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Battle at Klahanie


Furious Slips 11-15 vs NexGen, Makes Adjustments

On Monday night, Furious George’s red army assembled at Klahanie field.  Opposite them was NexGen’s comparatively lean roster of all-stars.  But in one game, size counts for nothing; you can only field seven players at a time.  Everyone has enough stamina in the tank for one game, so what matters is how your seven soldiers choose to play the point.  This is a story of our choices against theirs.

First, NexGen is an unapologetically gunslinging team.  As a rule, NexGen shuffles the disc from side to side, popping breaks here and there as necessary, but always looking for an excuse to shoot long.  They are looking to score on a huck, their throwers are lining up the shot at angles and distances that most teams would reconsider, and they take only a reluctant interest in passing to cutters on in-cuts.  To their credit, NexGen’s handlers have the range and the edge control to keep their long options open.  They are equally good at making sure the receiver in question is isolated in his run at the endzone, so they just need to land the disc in space.

Especially on a calm night, that long-distance bombshell to the back of the endzone unsettles the opponent’s defense.  Every cutter-defender knows he has to stand a little closer to his check, to sacrifice a little vision of the field, to react a little more hurriedly to each step taken toward the endzone.  And that subtle anxiety — of having to cover more space than usual — ultimately makes it easier for NexGen to set up their cuts anywhere.

This was Furious’ first serious challenge and a much-needed test before Atlanta, and we chose not to reserve it for our veterans.  With as many rookies as we have, and a tight timeline, practice and development are critical.  We rolled our lines in combinations of roles we expected people to fill, and we studied ourselves as much as our opponents.

Reassuringly, those things that we had practiced so far, we executed well.  We ran with an truncated playbook, but ran those plays well.  We drove up-line with a sense of ownership.  We moved the disc well among the handlers.  On the other hand, on long points, we slipped into bad habits.   When tired, we defaulted to slanting, lateral cuts that sacrificed good field position, instead of using more rewarding strikes and in-cuts.  At the endzone, our cutters let too large a gap open up between them and the handlers. Nevertheless, our effort (the hardest skill to teach) was fiery, and we traded points and breaks with NexGen for the entire first half. We finished evenly at 7-8, starting the second half on offense.

In the second half, we continued to trade points to start, but before long, NexGen had found a working formula.

Joel Bellavance #75

We kept our defenses simple, deploying short transitions and man-to-man schemes.   Although I ached to throw some more exotic formations at NexGen, we stuck to the fundamentals.  For the most part, we played sound defense, and when we could force NexGen to make more than a half-dozen throws, our chances of snatching a turnover were good.  But there were chinks in the armour that we had not got around to fixing yet.  One example thereof was our marking: it could be described as misguided but well-intentioned.

Make no mistake; there was effort in our marks.  Maybe even paranoia.  We had a way of over-guarding the break side, or wrapping around to contest the dumps, at the wrong times, and letting out some devastating hucks instead.  At other times, we applied straight-up, no-huck marks that were still too far away from the thrower to be of practical use, and were too easily broken.  In combination with a cross-field give-and-go scheme they began using vigorously in the second half, NexGen began consistently putting their throwers in power positions.

In the fourth quarter, a few uncharacteristic drops and some tunnel-visioned throws cost us possession.  When we lost it, we struggled to contain NexGen’s improved offensive movement.  So they capitalized on our mistakes and strung several points together.  Down 11-14, we put our D-line back on the field, but failed to contain them.  The game closed at 11-15 for NexGen.

Lessons learned: (i) the need for dynamic marking, (ii)  tenacity and patient vision on offense.

Next lesson: Terminus


Jazz Hands #27

Alex Davis

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