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Thursday morning QB: Cavs looking for big improvement from opener

Every year at almost every high school and college across Texas and beyond, coaches espouse the theory that their team’s biggest improvement comes between a season’s first and second games.

Reporters never seem to follow up – or maybe editors decide the explanation isn’t worth the space in the paper or time in the broadcast segment. That leaves us wonting for the explanation. What’s so special about the improvement between the first and second game, and for teams with playoff expectations, shouldn’t coaches see significant improvement late in the season as well?

First things first. Why the steep improvement between the first games?

“There is no substitute for the in-game competitive environment,” Lake Travis coach Hank Carter explained Monday. “We prepare for it, we cram for it in all three phases of the game. Everything we can do to really study the opponent so we can learn them inside and out. Then we get to grade ourselves and self-evaluate on how we did. Here was our plan, here’s what we set out to do and how did we do? And we do that in a million areas.”

Carter views each game as a test. Lake Travis actually views each football session – be it practice, scrimmage or game – as a test. Just like class, some tests count more than others. While important, practices and scrimmages even are tests where “the grade doesn’t count,” he said. “The game is the first one where the grade counts.”

The head coach, along with his staff, may be the hardest-grading teacher any of his players have. His standards are high, so high that sometimes a convincing win leaves plenty to be desired. Take Friday’s 48-24 win over Midway.

“We need to be better on the edge defensively,” he explained, talking about rushing the quarterback without allowing him an easy escape route. “This week to be successful, we have to play better on the edge. It’s the same type of athletes, only with a faster quarterback. So, we got exposed in some areas the other night. Some were good playing by Midway and some were poor by Lake Travis. We need to do away with the poor by Lake Travis stuff.”

Offensively, the Cavaliers scored on five straight drives in the second half, but that doesn’t mean the film showed flawless football. Carter wants his hurry-up offense to, well, hurry-up.

“Offensively a point of emphasis is to play with more tempo, more urgency in getting lined up,” he said. “We’re getting the play run at a fairly quick pace but we want to push the tempo. Coach [Michael] Wall varies the tempo and when he wants us to play fast, we want the kids to hop up, give the ball to the official, sprint and get lined up. Those are the things we know we can do better.”

For its part, Copperas Cove has plenty to fix following a 51-14 loss to A&M Consolidated. While young, Carter nows Dr. Jack Welch and his experienced staff will be expecting significant improvement from the Dawgs as well.

“I know the pride they have in that program, and they did not play well Friday night,” Carter said. “I expect them to come out and look like a different team.”

Both coaches understand that improvement can’t stop in week two.

“What we’d expect is to keep making steps every week on getting a little better,” Carter said. “First game was our starting point.”

And each subsequent game gives the football teachers another test to grade and help the team make corrections as the games that really, really count approach.