Tim Beckman has tried every trick in the book, but he's still been left scratching his head at the University of Toledo's slow starts this season at the Glass Bowl.
The Rockets have trailed at halftime in all three of their home games this year, leaving their coach dumbfounded and disappointed.
“The last three football games, we have not started out the way I feel is acceptable,” Beckman said. “We've gone different ways of practicing to try to get a jump start, but we'll continue to try to fix the problem of [not] starting fast.”
Last week in practice in the lead-up to the Kent State game, Beckman had the Rockets jump immediately into game-simulated situations after stretching.
Normally, UT (4-3, 3-0 Mid-American Conference) goes through individual drills after walk-throughs and stretching, and saves the scrimmaging until the end of practice.
But Beckman decided to switch it up to get his players going at a higher pace once they take the field, and he had the Rockets practice the same way this week before Saturday night's game against Ball State (2-5, 1-2).
“We've got to continue to practice the ways that we believe we can be successful,” Beckman said. “And that is we practice by starting out fast. Our first two periods of practice are live to get them going and jump start practice the way a game would be.”
The slow starts at home have been especially perplexing considered the way the Rockets performed during their three-game road winning streak to start the season.
“After the Arizona game, in those first three road games, we played outstanding on the first drives and first halves,” Beckman said. “Maybe it's youth. It might be … I don't know. That's what we're trying to figure out so that we start faster. Is it because we were on the road for so long and the kids are a little beat up? I don't know.”
One thing the Rockets do know is that they're not getting ahead of themselves with an undefeated record in the MAC.
All coaches preach a one-game-at-a-time approach to their players, but Beckman has utilized another tactic to make sure the Rockets buy into that mentality.
“Our ultimate goal is to be at Ford Field on December 3 [playing in the MAC championship game],” Beckman said. “That's 54 miles from here. We knew going into last week we had six [more] football games to get to Ford Field, and it's nine miles each step. Well, we've gone our first nine miles, so we're at the border of Michigan. Now this week, we've got nine more miles to go.”
Also keeping the team from growing overconfident is a senior class that's never experienced this level of success in their careers.
“It's one step at a time,” senior linebacker Archie Donald said. “You put every game behind you, because that's the past, and you look forward to the next game. We've all bought into that plan, and it's been working for us.”
Contact Zach Silka at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6084.
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