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Was last week a wake-up call?

After a week of refocusing, COC is looking to get back to winning ways

Posted: September 18, 2009 10:33 p.m.
Updated: September 19, 2009 4:55 a.m.

College of the Canyons quarterback Eric Brown (7) throws a pass in the Cougars' season opener against Antelope Valley on Sept. 5 at Cougar Stadium. COC is looking to learn from the mistakes made in last week's stunning loss to Santa Barbara City College and rebound against Los Angeles Valley College.

In the cramped office of College of the Canyons head football coach Garett Tujague hangs a white board.

On Monday, it was also cramped.

Word after word filled the board, a sign that there was a lot to discuss after last Saturday's surprising 17-14 loss to Santa Barbara City College.

The Cougars (1-1) are hoping the ship is righted as they travel to Los Angeles Valley College (0-2) for tonight's 7 p.m. contest.

Tujague is confident things have changed.

The offense thus far has sputtered.

COC's defense, though, has been steady.

But not everyone on the team, the coach said, bought into the system.

He took his words from the board into a team meeting Monday and even gave his players an open forum.

Some said there were players who weren't giving their all.

The result - COC shed five players from last week's roster, though none of them were starters.

This week has been about learning from the mistakes of last week.

Tujague gave an analogy.

"As a little kid growing up, your parents tell you don't touch the stove because it's hot. (A kid thinks) ‘I don't understand what that means.' So when no one's looking, you touch the stove. It might've hurt. It might've left a scar. Hopefully Saturday was the hot stove for us. But sometimes you don't learn and keep doing the same things over and over again."

Tujague didn't want to point any fingers for his team's struggles, saying it starts at the top, but he acknowledged the Cougars' offensive woes.

The passing game has yet to be effective and the run game hasn't done much better.

The 41 points the Cougars have put up this year are the fewest in the first two games of a season since 2006.

Those are worries going into the contest against the Monarchs, as Tujague said he identified some solid play from LAVC on its defensive line.

But LAVC head coach Jim Fenwick said his team is still young and looking for an identity, even on the defensive line, where he said the team has been shuffling its lineup.

"We're very young - new staff, pretty much new kids for the most part. We're still trying to identify talent and (get our kids to) learn the system," Fenwick said. "We're growing and our opponents have been pretty tough in Ventura and Bakersfield. We're trying to focus on ourselves and get better."

Valley lost its opener 35-13 to Ventura.

Last week's 55-7 loss was to a Bakersfield team that is ranked No. 12 in the state by the California Community College Football Coaches Association.

In both games, Valley struggled to get its offense going. It has accumulated -5 rushing yards on the season and returning All-American Conference First Team quarterback Brett Visciglia has tossed four interceptions and completed just 45 percent of his passes.

On paper, COC is a heavy favorite.

But it was last week also.

"The kids walked in with arrogance thinking ‘We walk in and wear this uniform and people will bow down.' They won't. Last week was a good indication of that," Tujague said. "(Santa Barbara's) coaching staff got 70 kids that believed they could kick our butts and they did."

Tujague said this game will test how the Cougars deal with adversity.


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