Coming off its second loss in a row, a 51-0 decision against powerhouse A.C. Reynolds at home, Tuscola football will look to bounce back with a trip to face Asheville this week.
While the loss to the Rockets was a tough one, there were positives and lessons to take away, such as the strong play of the defensive line and linebackers.
“Each game is a learning tool whether it’s a win or loss,” said head coach J.T. Postell. “We certainly had some positives on the defensive side with our D-Line but we also had some issues on the offensive side. So we will definitely use it as a way to identify our mistakes and learn from them.”
The defensive line and linebackers have played well for the Mountaineers pretty much all year, and the team will need its front to be strong again against the Cougars.
“Our D-Line and linebackers really played well Friday night,” Postell said. “I was pleased with their performance, especially after the Smoky game. They were challenged and they responded as a unit.”
The secondary faced tough sledding last week, going against a high-octane passing attack with no backups due to injuries. Postell expects that group to be thin again this week.
“Our secondary is really thin and will be this week as well,” Postell said. “But we just have to make sure those guys are ready to go.”
The Mountaineers have struggled to move the ball on offense in each of their past two games, scoring just seven points combined.
Tuscola will likely have to improve its offense with a different quarterback from the past four games. Junior Nick Rich suffered an elbow injury late in the game against A.C. Reynolds, and is doubtful to play against Asheville.
Fortunately for Tuscola, it will have a player who’s more than familiar with playing quarterback in its offense. Sophomore Coleman Bryson started the first two games of the season at signal caller before moving to receiver, and figures to get the call if Rich can’t go.
Last year, a loss to Asheville marked a turning point for the Mountaineers. After a 37-6 home loss to the Cougars, Tuscola won three of its last four games to finish the regular season 7-4 and qualify for the playoffs.
A big road win here could spark a similar turnaround.
“A win over Asheville would be huge for us, especially on the road,” Postell said. I don’t believe Tuscola has won at their place since 1995.”
While the Cougars are 2-4 on the season and 1-2 in conference, the Mountaineers should expect to face a confident bunch as Asheville topped Enka 48-6 last week.
“We have to be able to move the ball and help our defense by putting some points on the board,” Postell said. “They have some very skilled wide receivers and a very accurate quarterback. We have to limit the big plays and tackle well.”
Tuscola and Asheville will kickoff at 7:30 p.m. Friday.