Benjamin Russell hopes to get on the winning track this week when it takes on Wetumpka, and coach Kevin Smith is making a few changes to hopefully improve the Wildcats’ play.
The Indians (2-2, 1-0) are putting the pieces back together after a last-second loss last week that went viral after Wetumpka gave up a touchdown on hook-and-ladder play from Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa.
Benjamin Russell (0-4, 0-2) has gotten off to a slow start this season but not by choice; the injury bug has sunk its teeth deep into the Wildcats. Despite the injuries, Smith believes in the next-man-up mentality. He’s encouraged by how hard the team has been working and how some of the younger guys have stepped up in the absence of some key starters.
The most recent injury to the Wildcats was senior starting linebacker Landon Jacobs who is the sideline-to-sideline tackler for Smith’s defense. With all the injuries, Smith has been focusing on getting the best athletes on the field to give the Wildcats some energy, whether it’s offensively or defensively. According to Smith, Wildcat fans could see some Marcus Freeman and Elijah Spivey sprinkled in on the defensive side of the ball to give the Wildcats an edge on the outside of the defense.
Smith is making some changes to his 3-3 stack defense this week; normally Smith likes to run man-to-man coverage with the defensive backs, but with Wetumpka’s offense, Smith has decided to change to a zone coverage concept for this week.
“The quarterback they have (Robert Rose) can run,” Smith said. “Wetumpka always has tremendous speed and athleticism; this year they have that in their quarterback. He can throw it as well as run with the ball. Our emphasis on defense will be stopping him and we think we can do that running more zone concepts on defense.”
Smith’s game plan for Wetumpka’s offense is a great way to stop the Indians from getting to the outside, forcing Wetumpka to go between the tackles where the Wildcat defensive line led by Onaje Brooks will be waiting.
Carter Smith returned to the field Friday after missing the previous week with shoulder soreness and had a great night throwing the ball.
Defensively the Indians match up well with what coach Smith wants to do — and that’s run the football. The run game for the Wildcats has been virtually nonexistent the last couple weeks, putting a lot more pressure on Carter Smith to carry the offense. Although Smith has been playing well for the Wildcats, he has taken a beating with the knockdowns and sacks from opposing defensive lines, which isn’t sustainable if the Wildcats want a healthy quarterback.
“Our inside run game is our biggest challenge and what we have been working on,” Smith said. “We are probably going to use less four receiver formations. We really need to get our run game going so we can use the play action pass.”
Smith’s biggest concern is the Wetumpka defensive line that has big, fast athletes, which is where Smith wants to run the ball. Even if the Wildcats aren’t able to get big gains through the run game, Smith feels it’s necessary to set up the play action to freeze the safeties and let Freeman and Spivey work their magic.