“We knew going into the game we were young and not very experienced,” DeVoursney said moments after the team’s worst preseason loss since a 35-0 drubbing in a three-way scrimmage against Chattahoochee and Lassiter at Lovejoy in 2000 before DeVoursney, now in his 11th year as Griffin head coach, became the Bears head coach. “We have a long way to go, but the good thing is we have two weeks before the first game.”
“We have to get a lot better before then,” added DeVoursney, whose team opens the regular season Aug. 26 against Spalding in a series the Bears lead 3-0 during the modern era where they have outscored the Jaguars by a combined margin of 144-23.
A few film sessions removed from a scrimmage where sophomore running back Justin Goddard’s 130 yards rushing on 20 carries was one of the few bright spots, confirmed the worst for DeVoursney and his staff.
“As far as execution on offense, we didn’t have a single kid grade out with a passing grade which is never good,” said DeVoursney, whose team ended the night with 150 yards rushing on 35 carries. “So we worked on execution and catching the football. We had a lot of dropped passes.”
First-year starting quarterback Jaquez Parks, a sophomore, completed 6-of-14 passes for 40 yards with an interception returned 40 yards for a touchdown in three quarters of action, while backup quarterback Anforne’ Stroud, a freshman, completed 5-of-11 for 28 yards.
“We young and just trying to get consistent,” said first-year Bears offensive coordinator Justin Rogers. “We’re still trying to find out what this team does well. We do some things better than others, but nothing great.”
The absence of senior fullback LaThaddeus Sands (knee), who was the team’s best rusher scoring two TDs in the spring game, hurt Griffin’s running game especially inside. The constant delays and water breaks, which are commonplace in preseason scrimmages, also didn’t do anything to aid the Bears’ no-huddle offense.
On the only drive where Griffin’s starting unit establish its no-huddle rhythm, Griffin drove to just inside the Newnan 5 before the clock ran low and they had to settle for a 26 yard field goal attempt that sailed wide.
“People in the stands must have though I was crazy with the plays I was calling, but when we got down there we only had 20 seconds left,” said Rogers.
On the other side of the ball, where Newnan had only one sustained drive for a touchdown against Griffin’s starting unit (another came later when both teams had their junior varsity in), Griffin’s play proved to be almost as problematic.
“We’re working on technique, assignments and loafs – which is not characteristic of Griffin’s defense,” said DeVoursney. “There were too many loafs. We have to get to the football and play to the whistle.”
Fifth-year Bears defensive coordinator Rusty Easom said, “We’re still trying to find our identity on defense.”
Griffin’s problems last week began in the first quarter on special team’s where punter Trey Mallett had a snap sail over his head that led to a touchdown two plays later from the Griffin 4, while a blocked punt returned 1 yard for a touchdown led to the next score later in the quarter.
“We have also worked on snaps and worked on punt teams every day this week,” said DeVoursney. “We’re trying to get better with pressure (coming at us).”