Skyhawks look to turn season around against Thomas
Published 10:44 am Thursday, September 7, 2023
Point University has had a rough start to football season. The Skyhawks are currently 0-2, and they have lost each of their games by nearly 40 points each.
This Saturday, Point is looking to bounce back as they face Thomas at home. Head Coach Trevor Zeiders’ message to the team has been simple. Everything that the team set out to accomplish is still possible.
“All our goals are still in front of us, but we’ve got to continue to work,” Zeiders said. “We’ve got to get better. We’ve got to actively participate in the process, and make it better for all of us. There’s no shortcuts to this, and we have to figure out what hard work is.”
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Turnovers have been the achilles heel for Point this season. Through two games, the Skyhawks have turned the ball over seven times.
“We’re minus five in the turnover margin,” Zeiders said. “Anytime you’re in the negative, you’re going to lose some football games. We turned the ball over four times on Saturday. That’s too much.”
Those turnovers have led to short fields for the opposing offenses. That has made it tough for the defense.
Ever since Point’s preseason scrimmage against Columbus State, Zeiders has mentioned tackling as a key issue for the defense. That issue has still not been completely fixed after two games.
“We’ve got to be able to tackle better,” Zeiders said. “That’s actually been one of the big points of emphasis this week on defense. You’ve got to just tackle more in practice. We don’t tend to do a lot of live tackling because we don’t want to get guys hurt, but we emphasize what we have to. We still try to get them to tackle as much as possible.”
Thomas runs the triple option, and it could be a long day if Point does not fix their issues with missed tackles on defense.
“If we don’t tackle well, they’re going to run all over us,” Zeiders said.
Thomas’ defense has been opportunistic to start the season. On Saturday, Thomas used several turnovers to set up their offense in excellent field position.
“I think they ended up with three or four takeaways themselves,” Zeiders said. “Those three or four takeaways, of course, took away opportunities from the other team, but it was stuff that they turned into points and got a 34-6 win out of it.”
Quarterback play has been dicey to start the season. On Saturday, Mitchell Gossett and Austin Adcock were a combined 8-for-28 on their passing attempts. The two totaled 108 yards passing with two interceptions.
Going into this Saturday, the quarterback situation will be the same for the Skyhawks. Gossett or Adcock will still have the opportunity to take the starting role for the rest of the season.
“Right now we’re still working with both of them,” Zeiders said. “One of them eventually has got to step up and start being the leader that we need them to be, and then also the play has to improve. If one of every three passes is falling to the turf or getting picked off, you’ve got a lot of issues.”
Zeiders believes that Point matches up well with Thomas, but he also knows that the NightHawks have some really good athletes. One of those athletes is a former LaGrange High School standout, Adrian Traylor.
“He’s a really good looking kid,” Zeiders said. “He looks the part. Definitely was flying around last Saturday on film. They’ve got a couple of linebackers that run pretty well, and they’ve got some skill kids that run pretty well. We’re going to have to be able to match their speed and quickness, especially to the outside.”
Zeiders expects Point to have the size advantage on Saturday. Thomas’ offensive line will be similar to most that you see on the NAIA level, but their defensive line is on the smaller side.
However, Thomas runs a 3-4 defense. They will rely heavily on their linebackers, and the NightHawks will move around alot and bring different blitz packages.
This game has become that much more important for Point after the slow start to the season. The Skyhawks are looking to make this a pivotal game to get their season back on track.
“Every game is a big game, especially when you only get 11 opportunities,” Zeiders said. “This game is a big one just from a mental standpoint. We could really use a momentum boost at this point in time. I challenged our team. Valdosta was a tough game, Bethel was a tough game.”
One of the few bright spots in Point’s 63-10 loss at Valdosta State was Emery Bryant. Bryant only caught one pass for 43 yards, but he did his best work on special teams. Bryant returned four kickoffs for 166 yards, and he had a 94-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.
The coaching staff is looking for better ways to get Bryant the ball in space because the team knows how pivotal he is for their offense.
“We’ve got to try to get a little more creative in the way we’re trying to get him the ball,” Zeiders said. “Some of that’s also our quarterbacks. We’ve got to target him, and get him the ball in situations where it’s going to be positive.”