Ultimately, scoring more points is the key to winning football games.
Right behind that is controlling yardage.
But so many other factors go into football success, especially starting 3-0 for the first time since 2006.
A couple that leap from the mind of Granbury head coach Scotty Pugh are turnovers/takeaways and third-down conversions. The Pirates have an advantage over their opponents in both categories.
Another category that can greatly influence the outcome of games is penalties. Yep, the Pirates have a decided advantage over their foes here as well.
THIRD TIME’S A CHARM –
FOR PIRATES, NOT OPPONENTS
When it comes to third-down conversions, the Pirates are converting 36 percent of their attempts (12 of 33). Defensively, they are holding opponents to 9 percent (3 of 31).
“Our guys have a great understanding of the importance of converting on third down,” said Pugh. “When you do that, the defense gets more rest.”
The stats reflect Pugh’s comments.
In their recent 44-41 wild win over Lake Ridge in Mansfield, the Pirates converted eight of 16 third-down attempts. They held the Eagles to two conversions in 10 attempts.
Pugh said successful conversions play a big part in success psychologically, along with altering an opponent’s psyche.
“Anything over five yards is considered third-and-long. If you convert that, it’s big mentally for us and them, but in obviously different ways,” he said.
As for holding opponents, Pugh said limiting the opposition is rewarding – both on the field and off – for his team.
“We make a huge deal about three-and-out,” he said. “We give stickers for those.”
eyes on the ball
Through three games, the Pirates have turned the ball over just once, on a fluke interception. They have taken away three fumbles and have two interceptions.
The lone Granbury turnover this season was the result of an attempt to avoid being sacked. Quarterback Ryan Suitt, one of the top signal-callers in the Fort Worth area, has joked that he would love to have that one play against Wichita Falls back as he flung it toward a receiver, only to have it end up in the arms of a defender.
“He wishes he could have that back, but if that’s our only turnover, we’re doing a lot more right than wrong,” said Pugh. “He’s not going to make many mistakes, I’ll tell you that.”
Otherwise, Suitt has been extremely on-target this season.
Overall, the Pirates have done a solid job of holding onto the ball, and on those rare occasions they don’t they are in the right place to keep it from being turned over. Granbury has only three fumbles this season, and has recovered each one.
As for the opposition, the Pirates have forced three fumbles and recovered all three. While Pugh would like to have even more takeaways, he likes the difference between his team and their foes.
“Sure, we’d like to take the ball away more, but if you have to have one or the other, I prefer to keep the ball,” he said.
“In a perfect world, you’d like both.”
The Pirates have committed 22 penalties through three games for 180 yards. That’s 10 fewer penalties than their opponents, who have been assessed 266 yards in setbacks.
“It says a lot about the discipline of our kids,” said Pugh. “I think that’s still a high number, and we’ve made some mental mistakes that we need to fix before district. We’ve cost ourselves some big plays with penalties.
“But overall, our philosophy is to let them (opponents) make mistakes, and that comes from leadership.”
And whether it’s via a punt or takeaway, Pugh said either way the Pirates get the ball is an edge. Players understand it – and so do the fans.
“Our defensive coaches have done a great job of making kids understand the importance of the change,” he said. “And our fans make a big deal out of it. Our band does a great job of playing and celebrating when that happens.
“That’s a big part of the ballgame, the fans and the band. It’s what I call being knowledgeable fans. They know the game, and they know they can make a difference.
“We’re all in this together. We’re not 3-0 all on our own.”
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