They might have a zero underneath the win column, but you can't tell just by watching the Tigers practice.
WAYNESVILLE – They might have a zero underneath the win column, but you can't tell just by watching the Tigers practice.
As cool weather creeps closer each day, Waynesville football coach Rick Vernon's voice still rings throughout the team's new facility, even during the gloom of a three-week winless stretch.
"On the ball! Let's go!" he screams during practice, making sure each student-athlete is still hungry for a taste of the postseason.
According to Vernon, as regular season weeks crawl by, the Tigers are still working to perfect "the little things" a football team must do to win.
"The little things are what you see when you start watching film," Vernon said. "Those are the things you need to correct to make the bigger things more successful. Hopefully week-by-week those things are starting to take care of themselves."
Defensive assignment and alignment; ball security; offensive blocking scheme; maintaining the line of scrimmage; controlling penalties – all basic fundamental skills that have gotten Waynesville beaten at some point during this young season.
"It's more meshing together as a group, whether it be offense, defense, or special teams," Vernon said. "A lot of times it's stepping the right way on a block, or taking the right angle on a tackle."
The little things.
Vernon highlighted turnovers as a major issue this season as the Tigers have given up possession on several early-game drives, or failed to create takeaways on defense in important situations.
"We have our drills every day during [and after] practice that we use with our players for securing the ball," Vernon explained. "Right now we haven't gotten a lot of turnovers on defense, but it might be a case of the other team securing the ball very well and protecting it."
After committing zero fumbles against Kickapoo a week ago, Waynesville continues to improve.
If the Tigers can solve their turnover issues, Parkview is a very beatable team – at least on paper.
The Vikings utilize balanced play calling out of a spread offense, but the team struggles on the ground, averaging just 75 rushing yards per contest, including a 20-yard performance against Joplin. Through the air, Parkview has had varying degrees of success – 286 passing yards against Kickapoo, but just 124 against Joplin.
In last week's win over Rolla, Parkview amassed just 281 total offensive yards, but had its highest rushing total of the season with 108 yards.
But Waynesville has struggled against the spread. Against Kickapoo, the TIgers allowed 463 total yards (304 passing yards) this past week.
Vernon said his defense must combine proper run-pass reads at the snap with the speed to get into position against Parkview's improving balanced attack.
"If you get yourself out of position [on defense], then the option and pitches are really going to be wide open," Vernon said.
To get the Tigers offense rolling, the offensive line must improve in the same manner.
"First of all, we've played against three very good football teams that are very good defensively," Vernon said. "On the offensive line, it's really that first and second step – whoever gets it, most of the time, is going to be the winner."
Waynesville (0-3) hopes to knock off Parkview (1-2)—which earned its first win over Rolla, 27-20, a week ago—on Friday.
Vernon and the Tigers hope for a win, but are taking the season "game-by-game."
"You can't look back except to correct some things from the past," Vernon explained. "We worked on some things this week that will hopefully get us into the win column."
Friday's kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at Tiger Stadium.