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Northwestern State upset about Nicholls loss, looks to Southeastern
Oct 19, 2013 | 455 views | 0 0 comments | 1 1 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Northwestern State Demons and senior cornerback Imoan Claiborne will be ready to face Southeastern Louisiana tonight. Photo by Gary Hardamon/NSU Photo Lab.
The Northwestern State Demons and senior cornerback Imoan Claiborne will be ready to face Southeastern Louisiana tonight. Photo by Gary Hardamon/NSU Photo Lab.
Northwestern State football coach Jay Thomas and his team were still stinging after falling last week in the Southland Conference opener at Nicholls State, but they were steaming, not sulking after the 33-21 defeat.

With six league games remaining, four at home in Turpin Stadium starting Saturday night against Southeastern Louisiana, there's half a season to be played by the Demons (3-3).

"In no way, shape or form, am I down about it, but I am upset about it, and we're going to get it fixed," said Thomas. "We're still very positive about our team, but we're a little agitated, and it's disturbing and aggravating. We're going to strongly address what needs corrected."

The first-year Demons' coach said there's a lengthy list of fixits, but nothing insurmountable.

"We've got a lot to improve in a short period of time, because this speeds up in conference play. I've been through losing the conference opener before, and battling back right into position to win the championship at the end of the season. We have the guys to do that," he said.

"As a coaching staff we have to put the players in the right place, and our players have to be more disciplined. When we make the calls, they need to be executed, and that will be emphasized even more strongly than it has been already. It will get done the way we want it to be done, one way or the other. We have a good bunch of kids, who want to be successful, and sometimes we have to give them different paths to get this team consistently on the right track," said Thomas.

Nicholls (4-2) was able to take command of the game with two touchdowns in the final five minutes of the half, but the Colonels grabbed the upper hand very quickly with a play-action passing game springing from a power running attack - and the Demons' inability to sustain drives offensively. Nicholls converted 13 of 20 third downs, including seven of the first eight, while the Demons only hit one of their first six.

"We felt our guys were ready, excited about playing, but our inability to get off the field defensively kept our offense from getting good field position. When we had opportunities offensively, we didn't take advantage," said Thomas.

The breakdowns defensively were glaring to watch on film Sunday.

"We didn't handle the quarterback scrambles, that we worked on during the week, and the play-action passes. We had some guys who didn't play the calls the way we needed. We have to show the discipline to run the call correctly," said Thomas.

"Every man has to do his job correctly in order to have success.

"We didn't take the proper angles on blitzes, took shallow angles, and a lot of that is guys we're bringing are in many cases young guys who failed to execute their assignments. We defended their option game so they went to the power running game, allowing them to go play-action protection, which gave them seven guys blocking four," he said. "We've got to be better on personnel groups and be sure we've got the right pressures called."

The Colonels had a 40-20 minutes advantage in time of possession, limiting the Demons' offense to a season-low 55 plays, 20 less than normal, and 269 yards, 117 below average.

"Good strategy on their part, with our high tempo offense, to slow the game down and take every second off the clock. I tip my hat to them," said Thomas.

"It looked familiar. When I was there, that's what we tried to do with our triple option offense. We saw it happening very early in the game, and we weren't able to answer, to get off the field on third downs defensively, to extend series by converting third down offensively."

What chances the Demon offense got were often squandered, despite 102 yards rushing on eight carries from sophomore Daniel Taylor, including a 54-yard run to set up NSU's first touchdown early after halftime, and a 10-yard touchdown bolt late in the fourth quarter.

"We had opportunity. We had a great drive going at the beginning of the game, to answer their touchdown, and we lost a fumble (at the Nicholls 35) trying to get an extra yard. Then we had dropped passes, balls in the breadbasket, that stalled our offense. We didn't throw or catch well enough," said Thomas.

"We'll work on being more multiple offensively, on making sure the right guys are out there in certain situations and getting the ball as much as we need. But players have to make plays, too."

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