There weren’t many heads hanging at Merced College football practice this week.
The Blue Devils walked away from Week 2 confident it had given one of the state’s best squads all it could handle. Merced College was equally confident that it had allowed a sure victory to get away.
The response from Bob Casey’s squad was never again.
“The Fresno game meant something to everybody,” sophomore tackle Taj Brown said. “They thought they were going to come in and get an easy victory and we took it to them.
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“They didn’t win that game so much as we gave it away. The focus now is just keep getting better.
“Everybody has a bunch of stuff they still need to work out in Week 2, but for us to play that well already, shows where we can go. Right now we just need to put it all together and get some Ws.”
The Blue Devils (0-2) have learned lessons on both sides of the spectrum in their first two weeks.
They took the field with a lack of focus against Modesto and got hammered early. The next week they failed to finish against Fresno.
Casey is hoping to see the complete package as the schedule turns more favorable. MC’s final eight opponents are a combined 1-15 heading into Week 3, including a winless Golden Gate Conference.
The Blue Devils are hoping the wins start piling up Saturday when they travel to San Jose City College (0-2). Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
“There’s no doubt we need to get things going and start building some momentum,” Casey said. “None of the teams left are pushovers, but most of them aren’t the same caliber as our first two opponents.
“San Jose may not have as many weapons, but they’ve got some speed and skill. We’re going to need to contain things and tackle well. They’ve had some bright spots the first two weeks, but like us, haven’t put a full game together yet.”
The San Jose offense has struggled out of the gate, averaging just 18 points and 205 yards per game.
Wide receiver Kelechi Nwabidia has been one of the few bright spots, catching touchdown passes in each of the first two games.
Quarterback Trevor Mew (457 passing yards) and a Blue Devil offense that is starting to click may be in for another big evening against a San Jose defense that’s surrendering 427 yards per game.
The Jaguars have particularly struggled against the pass, yielding more than 280 yards per game.
One thing the San Jose City squad has done well is force turnovers (four), so Mew and company will need to protect the ball.
“There’s always a little relief that comes from getting the first win,” Brown said. “You kind of get the monkey off your back, but we can’t be content with just winning a game.“We proved to ourselves what we could do last week. Now we’ve got to go show it to everyone else.”
Sean Lynch is a Sun-Star sports reporter. He can be reached at (209) 385-2476 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.