The Norman Transcript

September 11, 2013

Silver linings in the defense

By Corbin Hosler
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — One thing that may have been lost in the conversation following Norman High’s big win over Norman North last week is that, despite giving up 38 points, there were plenty of bright spots for the Timberwolves’ defense.

It’s a point that coach Wade Standley is emphasizing to his team this week as they prepare to meet Del City on Friday. And it’s one that watching tape of the Crosstown Clash has only reinforced.

“We saw a lot of good things, and we’re going to continue to get better,” he said. “Obviously we can’t give up the big plays like we did, but we also had some guys step up and make some big plays for us.”

The numbers bear that out. While the T-Wolves gave up 352 yards to the Tigers, nearly 150 of those came on a pair of big runs when NHS’ backs were able to break free. Outside of those two plays, North did a reasonable job of slowing down the Tigers’

prolific rushing game.

The T-Wolves were also a victim of poor field position. North struggled with kicking the ball all night, both from the offensive and defensive sides of the ball.

The T-Wolves resorted to having quarterback David Cornwell quick-kick the ball at times — as well as on kickoffs and traditional punts. It backed up a North defense that returned just one starter this year and allowed the Tigers to start with the ball near midfield more often than not.

Not that the T-Wolves are using any of that as an excuse, but it does support the case that North’s young unit is making strides. The Timberwolves looked bad in the preseason’s first scrimmage against Edmond Santa Fe and Oklahoma commit Justice Hansen, but they showed improvement the next week in a scrimmage against Southmoore, where they stopped the SaberCats on three straight fourth downs.

And while it takes a deeper look to see it, Standley believes his team improved in Week 1 against NHS.

“It’s just a young team that has to continue to get better each week,” he said. “We’ve got to eliminate the big plays, but we saw a lot of things we liked.”

One of those things is linebacker Mason Volk. The junior sat out North’s first scrimmage but has made tremendous progress since, anchoring a T-Wolves’ linebacking corps that is a key component to North’s bend-but-don’t-break defensive approach. Against NHS, he was involved in most plays and made several big tackles at the line of scrimmage.

“He had a really good game for us,” Standley said. “He’s in the process of becoming a really good football player. And all of those guys at linebacker in particular made plays and played well for us.”

It’s a group that will be tested again on Friday when they travel to face Class 5A’s No. 10 Del City, a squad with speed to spare in the backfield and on the edge.

“It’s always important to go out and get a win, but it’s more about us showing improvement and playing better,” Standley said. “Typically between Week 1 and Week 2, you see great improvement, and I expect that for us this week.”

Corbin Hosler

Follow me @Chosler88