Flashes try to shore up run defense

Published 10:45 am Wednesday, August 27, 2014

St. Aloysius' Connor Smith (7) tries to  tackle Cathedral's Dee Fleming during last week's game. St. Al gave up more than 400 rushing yards in a 42-31 loss. (Paul Ingram/The Vicksburg Post)

St. Aloysius’ Connor Smith (7) tries to tackle Cathedral’s Dee Fleming during last week’s game. St. Al gave up more than 400 rushing yards in a 42-31 loss. (Paul Ingram/The Vicksburg Post)

That his St. Aloysius team lost its opener wasn’t all that distressing to coach BJ Smithhart. They faced a quality Cathedral team in a rivalry game, and the match was probably a toss-up on paper.

The way in which the Flashes lost, however, has put a bit of a grimace on Smithhart’s face — especially since their next opponent has a lot of similarities to the first one.

St. Al gave up 412 rushing yards to Cathedral and never could catch up after falling behind by three touchdowns early in the game. The Week 2, opponent, Pisgah, employs the same type of outside, speed-based rushing attack that Cathedral gashed the Flashes with, and finding a way to stop it is priority one heading into Friday’s game.

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“I hope those guys are humbled and will work harder as a defense. Even though (Cathedral) was running outside and not between the tackles, we weren’t setting up real well,” Smithhart said. “That’s an area we’ve got to shore up, is perimeter run defense, and we’ll definitely get another crack at it.”

While run defense is a concern for the Flashes, they did pretty well with their run offense against Cathedral. Both DeMichael Harris and Connor Smith rushed for more than 100 yards, and St. Al averaged 11.3 yards per carry as a team.

That gaudy average included three touchdown runs of 40 yards or more.

Although appreciative of the big plays, Smithhart said they also contributed to the defense’s struggles by giving the ball right back to Cathedral. The Flashes had a hard time moving the ball when they weren’t ripping off long runs, he added, which put even more of a burden on a tired, slumping defense.

“We’d either get a three-and-out or bust a long run. We never got in a rhythm. Never got in sync as much as we wanted,” Smithhart said. “We’ll take the big plays all day. That’s one thing we haven’t had in the past. Hopefully it’s a sign of things to come. We have to do a better job getting the other team out of a rhythm.”

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St. Aloysius at Pisgah

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 140-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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