Warrior defense works on communicating

As the football bounced out of the hands of a wide open Susquehanna receiver, a collective deep breath was breathed on the Lycoming sideline. Simultaneously, three members of the Warriors’ secondary turned and looked at one another trying to figure whose responsibility the receiver was.

It was one of a few breakdowns in communication withing the Lycoming secondary during last week’s 31-point loss to Susquehanna. It was mistakes like that which led to the River Hawks posting 358 yards of offense and 38 points.

“We learned minor mistakes make big problems,” Warriors cornerback Korahn Williams said. “But you can’t point fingers during the game because there’s three pointed back at you. So just fix the minor mistakes and things will be way better.”

On the surface, last week’s lopsided loss looks like a disappointing effort by the Lycoming defense. But considering the tough spots the offense put them in with turnovers, it wasn’t nearly as bad as it would seem.

In fact, four days after the game, head coach Mike Clark called the effort, “pretty solid.” But it doesn’t mean the defense is satisfied with how it played. This week’s test against Widener isn’t going to be any easier than last week’s against Susquehanna, and Williams and his teammates know that.

“Last week is done. This week is a big rivalry week,” said Williams, who recorded five tackles and both forced and recovered a fumble. “Anything can happen against Widener, so it’s important to talk and have a better game.”

The communication is the first thing the Warriors are looking to improve upon this week. Over the past three years the Warriors were able to rely on all-conference safety Mike Ward to make the calls and get the defense in the position it needed to be in.

With Ward graduating last year, Williams said the secondary is still working through the issue. But he’s been a consistent performer for Lycoming the last few years, as has other corner D.J. Boyd and safety Joe Pinzka.

Step one in fixing last week’s issues is not being afraid to be more communicative prior to the snap. A handful of times during last week’s game a receiver was left running free like that first quarter play which left three players looking around in confusion. Williams is hoping to prevent that from happening this week.

“It’s all about communication,” Williams said. “We have to make sure we talk more before plays so we know what we’re doing.”

“I don’t think on either side of the ball you can talk enough,” Clark said. “From a pressure standpoint, when we pressured a couple times we had some miscommunication and those, obviously, can cost you.”

Despite a tough first week, Williams is still confident the defense can turn things around. The challenge this week with Widener doesn’t necessarily get any easier than it was a week ago.

The Pride posted nearly 450 yards of offense last week in an overtime loss to Rowan. It’s an offense which averaged 4 yards per carry and better than 13 yards per reception.

One are Williams said the defense wants to improve is in the red zone. Three times Susquehanna started a drive last week inside the Lycoming 30 following a Warriors turnover. Two of those ended in touchdowns and the other with a Pinzka interception.

“The belief is still there that we can do better things,” Williams said. “Even if it’s a short field, it’s our job to stop them from scoring. That’s No. 1 on our list this week.”