STRASBURG – Every football team wants to see improvements from their first week to the second week of the season and Strasburg definitely saw that in its game with George Mason on Friday, especially on the defensive side.
Strasburg assistant coach and defensive coordinator Tripp Lamb said he was pleased with what he saw from his defense against George Mason. The Rams were sluggish at times in their season opener against East Hardy on Aug. 30.
“I thought we really flew to the ball, which is the strong point of our defense, getting 11 guys to the ball,” Lamb said before Tuesday’s practice. “And then getting them there quickly, having them run with a purpose to the football and when they get there doing some damage. I thought we did a better job of that on Friday than we did against East Hardy.”
Strasburg (2-0) has allowed just 16.5 points per game this season. Strasburg senior linebacker Jalen Bray has 18 tackles and one interception, which he returned for a touchdown to lead the Rams on defense. Strasburg senior linebacker Da’Neil Holliday has 17 tackles with a forced fumble and a fumble recovery for Strasburg.
Lamb said that the team started off slow on defense in the first game and he believes part of that was due to the team installing a new offense (the straight-t formation). Many of Strasburg’s players play both ways and now that everyone is grasping the offense he expects to see the defense keep improving.
“Now that we’ve got the framework for that laid down, and that’s really started to pick up, hopefully we’ll start to play a little better on defense,” Lamb said. “I think we took a step in the right direction on Friday night against George Mason.”
PERFECT TIMING: The Rams have a bye week this week and Lamb said it couldn’t have come at a better time. He said it’s enabled some of Strasburg’s players who were a little banged up to get healthy.
Lamb said the Rams will spend the first couple days of the bye week working on themselves and trying to get better.
“We’re kind of focusing on us for the first couple days,” he said. “Then I would say at the end of the first week we’ll use a couple days to kind of focus on Central (who Strasburg hosts on Sept. 20). But right now, for the first couple days, we’ve got some things that we need to fix as a team and we’re really focusing on that.”
One area the Rams improved on from the first week to the second week was penalties. The Rams were called for nine penalties in the season opener, including numerous ones for being offsides, but had only one penalty in the second game.
Lamb said he’s been pleased with how the players have worked hard and improved with each practice this season.
“I think with every single practice that we’ve had, we’ve been better than the last one,” Lamb said. “That’s all you can ask for. So hopefully, with this week coming up, we can fine-tune some mistakes that we made against George Mason and come out firing on all cylinders next week against Central.”
Even though the Rams are off to a good start, Lamb said that the team understands that they still have a lot of work to do and improvements to make.
“It’s definitely a good feeling to be 2-0 and have strides that you still need to take because you could be 1-1 or 0-2,” he said. “So we’re definitely pleased with the record and we’re pleased with where we are right now but obviously – the coaching staff and the players – we have pretty big goals for this year. And we know what it’s going to take to get there and we’re just focused on taking those steps so that we can reach the goals that we have set.”
BACK IN ACTION: Strasburg senior wide receiver/defensive back Trevor Sager returned to the Rams’ lineup against George Mason after missing the season opener due to an injury he suffered during baseball season.
Sager only played a few plays on offense against the Mustangs and had one catch for 17 yards. He played most of the game on defense and had two tackles. Lamb said that Sager should be 100 percent healthy and play both ways next week against Central.
“He’s 100 percent now and two good weeks of practice with him really changes the dynamic of our team, because he’s a pretty special player,” Lamb said. “He is a very strong leader for us. And when you have a kid like him on defense that can run like he runs and tackle the way that he tackles it really changes things X’s and O’s-wise that you can do when you’ve got a guy like him out there on the field.”
Last year Sager had 28 receptions for 404 yards and nine touchdowns. He also had 68 tackles and one interception.
“He’s a special player,” Lamb said. “He’s a tough player and he’s a really good kid. And we’re glad that he’s back and that he’s 100 percent (healthy).”