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Applemen's Cochran wants the ball

September 05, 2008|By CHRIS CARTER

INWOOD, W.Va. -- Just by talking to Musselman senior Casey Cochran, you might think he is a selfish player.

"I feel like, if I don't have the ball then the game isn't going how I want it to go," Cochran said. "I want the ball in my hands."

You could call him a ball hog, that's fine. But someone who wants the ball all the time is worth a lot more than someone who doesn't.

Just ask Applemen coach Denny Price, who moved Cochran from wide receiver to running back in order to get him more touches.

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"We haven't had his type of speed at that position for a while," Price said. "We didn't know how he would handle it, going from wide receiver to running back. Some people have a transition problem with running inside, but he hasn't."

Just as Price will be counting on Cochran, Cochran will be counting on Price.

"Coach Price is a genius. He always thinks of plays, new ways to beat the defense," Cochran said. "I'll have more chances to make bigger plays to help the team."

After all, that is the only objective for the Applemen, who open the 2008 season at home tonight against Loudoun County (Va.).

Cochran's move to running back is part of a larger change for the Musselman offense. The Applemen's shotgun formation will move from single-back, four-wide-receiver sets to a two-back, three-receiver look.

Cochran isn't convinced that the receiving corps will miss him.

"With me moving, another guy will step up," he said. "We have some great athletes at the receiver spot. They have the size and speed to make all the plays.

"This year I was just like, 'I want the ball more.'"

With the formation change, it was a perfect fit for Cochran to move into the backfield, where he still can't be ruled out as a receiver. But the thinking behind the change was to add more of a power game to the offense.

Price expects Cochran to do so, despite his 5-foot-9, 145-pound frame.

"Small in stature, but he's a tough player. Very aggressive," Price said. "He's been a bright spot on both sides of the ball."

Cochran will also change positions on defense. He'll go back to his natural spot at free safety after spending a year playing cornerback.

"It's about the same, but I like safety a little better," Cochran said. "I'm right in the middle of the field so I can read and react better. I like to be a part of every play."

The likelihood of that continues to grow as he will also help handle kick and punt returns.

Still, there is one more role that Cochran is prepared to embrace. One that a young Musselman team just might need.

"Leader," he said. "That's why I like being running back. I feel like I can lead the team more and the younger guys will look up to me. I want to be able to help the other kids out and get their spirits up."




Xs & Os



Offense

Musselman enters the season with a bit of a change to its shotgun offense. Instead of the trend of using four wide receivers, coach Denny Price has opted to go with split backs and three receivers.

But the talk of summer practices has been who will be the signal caller. On the eve before his team's final scrimmage game last week, Price said that any one of three guys that could be the quarterback -- Aron Shiley, Brandon Michael or Korey Jackson.

"I've rotated quarterbacks before. A lot of people think that's not the way to go, but I don't really care," Price said. "It's no different than a guard, tackle or running back, as long as they have control of the football team."

Defense

The Appleman will run an odd stack defense, centered by linebacker Chris Stewart. The junior is listed at 5-foot-11, 238 pounds but plays like a more limber 6-2, 230.

Behind Stewart will be a five-man secondary, keyed by Michael, Jesse Hanes and senior leader Casey Cochran. Cochran, one of six seniors on the starting defense, will play one of the safety positions after playing cornerback last season.

Special Teams

Cochran and Hanes will also be counted on in the return game.

The biggest shoes to fill could be those of Corey Smith, who made field goals of 50-plus yards and will play for the University of Alabama this fall. Junior Jonathan Dudash inherits the job and can hit from over 30 yards, a respectable distance. Dudash will also do the punting for the Applemen.

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