FOOTBALL TAB -- Bowden can't have 'lead foot' in Cougars' offense
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on August 22, 2013 1:47 PM
Sophomore quarterback Nashir Bowden almost has all the tools he needs to work with this season.
He has a talented offense anchored by three linemen who can create open lanes for 1,000-yard back Rasheid Malette. Joseph Baker and Hunter McCoy are quality receivers.
There's only one issue. Can Bowden remember he's not on the Autobon once he slips in behind the wheel to drive Goldsboro High's offense this season?
"We tell him you're stepping into a good car. It's not like it's a 1975 Volkswagon that needs considerable work or belongs in the junkyard," Cougar head coach Eric Reid said. "We've told him that you just need to take your time, don't go so fast because you don't need to wreck it and be sure to stay within the speed limit."
Bowden may need a governor under the accelerator.
Reid and his staff have simplified the playbook this season. Instead of throwing their first-year varsity signal caller into the Indy 500, they've elected to keep him on the short dirt tracks.
They've expressed that playing consistent on each down holds more value than hitting a wide-open receiver 30 or more yards downfield.
"We want to get Bowden to realize we want to move the chains (each drive)," Reid said. "A four-yard pass can turn into a big play. We need methodical drives to build up the confidence of our offensive players.
"We want to get into situations that we can work out of easy and avoid long-yardage plays. Nashir knows we need him to direct the offense, but he doesn't need to be the offense."
Reid expects senior left tackle Justin Cates (6-foot-3, 245 pounds), senior center Zach Falconer (5-9, 242) and senior left guard Malik Miller (5-9, 231) to show leadership to the younger players on the line. They've taken senior Emmanuel Adolye (6-0, 210) and junior Justin Nauceder (6-2, 199) under their wing, and the two newcomers have shown an understanding of what the Cougars are trying to do on offense.
An all-Carolina 1-A Conference performer last season, the 154-pound Malette is the lone commodity in the backfield after rambling for 1,147 yards and 14 touchdowns in 2012. He also hauled in 13 passes for 231 yards and another two scores.
Baker emerged as Julius Murphy's go-to receiver last season and should be Bowden's primary target this fall. The 165-pounder snagged 44 passes for 591 yards and stepped into the end zone on seven occasions.
He's bolstered by McCoy and Best, who combined for 394 receiving yards. McCoy caught two touchdown strikes.
"We're going to learn as we go and Nashir is going to get better," Reid said. "We eventually want to be that exciting, fast-paced offense like we had last year."
A senior-ladened secondary.
A physical linebacking corps.
A experienced defensive front.
It's no wonder Reid is a little bit giddy about that side of the ball.
"The defense is a little more sound because it's been in place for a while," Reid said. "I like their maturity. They understand their roles and they came into the season realizing they are going to be the focal point.
"They're all in a comfort zone right now. We always preach accountability and each guy on that defense trusts each other, and knows where they are going to be on each defensive call."
Speedsters James Clyde (5-8, 156) and Jaekwon Rhodes (5-8, 140) return at the corners. Best (5-6, 166) is back at safety. The linebacking chores will be handled by returning starter Ricardo Woodard (5-10, 170) and two newcomers -- middle linebacker Sterling Dyson and outside linebacker Taylin Davis.
Nauceder will work with Cates and Miller.
The group will get tested by a non-conference schedule that includes nine-game winner Franklinton, 2012 eastern 4-A runner-up Scotland County and perennial power Jacksonville Northside.
"They're going to a confidence builder to our offense," Reid said. "It's great having that senior leadership over there in key places. The middle linebacker is the brain of your defense and we're looking for big things from him."
The culture of Goldsboro football has changed during Reid's tenure.
The program has produced four conference championship teams and numerous college signees. But the most important fact, according to Reid, are the core values they've learned while playing football.
Discipline, respect and trust carry considerable weight once they step into the real world.
"We've been fortunate to have a winning attitude around here the last six or seven years, and that's been big for the program," Reid said. "The kids could be doing so many other things due to peer pressure, but they're out here sweating in the heat, getting fussed at when they're put through drills which has given them the intestinal fortitude to already be better young men in the community.
"If they didn't buy into the system, we'd be in the same situation we were before I took over."
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