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College football: COC gets its gauge

Cougars to play JCFootball.com’s national top seed

Posted: September 10, 2010 10:33 p.m.
Updated: September 11, 2010 4:55 a.m.
 

You could call it the nation's biggest college football game this weekend - just call it junior college football's biggest game.

College of the Canyons, coming off an easy victory over Antelope Valley College, travels to face JCFootball.com's No. 1 team in the nation, Mt. San Antonio College, for a 1 p.m. game today in Walnut.

JCGridiron.com has Mt. SAC ranked No. 3 in the nation and COC at No. 23.

"There is more pressure on them than us," said COC head coach Garett Tujague. "There's no one that thinks we'll win except for the guys in our locker room."

The Mounties are the defending state and national champions and have the talent to repeat.

Last Saturday, Mt. SAC defeated Victor Valley 61-14 in the season opener.

The game was a blowout by halftime, as the Mounties led 44-7 at the break.

Both sides of the ball got the job done in the victory.
On defense, the Mounties recovered four fumbles and sacked Victor Valley nine times.

Tujague said Mt. SAC's defensive line was a major reason for that success.

"They are big, nasty, mean, fast and strong up front," Tujague said.

Quarterback Nick Lamaison threw for 311 yards and a touchdown and completed 27-of-38 passes.

Lamaison was the Mounties' quarterback in 2008 and threw for 3,479 yards and 36 touchdowns, then left for the University of Tennessee and redshirted in 2009.

He returned to Mt. SAC this season and got rolling early.

But so did COC freshman quarterback Justin Arias.

Arias asserted himself by completing 32-of-51 passes for 358 yards and two touchdowns in the 35-7 win over Antelope Valley College.

With that kind of performance and with the stakes high for this game, the temptation might be to unleash Arias and let him throw early and often.

Tujague said he will be patient.

"I think we're still growing, still learning," Tujague said. "Justin will have some freedom, but we'll stay within the realms of the offensive game plan."

The Cougars did show they had other options on offense.

Three players rushed for at least 68 yards - Ryan Zirbel (68), Arias (77) and Emanuel Osuchukwu (81).

Yet it was COC's defense that Tujague noted first when talking about last week's performance.

"That was unbelievable for having a first game and not having any tape, not knowing what you're getting into," Tujague said. "I thought they did a great job of controlling the football game."

It sounds simple, but Tujague said his team can't turn the ball over, and it will have to control the clock to beat Mt. SAC.

It's early, but this is the gauge.

We'll find out what kind of potential the Cougars have this season.

 

 

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