’ dropoff in the last two weeks. Injuries have hurt — including one to Darius Manning that has the running back out again for Friday’s contest against Edmond Memorial — and the quality of their opponents has improved. But coach Greg Nation said the team’s biggest enemy is itself.
“We’ve run the same thing here for four years,” he said. “All of our problems right now are with ourselves. We shouldn’t be missing the blocks and tackles that we are. The guys are working hard, but we’re not playing with aggression or pride right now.”
A combination of penalties, missed blocks and poor decisions doomed the Tigers last week, and Nation said his coaching staff went back to the drawing board after the contest. That brought them someplace this week they didn’t expect to go - backwards.
“We’re going back to the very basics,” Nation said. “In the past we’ve been able to make changes in practice or quick adjustments on the sideline; that’s not where we’re at right now. We’re going to simplify what we do and rectify the mistakes.”
The journey back to success is not unreachable for NHS. The Tigers have plenty of talent across the field and have the explosiveness to turn a game at any moment. Jakcob Dean has been dangerous at quarterback, but the Tigers have been unable to sustain drives, a problem that keeps the defense on the field and exacerbates any holes that exist.
Alongside the mental mistakes, the Tigers’ biggest problem seems to be one of confidence, and one that there is no easy fix for.
Sitting at 0-1 in a loaded District 6A-4, NHS can’t afford to go much longer without regaining that confidence. Friday’s contest against Edmond Memorial pits NHS against one of the teams they’ll be competing against for a playoff berth. And while Nation knows there is no easy fix, there is one thing he knows will help.
“Wins solve a lot of problems,” he said. “Our guys want to do well, but we’ve lost something along the way we’ve got to get back. Right now our heads are down, but we’re going to get better and try and turn this around.”
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