Tuesday, September 07, 2010

SPORTS>>Jacksonville digs in to ground Benton

Leader sports editor

Jacksonville doesn’t have a quarterback controversy.

The Red Devils may play two quarterbacks at Benton on Friday, but there is nothing controversial about it.

Logan Perry started in the 28-14 loss to Cabot in the Arkansas High School Kickoff Classic on Aug. 31, but Tirrell Brown finished.

While coach Rick Russell said both could play at Benton, he isn’t necessarily leaning toward a two-quarterback rotation.

“Logan is still our starter; we were real proud of what he did,” Russell said.

Perry was 12 of 19 passing for 127 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions. Brown replaced him late in the game and went 2 for 6 for 109 yards, a touchdown and one interception.

Most of Brown’s passing yardage came on Jamison Williams’ 91-yard catch and run for the last touchdown of the game with 6:03 left.

“He did a good job when Logan was hurt in the summer,” Russell said of Brown. “He managed the game well for us and he got in and did a good job for us.”

The decision as to which quarterback plays when, or at all, will come from offensive coordinator Barry Hickingbotham, Russell said. But the head coach is secure no matter which player gets into the game on Friday night.

What is of greater concern is Benton’s passing game. After trying to handle Cabot’s run-oriented Dead T, with its multiple fakes and options, Jacksonville’s defense must now adjust to the Spread.

Russell said that means his secondary has to switch gears away from run-support mode into pass coverage.

“We get every one of their passing plays at least five or six times in the course of two and a half practices,” Russell said of the Red Devils’ pass skeleton. “We go over coverages and let them see it over and over and over.”

Benton won just one game last year, was shut out twice and never scored more than 14 points. Bryant beat Benton 45-9 in the “Salt Bowl” on Friday.

Nonetheless, Russell said, preparing to defend Benton after facing Cabot was something like a 180-degree shift. And just because Benton uses the Spread, it doesn’t mean it won’t run out of the formation, it will just be running with a different look than Cabot.

“That’s a tough game to play,” Russell said. “Play after play after play. You’ve got to get back into those multiple set offenses and you’ve got to be able to stop the run when they’re in the running formation and stop the pass when they get ready to throw it.”

Russell, the Red Devils’ long-time defensive coordinator who returned to the program after a year as North Pulaski’s head coach, was pleased that his defense forced four fumbles in the first game and recovered two.

Both fumble recoveries led to scores.

“I was reading in the paper that all teams, pee wee all the up to the professionals, they talk about that turnover ratio,” Russell said. “It’s amazing how the wins coincided with who has the most turnovers.”

Unfortunately, Jacksonville finished the Cabot game at minus one in turnovers thanks to the three interceptions. This week he is hoping the Red Devils pick off a few passes instead of throwing the ball to the other side.

“The speed of the game is going to be different,” Russell said. “They’re going to put some good receivers out there.”