Cooper moves from tackle to guard for Carson
When Matt Cooper learned that he was going to be moved from tackle to guard, his eyes lit up like a marquee on the Las Vegas Strip.
“I kind of wanted to play guard,” Cooper said earlier this week, relaxing in the weightroom before a recent practice in preparation for today’s game at North Valleys. “Guards have more fun in our offense. They get to pull on a lot of plays and read. They wanted Dalton (Simpson) to go to tackle, so it made more sense for me to move.
“I think I’ve made a pretty good transition. You see so many different defenses during the season, you have to be able to make reads and adjust on the fly.”
The move takes advantage of three important qualities needed in the Carson offense – speed, athleticism and intelligence. The offensive line is no place for slow learners.
“We needed to take advantage of his athleticism,” head coach Blair Roman said. “He’s a big guy who runs really well, and that’s what we need in our guards.
“He is a dominant offensive lineman. Right now I equate him to how I felt about Trevor Goodale last year. I have a lot of confidence in him. We’re going to run to his side a lot this year. He and Dalton make a pretty good tandem.”
The move, especially in the Carson scheme, isn’t an easy one. There are different blocks for different positions. The Carson linemen have what assistant coach Pat Houlihan calls “rules.”
“Our offense is complicated,” Carson line coach Pat Houlihan said. “We have rules, and you have to know what everybody else is doing.
“You have to know who to block and who not to block. Just because somebody slips into your area doesn’t always mean you are going to block that guy.”
There were some blips two weeks ago in the opener against Del Campo, but that was to be expected with Cooper playing a new position, starting center Danny Gall out with an injury and three other guys making their first starts up front.
“It usually takes a week or two to mesh (as a unit),” Cooper said. “We have to rep everything up a lot. It’s a finesse offense with a lot of hiding the ball. We’re going to get better as we go.”
Cooper & Co. were able to open up enough holes in the third quarter for Dylan Sawyers to score a couple of touchdowns and break the game open.
Another change for Cooper is that he’s playing on the first-team defense. As a junior, he was a one-way player. He likes the idea of playing on both sides of the ball.
“On offense we have rules and on defense we just react,” Cooper said. “You can’t stand in one place and expect to do anything defensively.
“I’m more valuable on offense. On defense there are a lot of guys working in. Of the two, I’m a better offensive player. I’m more valuable to the team on offense.”