Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

Sports

September 18, 2011

Navarro Football: Bobeck takes blame for sloppiness in win over Tyler

Corsicana — Watching your team commit 18 penalties and drop two wide-open passes that would have easily gone for touchdowns would make most coaches rant and rave about his team.

Instead, Navarro coach Nick Bobeck turned the microscope on himself and his coaching staff.

The top-ranked Bulldogs managed a 34-22 victory over Tyler in the conference opener last Saturday, but they did it in about as ugly style as imaginable.

The offense, playing without its top three running backs no longer with the program, recorded more than 450 total yards and a season-high in points. But that point total could have easily soared over 50 and the yardage may have approached 600 yards.

The defense was fraught with penalties, many of which went against veteran players and kept Tyler drives alive.

And there was a blocked punt that led directly to an Apache score.

“That was on me all the way,” Bobeck said. “We had some things happen that normally we do not do. For example, I changed the blocking scheme on the punt protection and it led to a blocked punt. That was an idiotic call on my part. (Defensive Coordinator Coach Russ) Pickett also had some coverage issues as well and he knows it.

“We all have to do a better job as coaches. We’ve got to grow as coaches. Our strengths on this team are different than we’ve had in past years. We have to continue to work to take advantage of those strengths and bolster our weaknesses.”

That does not get the Bulldog players off th hook. Bobeck watched sophomore receivers Marquez Clark and Robert Primes drop sure-fire touchdown passes on drives that eventually died. Four other balls were dropped on third down, which Navarro converted at a miserable 4-of-14 rate.

“It’s a mental thing,” Bobeck said. “It’s about focus, paying attention to detail and concentration. It’s those five inches between the ears we’re having trouble with, not the talent we have walking out on the field.

“Those five inches between the ears is the biggest battle our kids face every day. It’s not that they aren’t smart. On the contrary, it’s about them saying to themselves, ‘How am I supposed to get better?’ or ‘What do I need to do to make our team successful?’”

There were some bright spots in the victory, particularly Bobeck’s “sprint relay” duo of DeMarcus Jackson and Tyler Middleton, who combined for 182 yards and two scores on only 20 carries. Relegated to the back end of the running back rotation coming out of fall camp, Jackson and Middleton were forced to the top because of the losses of Dwight Smith, Darrell Lea and Patrick Major.

Jackson made his first appearance of the season against Tyler and had a 36-yard run around left end. Middleton finished off Tyler with a 60-yard blurring sprint up the right side on a stretch play. A walk-on who joined the program just before August practices, Middleton had 142 yards on 12 carries.

“We’re completely different at running back than we were last year,” Bobeck said. “We had a 4.7 (40-yard dash) guy who could pound it up in there to get those tough 2-yard gains. This season we’ve got guys who can fly back there. Our philosophy has got to change in the running game and that’s up to the coaches. But those track kids are still going to need to learn to stick it up in there when we need one yard on third down. We don’t have anyone else.”

With Navarro travelling to Kilgore for a Saturday tilt at 7 p.m., the Bulldog defense will have to rebound from an inconsistent performance against Tyler. The linebacking corps of D.J. Simon and Austin Moss played well, as did tackle Bubba Vactor. But freshmen Damon Gray and Devonte Potier must learn from their first starts at cornerback to be ready against all-conference receiver Ricky Collins of Kilgore.

“We’ve got a lot of guys like those two who are having to grow up in a hurry,” Bobeck said. “They are having to grow up faster than we initially needed them to, but they did OK in their first starts.

“Now we have to get our veteran guys to step up and make good decisions. Most of those 18 penalties were on sophomores who have played a whole lot the last two seasons.”

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