By Mickey Winfield: PNT Staff Writer
The Portales Rams have already traveled more than a thousand miles to and from their first two road games, and they’re about to add to that total, with their third road game in four weeks at Slaton, Texas this evening. Head coach Andy Correll is proud of how his kids travel.
“We’ve really done a good job of traveling, the kids prepare themselves well, and they’re just a good group, they take care of business,” Correll said.
The Rams (1-1) face the Slaton Tigers (2-0) this evening (6:30 MST) at Tiger Stadium.
After Thursday’s practice session at Portales High School, Correll targeted his top priority.
“We don’t want to regress any,” Correll said. “I think that’s the main point of this game, yes, we’d love to win it on the scoreboard, but if we can win the battles that we’ve put together this week, then I think, even above and beyond the victory on the scoreboard I’d feel just as good about us doing things right and doing things well.”
That may be a tall order, considering the Rams compiled 208 rushing yards last week against Raton, and held the Tigers to 5 yards of total offense.
Rams assistant coach and defensive coordinator Mark McAfee warned his kids about the danger of being satisfied with that performance.
“I told the kids, I’ve coached here for a long, long time and I don’t know that we’ve ever dominated anybody defensively like we did Raton Friday night, and I just hope that we build upon that experience and not become complacent,” McAfee said.
According to McAfee, the Ram defense will get a solid test on defending the run against Slaton.
“They’re a power football team,” McAfee said. “They’re running what, I guess, everybody in West Texas calls the ‘hammer’, where they pull back a guard and toss it, and bring everybody around the edge, and so we’ve worked real hard on that. It’s going to be smash mouth football (tonight) and I hope we’re up to meet the challenge.”
When the Rams have the football, expect them to throw the ball more than they have earlier this season.
“We’re going to have to spread them out a little bit, to try to negate some of their size, they’re pretty big,” Correll said. “We’re going to do what we do, we want to throw the ball with a little bit better efficiency this week, and we’ve worked that very hard this week with Chris (Mosier) and the receivers.”
And taking a page from Friday night’s win at Raton, Correll wants to get the lead, and then control the clock with the running game.
Turnovers and penalties have also been a theme through the Rams first three games of the season, in the Rams season opener at Las Vegas-Robertson, the Rams fumbled the ball at the one-yard line, and last week at Raton, junior quarterback Mosier threw three interceptions. Correll wants that trend to end.
“We still want to focus on scoring, and putting together long drives, and not shooting ourselves in the foot, that’s what we’ve done so far,” the first-year head coach said.