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COC football: Cougars have to bounce back again

COC faces No. 15 Ventura, a week after squandering a halftime lead with miscues

Posted: November 5, 2010 11:28 p.m.
Updated: November 6, 2010 4:55 a.m.

College of the Canyons football is predicated on two principles - attitude and effort.

For the first half of last week's game against Cerritos College, the Cougars had both.

Then there was a barrage of penalties, an interception and a three-and-out on offense early in the second half.

Suddenly, COC's 16-5 halftime lead was erased and a disastrous third quarter eventually proved to be the team's undoing in a 31-24 loss to Cerritos.

Those are the lapses COC will try to avoid in today's 7 p.m. National Division, Northern Conference contest against the state's No. 15 team, Ventura College, at Cougar Stadium.

"Our attitude might have been a little shaky (last) Saturday because when you have individuals that act selfishly, that's not what College of the Canyons is about," said Cougars head coach Garett Tujague.

The No. 17 Cougars (5-3, 2-1) ran a total of five offensive plays in the third quarter last week, and Cerritos outscored them 19-0 in those 15 minutes.

Outside of that, it was largely a winning effort, as COC regrouped in the fourth quarter and had a chance to tie the score before fumbling the ball away in the closing seconds.

It's the same type of inconsistency that has plagued COC all season long.

"There are times you look at this (COC) defense and they just look unbelievable," said Ventura head coach Steve Mooshagian. "All the sudden, you'll click on another game and you'll say, ‘Is that the same team?'"

The Pirates (5-3, 2-1) will test that consistency this week with their quarterback Antavius Sims.

His numbers of 138-for-229, 1,496 yards, 10 touchdowns and seven interceptions only tell half the story.

He's also the team's leading rusher, with 842 yards and 13 scores on the ground.

"That kid's a difference-maker," Tujague said. "A lot of it is in the (shotgun) and it's one, two, three and then take off."

Sims, a sophomore, has improved his skills as a dropback quarterback and his ability to find his secondary receivers since last year, Mooshagian said.

What Sims may not have is a slate of talented wide receivers to throw to like the ones Cougar signal caller Justin Arias has.

Not only does Arias have leading-receiver Chris Rivas returning from injury this week, but Cameron Bailey and Rickeem Jackson have proven to be worthy, deep threats in recent weeks.

Those are the usual three, but Arias completed passes to 11 different players in last week's game.

"You have a lot of playmakers. There's only one ball," Tujague said. "You've got to work the offense, so I think when you get the ball to 11 different playmakers, who do you defend?"

The Pirates will likely counter by bringing pressure in their 4-3 base defense.

The unit is led by middle linebacker Brenden Daley, according to both Tujague and the statistics, which show a team-leading 54 tackles this season.

Similar to Cerritos a week ago, Tujague said throwing screen passes and allowing Arias to take off with the ball should help alleviate the constant defensive blitzing.

The basic game plan will be the same. The difference will be whether the Cougars can avoid the mental miscues.



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