The Meridian Star
Even after outscoring opponents 108-6 over the first two games of the season, East Mississippi Community College head coach Buddy Stephens is seeking improvement.
While Stephens is happy with his team’s recent performance, especially last week’s 59-0 win over East Central, he said he would like more consistency through all four quarters of the game.
“The thing I’m looking for is execution,” Stephens said. “We need to execute our schemes on special teams and execute offensively and defensively as well.”
Tonight, the No. 5 Lions will play their last non-divisional game of the regular season when they host Southwest Mississippi Community College at 7 p.m. The Bears enter the game with a 1-1 record after falling to Itawamba, 40-6, last week.
“I see a well-coached football team,” Stephens said of Southwest. “They are fundamentally sound and they play very hard. They are not going to quit on you. That’s something we know. If we are going to win the ballgame we will have to play four quarters.”
First-year head coach Tucker Peavey will run the Bears out of the spread offense and try to test EMCC’s highly-touted secondary. Sophomore safety Allen Sentimore is second in the nation in interceptions with three, while cornerback A.J. Stamps is tied for fifth with two.
“Our defensive backs are very talented,” Stephens said. “You have two cornerbacks who can run back kicks any time they wanted to, and you have two safeties that can do the same thing. We are very talented back there.”
Offensively, the Lions will look to continue to boost the amount of snaps they take per game. So far, EMCC has averaged 71 snaps per game despite heading into halftime with a commanding lead in both games. Stephens said the increased snap count will help the Lions play at their tempo and also wear down their opponents.
“You go into the ballgame trying to set your pace,” Stephens said. “If we set our pace, we will be fine. Offensively we like to set the tone. We need to get more plays in. If we do that it will keep our defense off the field as long, and it means we are doing our job on defense.”
Last season, EMCC defeated Southwest, 59-7, while piling up 786 yards of total offense. Despite last year’s lopsided result, Stephens said his team will not take the Bears lightly.
“We have got to do our job and work hard at the mental aspects of the game,” Stephens said. “We have to make sure that physically we are ready to play, but also that we are ready to play mentally."