Time in pocket key for Cavaliers
If you are going to have a successful passing game, the biggest thing is you have to give your quarterback enough time to throw.
That was one of the first things East Rutherford head football coach Clint Bland recognized following the Cavaliers’ 47-28 season-opening loss to Erwin Friday night.
“We can’t give him (quarterback Austin Hollifield) time to throw,” Bland said.
Chalk it up to a young offensive line, new quarterback or, whatever, but Hollifield only connected on 10-of-22 passing against the Warriors.
That only included two passes for minus-6 yards in a dismal second half.
Hollifield’s longest completion came on a 28-yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Travis Waldroup-Rodriguez in the second quarter.
Other than that, Hollifield had just three other passes that were more than seven yards for the entire game.
For Bland, it all comes back to providing enough pass protection.
“We have to put this behind us and move on,” Bland said.
No one can blame Hollifield. He made up for the broken protection with his scrambling ability, including a 34-yard run and a 1-yard touchdown run in the second quarter.
When he did have time to throw, he found his receivers with solid accuracy.
“I saw some good things,” Bland said. “Austin threw the ball well … when he had time to throw.”
Defensively, the Cavaliers (0-1) were scorched by Erwin’s little-known running attack.
Senior running back Kelman Simpson hit East Rutherford’s young defense for 155 yards on 19 carries — most of which came in the first half.
Additionally, East Rutherford had 87 yards in penalties committed by the Warriors to help.
“We had to limit our mistakes and keep our penalties down,” said Erwin head coach Mike Sexton. “We try to play really fast and we have to cut down on our mistakes.”
The only problem with getting the penalties is the Cavaliers had difficulty converting those penalty yards to points — scoring just once on drives where the Warriors gave multiple penalties.
One positive from the loss for East Rutherford was the ability to see younger players in game situations.
Junior running back DJ Miller came in late in the game and had two carries for 37 yards — including a 25-yard touchdown up the middle in the fourth quarter.
“We saw some younger kids could work out and play a little bit,” Bland said. “I did see some fight late in the game.”
Now, the Cavaliers face a daunting, three-game road swing starting Friday night at North Gaston. The road trip includes the South Mountain Athletic Conference opener at Kings Mountain with a game at Tuscola sandwiched in-between.
“We just need to come back to work,” Bland said. “It’s tough to play on the road and we’re playing good teams on the road.”