MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Sports

August 16, 2012

Warriors aim to increase takeaways, not turnovers

— The numbers jumped off the page at coach Trevor Rubly — and not in a good way.

In 2010, when he was Bacone College’s defensive coordinator, the Warriors had 21 interceptions and forced nine fumbles. But those statistics dropped off last season to 10 interceptions and seven forced fumbles in his first season as head coach.

“When I first got here, we talked about the pillars of our defense such as takeaways,” Rubly said. “It’s not like we didn’t talk about it last year. We just didn’t emphasize it enough.”

The emphasis now is daily and they do a lot more than talk.

The Warriors go through different drills daily  for about five minutes each, including ripping or punching the ball out of the offensive player’s hands, landing on a loose ball and scooping and trying to score with the ball.

Getting the ball is what it’s all about for the Warriors’ defense this season.

“Takeaways are a huge part of defense,” Wayne Brown, a 6-foot-1, 270-pound senior tackle, said. “If we can get a fumble recovery or an interception, that helps our offense get back on the field. It swings the momentum in the game and that change of possession can lift everyone’s spirit. Our defense wants to take pride in that.”

Rubly doesn’t like using the word turnover.

“If you say turnovers, it puts the onus on the offense to not turn the ball over to you,” he said. “We don’t want it to be up to the other team. We’re going to take the ball away. That’s what we’ve been (emphasizing) to our guys in practice.”

The drills make for interesting practices.

“The offensive players get mad at us if we try to take the ball away, but the offensive coaches remind them we’re doing our job,” Bobby Owens, a 6-2, 215-pound senior linebacker, said. “It’s a good teaching habit for us. It’s also teaching them to hold onto the ball.”

Rubly looks for the numbers to go back up this season. He wants his team to average at least two takeaways per game.

“We need to win that battle,” he said. “If our offense turns it over twice, we want to get the ball three times. If we turn it over four times, we want to get it five. We want to get as many takeaways as we can. You look at the top teams who have success and go to the playoffs, they have more takeaways and know it’s important.”

Bacone’s season starts next Saturday when it plays Tabor (Kan.) at Indian Bowl. Before that, the Warriors will scrimmage at Coffeyville (Kan.) Community College at 7 tonight.

The Warriors are ready to get started.

“I think we can surpass what we did last season,” Brown said. “We’ve addressed what we did wrong last year. Our whole mindset this season is to get the ball.”

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