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Cougars are in a strange spot

COC football needs to win out and have other teams lose to make playoffs

Posted: October 26, 2009 10:56 p.m.
Updated: October 27, 2009 4:55 a.m.
Now mathematics are brought into the picture.

With its 23-6 loss to Ventura College on Saturday, the College of the Canyons football team has to win out and hope for other teams to slip up if the Cougars (5-3, 2-2) are going to make the state playoffs.

If the Cougars fail to make the state playoffs, it would be the first time since 2006.

It’s difficult to admit, but the COC football is in an odd place.

“We’re not close to where we thought we’d be,” said COC head coach Garett Tujague. “I don’t think that the players or coaches need to look to the right or left at the guy next to them. Everybody’s been working really hard. My coaches, the players, the trainers, the equipment guys have been working hard and kept working hard. I think I made a few bad decisions this year and I’ll learn from it.”

Specifically, Tujague said, he grayshirted some players that maybe he shouldn’t have.

He didn’t want to say which players or at which positions, but the Cougars have struggled in certain areas.

It was most evident on the offensive side in Saturday’s loss, when the Cougars lost five fumbles in the game and scored only six points, albeit against a strong Ventura defense.

Nonetheless, it sticks in the coaching staff’s craw that COC has been unable to hold onto the ball this season, as the Cougars have lost 14 fumbles.

“To me, interceptions are going to happen, it’s part of the game. I have zero tolerance for fumbles. To lose fumbles, that is very frustrating to me,” Tujague said.

COC’s frustration boiled over when quarterback Eric Brown was ejected in the fourth quarter after retaliating and taking a swing at a Ventura player.

Brown is suspended for the Cougars’ next game — a Nov. 7 contest against Pasadena.

The Cougars’ struggles on offense have been apparent throughout the season, yet the defense has been the team’s strong suit.

Tujague said there has been no finger-pointing going on within the team and that he will stress to the squad the importance of supporting one another.

Another challenge lies in keeping the players motivated through the rest of the season.

The odds are not in COC’s favor to make the state playoffs.

The Cougars sit in fourth place in the National Division Northern Conference. They would need to get to second place to make it.

In order for that to happen, two of the following things would have to occur: Ventura would have to lose its three remaining games, Allan Hancock would have to lose its two remaining games or first-place Bakersfield College would have to come up short in its final two regular season games.

COC meets Bakersfield in the regular season finale on Nov. 14.

Of course, COC would have to also beat Pasadena Nov. 7.

It has two weeks to prepare for the 3-4 Lancers.

The Cougars still could reach the postseason, as lower-tiered state bowl games are reserved for teams that don’t make the state playoffs.

Regardless, Tujague said if COC makes it to one of those games, it is still a positive.

From here on out though, the coaching staff does have one eye on the 2010 season.

Tujague said younger players could see some increased playing time so he can evaluate them for the future.

Yet he is still very committed to the sophomores who are seeing the most action.

“I want my sophomores to have the ability to have film so they can get out, but we want to look at the young players — get them reps,” Tujague said. “It’s a difficult balance, but at the same time I haven’t thrown in the towel on this season.”


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