The Norman Transcript

October 6, 2013

Despite loss, Tigers made big strides on offense, defense

By Corbin Hosler
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — Friday’s loss to Edmond Memorial was another disappointing way for Norman High to lose. If not for a pair of broken coverages and six fumbles, the Tigers could well have handled the Bulldogs and pulled even in district play.

But it wasn’t to be. Instead, the Bulldogs rolled over the Tigers and dropped NHS to 0-2 in district play. It’s a hole that may prove insurmountable for the Tigers to overcome in the race to make it back into the playoff picture in a loaded District 6A-4.

NHS will have to go on a surprising run the rest of the season to break back into the playoff picture. But it’s possible that the Tigers did lay the seeds of that in Friday’s defeat.

The offense has been anemic for weeks, going long stretches without securing a first down and coming off the field too quickly for the defense to regroup. But it was a problem that seemed to fade away against Edmond Memorial, especially early. The Tigers garnered 15 first downs in the game, their most of the season. They ran more plays than Edmond Memorial and were able to gash the Bulldogs at times.

It didn’t change much on Friday thanks to six fumbles — four of which were recovered by Edmond Memorial and two of which the Bulldogs returned for a touchdown — but it was a sign of progress for a team that needs to be able to go on sustained, clock-draining drives to win.

“We finally drove the ball better tonight,” coach Greg Nation said. “That was better for us.”

The second bright spot was the defense. Despite a few blown coverages, the unit was able to corral the Bulldogs for much of the night. Cade Parker led the way, pressuring Edmond Memorial quarterback Mick Mayerske all night long, and added a blocked kick early in the game that momentarily swung the momentum the Tigers’ way.

While the Tigers showed some positive signs, defensive coordinator John Emerson said the most important thing they must do is eliminate the big plays that haunted them on Friday night.

They also need to stay healthy. Nick Webb missed the second half of Friday’s game with an injury, and the timetable for his return is not yet set.

“It just seems like every time we’re getting better we’re giving a big one up,” he said. “It takes all the momentum away. It’s frustrating. I know they’re frustrated. But they’re playing hard, and sooner or later we have to catch a break.”

Corbin Hosler

Follow me @Chosler88