By Corbin Hosler
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — Washington may be down without its starting quarterback. But, entering tonight’s first-round playoff matchup against Lexington, the Warriors are far from out.
The biggest reason is that Washington (7-2) has a more-than-capable backup in junior Brady Kulbeth. He entered last week’s game against Lindsay when starter Brock Harmon went down with a torn ACL, and kept the Warriors’ offense running smoothly for the rest of the game.
Washington didn’t win the game, but it did prove that the offense can continue with Kulbeth under center. That will be vital as the second-seeded Warriors host the three-seed Lexington (5-5) at 7 p.m. tonight.
“The team’s going to rally around Brady and, he’s going to lead us,” coach Brad Beller said. “Our offense isn’t geared around one person; it’s geared around the quarterback distributing the ball. And Brady’s going to have a big game for us.”
That doesn’t mean the offense will be the same it’s been all year for the Warriors. Beller said that, while the offense is predicated on the quarterback distributing the ball rather than dominating it, it will adjust based on what Kulbeth is comfortable running.
In large part, that could mean getting the ball to the edges. Kulbeth brings 4.5 40-yard dash speed and Beller said he can “fly” in the open field. However the Warriors balance their attack, it will likely include getting Kulbeth on the edges with room to run.
On defense, Kulbeth also will move into the safety role that Harmon vacated. It’s a slate of new responsibilities for the former receiver, but he’s comfortable with his new role.
“I’m focused on getting the mindset right, to keep everyone calm and ready to come out and want to win more than the other team,” he said. “I’ve done this before and I know I can handle it. There’s a little more pressure, but I’m handling it. We’ll be ready to play.”
The Warriors have designs on a deep run through the playoffs, but the road is rough. The matchup against Lexington is far from a given, and a date with a 9-1 Hennessey team likely awaits in the second round in a game the Warriors will have to travel for.
But first Washington must beat a Lexington team that has scored at least 45 points in three of its previous four games. The Warriors must be able to counter with their own offense, which scored just three points last week but had four drives of nine or more plays.
There’s one Warrior who has no doubts his team has what it takes to make a run.
“It’s going to be hard to watch those first couple of plays, but they’ll be fine without me with Brady leading them,” Harmon said. “He’s going to settle in and keep them fighting.”
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