Even with two weeks off to prepare, Woodstock (0-3) will be playing a Walton team boosted by playing its first home game of the season, and the bitter taste of a lopsided loss to North Cobb last week.
More than worrying about a game plan for the Raiders (2-1), Woodstock coach Brent Budde was concerned mostly over the past two weeks with fixing its own issues.
“I’m looking for constant improvement,” Budde said. “I’m looking for a complete game without mistakes. The first couple of weeks were blown assignments. Then, the Kell game, I don’t think we blew as many assignments, but we made some bad plays on special teams and had a whole bunch of penalties — nine penalties.
“We can’t keep shooting ourselves in the foot. We have to put together a complete game and be fundamentally sound throughout the game.”
Still, Walton presents a challenge that Woodstock likely won’t see again this season in running back Tyren Jones. After consecutive games of more than 300 rushing yards to begin the season, the Alabama commitment was held to 183 last week.
“I think, definitely, (the defense has) to do their assignments,” Budde said. “If we lose a gap, (Jones has) great vision and the speed to hit the gap. We have to hold our gaps and get a whole bunch of people to the football. And that’s what North Cobb did to him.
“It’s going to be hard to bring him down with one guy. We’ve got to get five or six on him with every snap.”
Like most of the teams that play Walton, Woodstock will likely play closer to the line of scrimmage in order to stop the running game. When asked if he was concerned about whether or not that would open up the passing game — which is helmed by Alabama-bound quarterback Parker McLeod — Budde didn’t think so.
“It might,” he said, “but that’s not what (Walton wants) to do. They want to hand the ball off a bunch of times. You can’t stop the run and the pass. We’re going to try and get in there and stop the run, then defend against the pass.”
Walton coach Rocky Hidalgo cast no doubt about that his plans for tonight’s game would be. After hearing criticism following the loss to North Cobb, he said that the Raiders would not be changing much about the offense.
“I think we throw the ball just fine,” he said. “I know it’s sexy to do what other people do and throw it 50 times. Our issues weren’t necessarily offensive. … I’ve been at Walton for 16 years, and for 16 years, there have been people wanting us to throw the ball more. It just is what it is. People think throwing the ball is sexy. It’s cooler than what we do.
“But it’s not what we’re about. As long as you’re winning, they don’t care. As soon as you lose, they ask you to throw the ball more. It’s about what you’re good at. We believe in a physical running game and a play-action passing game. Last year, when we were 14-0, people were saying we needed to throw the ball more.”
Woodstock’s offense has only scored 26 points in three games, but Walton’s defense has given up 24, 35 and 49 over its first three games. Still, the Raiders could present Woodstock with problems offensively, and the Wolverines will likely make some adjustments this week.
“I think we’ve been working hard in the last couple of weeks on trying to spread it around a little bit more,” Budde said. “We just haven’t been able to run the ball down the middle. We have to get it out on the edge via the run and the pass. We have to be unpredictable. We’ve got to keep them off balance with that.”
In their game plan to cause confusion on offense, the Wolverines will use multiple pre-snap looks, including the pistol offense and an option offense that starts under center.
“That’s where we had the most success against Kell,” Budde said. “We ran well out of the shotgun. I think we are going to keep using that to our advantage. Then, we are going to go get underneath the center. It’s just a change of pace.”