It was a weekend of first for me in Germany… some good, some bad and some just interesting.
First, I’ll get the bad out of the way. Last weekend, I lost two more games as a German coach than the entire time I was here in 2015. Saturday’s ‘friendly’ loss against the Karlsruhe Engineeers was frustrating and unexpected.
We had every reason to beat this team… playing in front of our home crowd and a member of the GFL 2, while the Engineers are new to the 3rd league. We have two import coaches and four import players, while Karlsruhe is entirely made up of German volunteers. Statistically, at least on offense, we looked good, gaining 500 total yards, with quarterback Will Benson completing 17 of 22 passes for 300 yards and running back Lennies Mcferran rushing for around 200…but six turnovers were the difference.
A muffed punt return led to Karlsruhe first score, a fumble by on our own ten early in the 4th gave the Engineers a late lead and two intercepts stopped potential answering drives. Adding to the frustration were two touchdowns brought back by penalties and having the clock run out on us on the opponents’ 10 yard line at the half… We had a dozen execution mistakes that made the difference between a win and the 42-35 loss.
None of this takes anything away from the Karlsruhe Engineers. They deserved to win as much as we deserved to lose. Despite having less talent, they plugged away and didn’t shoot themselves in the foot, taking advantage of what we gave them. Congratulations Engineers, it was a great win for your program and I wish you success the rest of the way.
For us, I’m glad this was a ‘friendly’ (European for a non-league game, with even less status than non-league in the States, as friendly’s don’t go on the official standings). The game exposed a lot of weaknesses and should be a great wake up call for the Razorbacks.
Now the good. It’s unusual to say any loss is ‘good’, but the developmental Razorbacks loss to the Kuchen Mammuts was very encouraging, and, but for the final score, a lot of fun.
This was the first ever game for the farm Razorbacks. Many of our players only put pads on for the first time a month ago. With different parts of this team practicing on different days in cities an hour and a half apart, we had no idea what we had. My starting o-linemen were determined an hour before kickoff, by one-on-one competition during warm-ups.
Given that the Mammuts are an established team, I was afraid that the game might be ugly. But, the Razorbacks played outstanding defense and moved the ball well at times. After taking a 6-6 tie into the half, the Mammuts put the game away in the 4th quarter to win 20-6. I’m excited that we plays four full quarters and that we did so many good things. Yes, we also made some awfully big mistakes, but what can you expect from a brand new team?… some of whom were not only playing their first game, but playing in the first game they had ever seen. We have a lot of things to work on, but it was a great start for the new team.
Now the interesting… This is the first time in my coaching career that I’ve called offense for two teams on consecutive days… how often do you have that opportunity in the States? Where my last trip to Germany felt like a vacation with a little work…due to the spread out schedule and fewer practice days, this is much more intense, some leisurely mornings, but few days off. I’m good both ways, I miss being on ‘vacation’ but the coaching is challenging and a lot of fun.
Other interesting…at least to me.
After the developmental game, I got my first brief look at our towns’ baseball team, the Ravensburg Leprechauns as they warmed up for a game against the Stuttgart Reds. It was strange but cool to hear baseball sounds in Germany, bats hitting the ball and the slap of leather of a glove. I was impressed that many of the Leps actually could swing the bat. I’m told that Stuttgart is the national champion and have no idea how the game turned out. I had thought about staying to watch…but it was a long weekend for me and I was tired. Happy Easter!