Central Oklahoma coach Nick Bobeck has talked about how his football players need to develop a winning culture, feel good about themselves whether they're on the field or in the classroom. About 20 minutes southwest of Edmond, in Bethany, Southern Nazarene coach Mike Cochran hopes to keep the winning culture from losing a good grip.
UCO took a step in the right direction last week, beating Washburn (Kan.), then the No. 9-ranked team in NCAA Division II.
SNU? A program with five winning seasons in six years under Cochran is 0-4 going into Saturday's 7 p.m. game at Langston. The Crimson Storm is making a painful passage from NAIA to NCAA Division II. Several freshmen have replaced starters from Southern Nazarene's 9-3 NAIA playoff team last year — and the speed of next-level football has been an eye-opener. Especially on offense.
“Out of the five kids we have starting on the offensive line, only one played in our playoff game from last season,” Cochran said. “It can be mentally tough, but we're trying to teach these guys that they need to remain positive. It's a work ethic thing. We have kids that are capable of developing into good players. They need to realize that the hard work they're putting in will pay off eventually.”
Southern Nazarene has just 45 total yards rushing. Running backs Derick Perkins and Chris Hunter have combined for 247 yards, but the Crimson Storm's rushing numbers have suffered as quarterback Dylan Terry, a first-year starter, has been sacked 23 times for minus-192 yards. Last season, quarterback Brady Wardlaw was dropped just 11 times in 12 games.
“But it's not just the offensive line's fault,” Cochran said. “It can be the running backs, too. And the quarterback might hold the ball too long. Everybody on offense can be at fault, not just the line.”
*Unless his throwing arm falls off, Johnny Deaton is sure to top all career passing categories since Northeastern State it became an NCAA Division II member. The sophomore already has 3,424 career passing yards, which is just 908 shy of tying leader Kenny Davis. Deaton has 31 career TD passes, which are four away from Davis' 35; Deaton has 237 career completions, Davis leads with 354.