Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

Sports

September 16, 2011

Navarro Football: Depth issues

Bulldogs to be without four players Saturday

Corsicana — You can officially call Navarro College’s football team roster-challenged as it enters Southwest Junior College Football Conference play on Saturday at home against Tyler.

The No. 1 Bulldogs will be without four players who saw significant time in the season opening win over Butler. All have left the program after “internal issues” arose in the last 10 days.

Depth at running back will be the most challenging issue for Navarro. Gone is potential star Dwight Smith and steady redshirt sophomore Darrell Lea, leaving three undersized but speedy players to man the formally run-heavy Navarro offense. Smith and Lea had 47 of the 57 carries for Bulldog backs in two games.

That likely means Adrian Nelson’s big passing numbers will become a norm in Navarro’s offense. The sophomore southpaw passed a career-high 42 times against Butler and was just short of brilliant vs. Georgia Military, completing 24 of 29 passes for 316 yards and two touchdowns.

Behind Nelson will be Tyler Middleton, Julian Young and DeMarcus Jackson, none of whom are bangers, but all can blaze downfield if they get a corner.

“All three are good football players,” Bobeck said of the diminutive trio. “We knew this was going to be a week-to-week thing. Now we’re going to rely on them to carry the load.

“We trust Adrian. He’s a savvy kid. He understands spacing. He’s the type of kid you want leading your offense. Every good team should play to their strengths. Passing the football is our strength.”

Absent from the defense is linebacker Chris Young and heralded defensive end Chris Martin. Bobeck doesn’t flinch at those two losses, particularly with the thought of starting Austin Moss and D.J. Simon in the middle of Navarro’s linebacking corps.

“Austin looks like the Austin Moss we saw before he got dinged up,” Bobeck said. “He and D.J. are as of linebacker as we’ve had on the field at the same time.”

Michael Jolivet and Arnold Blackmon will fill in for Martin.

“We still need somebody to makes some plays for us on the outside (at linebacker),” Bobeck said. “When we get that, our defense is really going to be good.”

Tyler may attempt to take advantage of Navarro’s depth issues and, judging from the Apaches’ first two wins, they are opportunists.

Tyler enters conference play 2-0 after edging Coffeyville, 16-14, and then easing past Kilgore in the teams’ annual non-conference tilt.

“Tyler is as good a football team as it’s had since I’ve been here,” Bobeck said. “They haven’t been turning the ball over on offense. On defense, they haven’t blitzed as much and as a result have not been giving up as many big plays.

“Tyler is playing really hard on both sides of the ball. (Palmer) is getting the effort coaches want from their team and that’s why they are unbeaten.”

Navarro hopes the effort from its new backfield can match that of Tyler’s defense.

“They’ll be great,” Bobeck said. “We’re still going to run the ball and we’re going to effective. We’ll get the maximum effort out of all three of those guys, as we will with the rest of the team.”

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