Industrial mixing it up
By by Clay Whittington -
July 13, 2011 at 2:13 a.m.
VANDERBILT - Despite relying on passing to reach the State 7-on-7 Tournament, do not expect the Cobras to completely change their offensive philosophy once August rolls around.
For the previous six seasons, under former head coach Doug Kuhlmann, Industrial's preferred method of attack consisted of striking on the ground out of the wishbone formation.
Following the departure of Kuhlmann - who accepted the head coaching job at San Angelo Lake View - new Cobras head coach Shane Lothman intends to continue the ground-and-pound tradition, although he is willing to mix it up by incorporating more passing during the upcoming season.
His players, including projected starting quarterback Jake Smiley, are not questioning the decision.
"It doesn't really matter (how we play), as long as it gets the job done," the incoming senior said.
Classmate Jake DelaGarza, who like Smiley, will be undertaking a new positional assignment this season, agrees.
"Whatever helps the team win," DelaGarza said.
DelaGarza will be transitioning to tight end in the upcoming season after playing fullback in 2010, while Smiley appears set to inherit the starting quarterback job from Austin Smalley after playing running back last year.
"I feel confident as the new quarterback," Smiley said. "I have no reason not to be."
If the successful 7-on-7 season is any indication, the Cobras could become a dual-threat squad in 2011, although Lothman knows the system put in place by Kuhlmann will continue to be the offense's staple.
"We're going to throw a little more but, to win games, we have to run the ball," the former Industrial defensive coordinator said.
The Cobras begin play in the State 7-on-7 Tournament Thursday and will be competing for the Division II championship against 63 other teams broken up into 16 four-team pools.
Situated in Pool H, Industrial opens against Ballinger at noon before facing Princeton at 2 p.m. and Navasota at 4 p.m.
The top two teams from each pool advance to Friday's championship bracket, while the bottom two fall into the consolation bracket, which begins play Thursday evening. All games are being played at Texas A&M University at College Station.
"I think we will do pretty good (in the tournament)," DelaGarza said. "We have good chemistry, and I believe we can make it into the championship bracket."
7-on-7 football consists exclusively of passing plays on offense, and the experience gained during the summer should prove valuable as the team makes the transition into a slightly more high-flying style.
The coach points to his roster, however, as a primary reason why he is deciding to add a few more passing plays to the arsenal.
"The type of kids we have coming through the program just are not as big as they were," Lothman said.
In 2010, running back Micah Montes led the team with 875 rushing yards, while Blaine Rozner (689 rushing yards) and Smalley (658 rushing yards) each topped the 500-yard plateau. All three players, however, have graduated.
With the trio gone, Smiley and DelaGarza both feel now is a good opportunity to expand the offense.
"It certainly won't be a bad thing, and I like throwing it," Smiley said.
"I think it is a good change, and it keeps the defense off balance instead of them knowing we will be running the ball all the time," DelaGarza added. "Hopefully, we can catch (opponents) off guard with a couple passes."
To his credit, Smalley accounted for 977 yards through the air in 2010, completing 63 of his 111 attempts with 14 touchdowns.
After going 9-4 overall last season and advancing to the Class 2A Division I regional round of the playoffs, the Cobras will open the 2011 season Aug. 26 at Shiner.
But right now, the quarterback and his teammates are set on making a deep run in the State 7-on-7 Tournament.
"We are all confident that we can win, advance to the championship bracket and go pretty far," Smiley said.