Cardinals continue long road swing to start season
by Carlton D. White
cwhite@mdjonline.com
August 30, 2012 10:01 PM | 870 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Into his second season as Osborne’s coach, Xarvia Smith expected a better performance from his team than what he saw in the Cardinals’ season — opening 28-0 loss at Chapel Hill last week.

Osborne totaled seven first downs, two passing yards and turned the ball over three times while giving up 306 yards of offense to the Panthers, who never punted.

“There were no positives for us coming out of that game,” Smith said. “We have to get better as a team offensively, defensively and on special teams. Chapel Hill just outcoached us. There were no bright spots from that performance. We have a long way to go. I’m very disappointed in the way we played against Chapel Hill.”

Fortunately for Osborne, the season has only just begun and there is time to make the corrections necessary to get wins on the ledger, starting with today’s game against McNair at Panthersville Stadium in Decatur, the second of four road games to start the Cardinals’ season.

Towards that end, Smith and his coaching staff are once again focusing on the fundamentals like they did in the offseason and in preseason camp.

“We have to tackle better, block better and run harder in all phases,” Smith said. “We’re getting back to the basics. We have to cut down on the mental mistakes that we had against Chapel Hill and play sound football.

“We need to do a better job running with the football and passing the football. I feel like we missed three touchdown passes that would have changed the game for us. We simply have to do better.”

It’s likely Osborne will do better. The Cardinals picked up one of their two wins last year in a 23-7 victory at home over McNair.

It’s the season opener for the Mustangs who went 1-9 last year, defeating North Springs 32-0 in the 2011 regular-season finale.

Third-year McNair coach Tywanois Lockett was a former assistant coach under Smith at Cedar Shoals.

“Coach Lockett was my linebackers coach in 2009,” Smith said. “I’m sure he’ll have his kids fired up to play us, and he’ll give them the confidence to think they can beat us. His kids will be ready to play and they’ll play hard. We’ll have our hands full.”

The familiarity the coaches share with one another should make the game competitive, and both have tape on each other from last season. Osborne’s played at least one game already this year, which gives it an opportunity to iron out kinks in the offense, defense and special teams. McNair, on the other had, no doubt scouted the Cardinals and has used that knowledge in its preparations this week.

“I don’t think the scouting will matter,” Smith said. “I tell the kids all of the time that we have to do for ourselves, focus on ourselves and improve ourselves. Our coaches have to coach harder and our players have to work and play harder. It’s about us and what we do.”

Where revenge for last year’s loss will likely be on the mind of the Mustangs, pride will be driving force behind the Cardinals’ motivation for winning.

“Losing to Chapel Hill the way we did just left a bad taste in our mouths,” Smith said.
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