Nobody is complaining about Copperas Cove’s quick-strike offense. Not yet, anyway.
After all, big plays are exciting.
So is winning, and the Bulldawgs have been doing both of late.
But can Copperas Cove survive on big plays alone once District 8-5A competition begins next week against Killeen? If not, are the Bulldawgs capable of putting together grueling and bruising drives?
Time will have to tell because the Bulldawgs have not proven they can deliver the rugged, run-based attack that has defined the Jack Welch era. In three nondistrict games, Copperas Cove has a total of 36 drives and 16 have ended with touchdowns, but only three scoring drives have lasted at least four minutes.
The other 13 have concluded in five snaps or fewer with six resulting in scoring plays of 30 yards or longer. Obviously, the Bulldawgs are not going to forgo scoring touchdowns on explosive plays when the opportunity presents itself, nor should they. But heading into district, it would have been comforting to see a few more grind-it-out drives.
District 8-5A has some stout defenses, including Belton, Killeen, Waco Midway and Harker Heights, who, on average, are holding opponents to less than 23 points per game, with the Tigers, Panthers and Knights allowing fewer than 19 points per game, meaning mistakes in coverage will be fairly limited.
Odds are the Bulldawgs will not score as often as they have been recently – they are averaging 48.5 points in their two victories – and will need to find a way to methodically move the chains.
Copperas Cove will also see some strong offenses, and, as the old saying goes, the best defense is a good offense. Controlling the time of possession and consistently producing first downs will be critical in slowing down high-scoring, aerial-oriented opponents like Temple and Midway.
Shootouts do no benefit the Bulldawgs, who have been susceptible to giving up big plays defensively, especially through the air. Copperas Cove has allowed 483 passing yards, but almost a third of those yards (156) occurred on touchdown passes of 35 yards or more. While the Bulldawgs have only allowed six touchdowns, four have occurred on passes.
Conversely, against potent run-based offenses, such as Shoemaker, possessions will be limited for Copperas Cove.
It cannot afford to go three-and-out or go for broke in such a game because unsuccessful possessions early — a problem the Bulldawgs wrestled with at times this season — could result in a double-digit deficit unless the team can rely on its defense to consistently provide stops.
And against a talent like Grey Wolves running back Johnny Jefferson, that is easier said than done.
Perhaps the most important reason the Bulldawgs need to develop a run-first, run-often mentality, however, is because of the damage it can do to an opponent’s psyche.
Big scoring plays are disappointing, but long scoring drives are demoralizing. Sustained drives drain opposing defenses and put pressure on the other team’s offense.
This does not mean the Bulldawgs should abandon the pass by any means, they just need to incorporate a variety of routes to help confuse defenses and keep them guessing.
Excluding the season opener against A&M Consolidated, starting quarterback Robbie Seybold and backup Nick Deprisco have been efficient, completing 14-of-21 passes for four touchdowns, but only two of those completions were for fewer than 15 yards.
The Bulldawgs have shown they can be an explosive offense, now they just need to prove they can be a time-consuming one as well, and finding the proper balance between their big-play capabilities and a chip-away mentality will be key to the team thriving in District 8-5A.
Contact Clay Whittington at firstname.lastname@example.org