There’s no greater step forward in a football season than from Week One to Week Two. The first game is filled with butterflies and enormous expectations, yet they must learn the much faster speed of the game on the fly.
Mark Stoops doesn’t mind the early errors, especially from his quarterback: “There was a few missed opportunities, but you could say that about a lot of our players and a lot of things. Nobody plays perfect.”
Towles struggled with the deep balls, primarily because of the increased speed of the game. Timing is everything, and his wideouts were moving much faster on the new turf than on the Tim Couch Practice Fields.
Shannon Dawson likes to look on the bright side, focusing more on the 90% of Patrick’s play that was exceptional, than on the rough 10%. “I saw no panic,” Dawson said.
The offense’s second half struggles put the defense in a difficult situation. Needing breathers for his first-teamers, the young second team made mental errors that gave up too many big plays. It’s what Eliot is most focused on preventing, “We’re trying to eliminate explosive plays. That’s one thing from last year we’ve got to get better at and in the fourth quarter, we didn’t do that and that hurt us.”
The most important learning point was how they finished – with a win. The Cats were in a couple of close calls last year, but never could quite finish. On Saturday, the game got close and the Wildcats stood firm, “We stayed calm, nobody panicked, we went out there and hit a couple throws and ran the ball in and scored.”
Mark Stoops knows it won’t be the first time it’s down to the wire:
“There’s going to be many games that are going to be very close, and you have to be able to step up and make plays to win the game at the end of the game,” Stoops said. “We had to make some stops on defense and we had to go down and score on offense. You’re always looking to have learning opportunities and we’ve just got to better prepare ourselves for the next time we’re in that situation.”
Not only was it important to learn how to win close games, it’s a lot easier to learn from a close win, than from a loss. “We know we left some opportunities out there, but the nice thing is we’re coming back and getting these things fixed after a victory,” Stoops said.