Mid-season report card: not quite there yet


When Jeff Miller grades his mid-season report card, he sees a team that is improving, but not close to where it needs to be to compete at a higher level—where he believes they can be.

Standing at 2-3 at the midway point in the 2013 season, the Tigers certainly have had their opportunities to make an argument for a 5-0 record, but have been a play here or a penalty there from earning the perfect mark.

“Consistency is the first thing that jumps out,” said Miller, in his eighth year at Rockdale. “When we do what we’re taught to do we’re pretty good at it. When something doesn’t work, so many players say, we’re going to do our own thing.”

Strangely, the Tigers best outing was in the season opener against Salado, a crisp, dominating, 47-21 victory.

“That the closest we’ve come to playing a perfect game,” Miller said. “But, no, not at all, we haven’t put together a complete game.”

Jeff Miller would like to see his Tigers cut down on the untimely penalties. Jeff Miller would like to see his Tigers cut down on the untimely penalties. In all three losses, the Tigers either had the lead or the opportunity to tie or take the lead.

They led Cameron 33-24 in the third quarter. They were tied with Liberty Hill early and had a chance to tie the game at a critical junction later, but an offensive pass interference call at the 4-yard line squashed that opportunity.

Against Burnet, the Tigers had the ball three times in the red zone and came away with just three points after a fumble ad two dropped touchdown passes.

The Tigers have been hampered by a slew of dropped passes and mis-run pass routes.

In all five games, win or lose, the Tigers have outgained their opponents on offense.

“Our red zone offense has improved a lot,” Miller said.

“We have to eliminate the penalties. We are not necessarily a heavily penalized team, it’s just the timely penalties. It has been a factor in the losses.”

While Elijah Brooks is coming off an impressive 114-yard, five touchdown performance against Smithville, Miller is eager to have the Tigers fine tune their run blocking.

“That’s one thing we need to improve on is run blocking. We have got to be able to run the ball. We’ve got to be more committed to blocking.”

Defensively, Miller believes the unit is on the cusp of being very good.

“Our defensive ends are doing a good job, the linebackers are improving on their reads, the defensive backs are more consistent, but, we’re not where we need to be in any of these areas. They need to trust what we are telling them.

“One missed play can cause a gap we can’t overcome.”

Part of the defense’s improvement is the progression of linebacker James David, who is getting closer to being 100 percent after recovering from a knee injury.

He is leading the team in tackles along with defensive back Ladontice Coates and is starting to fly around the field again, chasing down ball carriers, instead of fighting off blockers.

He had his first two sacks of the season last week against Smithville as he and his defensive cohorts limited the Tigers to 55 yards rushing.

Like David, the Tigers are getting closer to greatness.

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