By Rob Patrick
You don’t give up 45 points and 630 yards of offense in a game — no matter how talented the opponent — without a little[more] soul searching afterwards. It was the first time 40 points had been scored on a Bryant defense since West Memphis got 42 in a State playoff win in 2003 and the most scored against the Hornets since Texarkana put up 49 late in the 1997 season.
So that’s where the Bryant Hornets’ defense was as preparations got under way today for their first home game against the Texarkana Razorbacks this Friday.
After watching the video of last week’s 45-40 loss to the Fort Smith Northside Grizzlies, defensive coordinator Steve Griffith acknowledged first what his squad had been dealing with.
“Northside had a tremendous amount of talent, no doubt,” he stated. “(Wide receiver Shaquille) Jones is a D-I prospect all the way. I thought the (quarterback Kenrick) Burns kid played very, very well. I thought the young man (Tanner Knight) they had last year did a great job and (Burns) did as well or better. Their running back (Donny Jones) ran the ball extremely well. Their offensive line, while they’re not a very physical bunch, they’re big and give you the problem of just getting around their big bodies.
“And, obviously, we’re not very big on our defensive front,” he noted. “But I thought our defensive front played the best part of what we did do. We had good execution. Tim Kelly played extremely hard. (Austin) Dunahoo played hard inside, Blue (Michael Smith) played hard. We had some backups play well, (Jared) Koon, Jacob Powell made a play or two. Logan Howell came in and made a play or two.”
That being said, however, Griffith acknowledged, “We did not play very well in some other aspects. Our outside linebackers didn’t play very well at all. At times, our linebackers and our secondary made great plays but a number of times we failed to execute basic coverages. Those are things you can’t do.
“We did not tackle very well in the open field,” he noted. “We didn’t get our hips low. We didn’t get ourselves in position to make tackles, to give ourselves a chance.
“Those are things we’re going to correct or we’re going to find someone else that can get the job done,” the coach asserted. “We’re just going to focus this week on doing the basic things right, making sure we’ve got our alignment correct, that we know what our assignment is and we execute those assignments. Then, when we have an opportunity to make a play, we get it made. Those are things we did not do very well Friday night. Those are things that traditionally we do real well. We’re going to get it done with somebody.”
After punting on their first two possessions, the Grizzlies scored on seven of their next eight series. Their last three touchdown drives covered 80 yards twice and 87 yards. And they got a field goal after marching from their own 13 to the Bryant 5 before Kelly dropped Burns for a loss and Aaron Bell broke up a third-down pass.
That lost-yardage play and a tackle behind the line by Logan Howell were the only ones of the night for the Hornets defense along with a swing pass that Bell came up and stopped for a 3-yard loss.
Safety Jesse Johnson led the Hornets with 14 tackles, seven of them unassisted and one on special teams. Parker Dunn was in on nine. Kelly, Dillon Winfrey and Marshall Everett got in on eight apiece.
“We didn’t tackle very well,” Bryant head coach Paul Calley concurred. “We were out of position. We got tired and when we got tired we started making some mistakes mentally.”
The defense did help give the Hornets a chance at the end when Karon Dismuke cause a fumble and Kelly recovered. Trailing 45-34 at the time, the Hornets drove 72 yards in four plays to make what had been an 18-point deficit into a one-score margin with four minutes still to play.
After looking at the video, Calley said of the offense, “We had some breakdowns in protection on a couple of bad plays. We slid the wrong way. They came at critical times too because we had chances to make big plays. It hurt us.
“But we were down 18 and we could’ve quit and we didn’t,” he added. “And that’s a positive. And when you amass 500 yards total offense, you did something right.”
2011 unofficial statistics through 2 games
Score by quarters
BRYANT 14 14 13 20 — 61
Opponent 0 20 29 10 — 59
First downs 43 52
Rushes-yds 61-373 71-311
Passing yds 462 556
Passing 35-49-1 53-80-1
Fumbles-lost 2-2 5-2
Penalties-yds 11-113 13-93
Rushing: Jalen Bell 13-161, Karon Dismuke 21-149, Ben Clark 8-59, Dillon Winfrey 1-4, Hayden Lessenberry 18-0.
Passing (C-A-I-Y): Lessenberry 35-49-1-462 (5 TDs).
Receiving: Winfrey 13-185, Sawyer Nichols 9-152, Hayden Daniel 7-69, Charles Henson 3-41, J.Bell 2-24, Dismuke 1-(-6).
Scoring: Winfrey 18 (3 td-rec), Dismuke 18 (3 td-run), Nichols 12 (2 td-rec), Jace Denker 7 (7 of 8 PATs), Lessenberry 6 (1 td-r)
Tackles: Jesse Johnson 17 (9U, 7A, 1ST), Marshall Everett 16 (6U, 8A, 2TFL), Parker Dunn 16 (5U, 9A, 2TFL), Travis Royal 16 (4U, 10A, 1TFL, 1ST), Winfrey 16 (11U, 4A, 1 ST), Aaron Bell 15 (10U, 5A), Walter Dunn 15 (1U, 9A, 2Sack, 3ST), Tim Kelly 14 (4U, 8A, 1TFL, 1Sack), Michael Smith 12 (2U, 8A, 1TFL, 1Sack), Tryee Reese 9 (2U, 6A, 1Sack), Chris Stevens 7 (3U, 3A, 1 ST), Kaden Mills 6 (1U, 4A, 1TFL), Austin Dunahoo 5 (3U, 1A, 1Sack), Jared Koon 4 (4A), Clark 3 (1U, 2A), Dismuke 3 (2U, 1 ST), Caleb Thomas 3 (2A, 1 ST), Collin Battaglia 2 (2 ST), Jacob Powell 2 (2A), Logan Howell 2 (1A, 1 TFL), Nichols 1 (1A), Nate Rutherford 1 (1ST), Jace Denker 1 (1 ST), Kordell Boykins 1 (1 ST)
Fumble recoveries: Kelly 1, A.Bell 1
Interceptions: Stevens 1
Pass breakups: A.Bell 6
Kicks blocked: Winfrey 1