“The guys know who’s who and who plays for who,” Johnson said. “We beat Digital last year and I think that was all on their minds. We didn’t come out here sharp. We didn’t come out here focused. It was a quick wake-up call.”
Despite a valiant effort from quarterback Craig Oliver, who finished with 231 passing yards and four touchdowns (175 yards and three touchdowns went to receiver Pete Carter), the Clippers weren’t able to pull out the game against the Rams, falling 35-34. Last year’s score was drastically different, with the Clippers blowing Digital Harbor out 64-20.
Digital Harbor’s game plan was to keep Oliver from making plays with his legs, and the Rams succeeded. Oliver was held to minus-22 yards on the ground as the Clippers only managed 22 total positive rushing yards. Oliver was also forced to play through pain as he sustained bruised ribs in the first half of the game on Saturday.
“We relied on (Oliver) to throw the ball because we couldn’t run the ball,” Johnson said. “He made some nice anticipation throws and took some shots. That was the big thing. He hung in there and threw the ball, knowing he was going to get hit. A lot of quarterbacks won’t do that.”
Johnson said it’s back to the drawing board when practice resumes on Wednesday. He said his offensive line was exposed by Digital Harbor and that he’ll have to re-evaluate who plays on the unit. He said the same thing about the defense in general.
“I’m going to try to find the best 11 tacklers, the best five or six blockers,” Johnson said. “It’s back to basics. Right now we’re 1-1 and that’s the way we have to approach it.”
While Johnson wasn’t pleased with Patterson’s missed tackles on Barnes, Rams cornerback and receiver Devante Conyers said there was a big emphasis on wrapping up Oliver this week.
“We watched film when (Oliver) played (Archbishop) Curley and Curley was arm tackling,” Conyers said. “We practiced all week, just tackle, tackle. You can’t arm tackle him because he’s a strong guy.”
Though it could be easy to dwell on the loss, Johnson said he has to keep his team in the right direction.
“We can’t think of the what-ifs,” Johnson said. “As coaches, we can’t allow the players to do that. We can’t look back. The loss stings, it hurts a little bit. But we have to move forward.”
The game was originally scheduled for last Friday but was moved to Saturday and at Poly due to Tropical Storm Lee. With 8:01 left in the third quarter on Saturday, lightning was spotted, which ultimately suspended the game until Monday.