Carver football: Tigers offense look to step up their game in second round of playoffs

dmitchell@ledger-enquirer.comNovember 22, 2012 

This season has been largely "defense first" for the Carver football team.

In 11 games this season, the Tigers have allowed less than 20 points eight times. Only once have they allowed more than the 21 they gave up to Dodge County last week, losing 33-0 to Colquitt County in the third game of the season.

This week, however, coach Dell McGee said the team's success may fall on the other side of the ball when they host Rockmart High in the second round of the playoffs today.

"Our offense is definitely going to have to score some points this week for us to be successful," McGee said. "It's their turn."

The concern is largely centered around the Rockmart offense, which, after a slow start to the season, came around in the last few weeks. The team won four of its last five games, averaging nearly 37 points per game in the victories.

McGee noted the team's momentum, a quarterback change and strong skill players as a reason for its success, adding that its big offensive line doesn't hurt either.

"They definitely have our attention," he said.

If numbers are any indication, however, the Tigers offense should be up to the task. Despite a two-game swoon early in the season in which it scored only 18 points against Shaw and Colquitt County, the Carver offense has been nearly as productive as the defense.

McGee said that he'd like to see his team maintain a balance in the running and passing games to continue that production, something the team focused on last week in a first-round win over Dodge County.

"You've got to be able to throw the ball in the playoffs," McGee said. "Teams are going to be better and better at stopping the run, so that's always going to be a point of emphasis. The more teams stop the run, the more you have to be able to catch and throw and protect the quarterback."

Wide receiver Marqui Hawkins noted the importance as well.

"We're a run-first team, but we have to be able to balance our attack," he said.

Despite throwing three interceptions in the game last week, quarterback Torrance McGee was able to provide that balance against Dodge County. The Tigers mixed in a handful of screens to Hawkins who used his size and speed to beat the defense for large chunks of yardage.

"We just have to take what the defense gives us," he said.

The problems in the passing game came when Torrance McGee tried to throw across the middle. The interceptions didn't hurt in that game, coach McGee said, but it's something the team will have to limit going forward.

"We were lucky to be in a position where (the interceptions) didn't give them a lot of momentum," he said. "But we have to protect the football. That's the name of the game in the playoffs: Matchups and momentum."

This week, the matchup is certainly a little more challenging for Carver than some others. The opposing offense offers a unique threat that the Tigers will need to match.

Hawkins said he thinks his unit is up to the task.

"It's our turn this week," he said. "We've got to help carry the defense this week."

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