Stephenville head coach Joe Gillespie and his Yellow Jackets will never be in the Rose Bowl, but a drill named for the game may be just what they need.
Gillespie says the start of games and the start of the second halves have proven costly to the No. 6 Yellow Jackets through two contests this season.
"Especially the start of the second half," Gillespie said. "Anybody who was at Aledo Friday night knows what I'm talking about. We can't come out and start the new half that way against anyone, especially not a team of that caliber."
The Rose Bowl drill is a 10-minute "good-on-good" offense vs. defense drill.
"It's our offense and our defense, and we're not running scout team stuff," Gillespie explained. "We're running Stephenville stuff, and I'm the only guy out there with them. I'm the referee, and everything goes to my whistle."
Gillespie introduced the drill to begin practice Monday, simulating the energy needed at the start of a game. He used coming out of a water break in the middle of practice Tuesday to simulate the start of the second half.
"It worked great (Monday). I mean we competed and got after it and really started the day with great tempo and intensity," Gillespie said. "And as soon as we broke out of it and went to our individual groups, we were there in a matter of seconds getting back to work. The intensity was great."
He hopes the intensity will be replicated at the start of the game - and especially at the start of the third quarter - in Dallas Saturday, when the Jackets face Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) Dillard at 1 p.m. in the Lone Star Sports High School Football Classic at John Kincaide Stadium.
"We're focusing on us right now, not our opponent. We're never going to stop watching film, scouting opponents and putting a game plan together each week, but our primary focus is on us," Gillespie said. "Our biggest concern right now is our execution, and at those two times of the game, it hasn't been good."
Stephenville had two golden opportunities to seize early momentum - and a sizeable early lead - at Aledo. The Yellow Jackets fumbled the ball and turned it over on their second play after an interception and 40-yard return by Malik Taylor ended Aledo's opening possession. The Stephenville defense stood its ground after the fumble, and Aledo quickly punted. On its second possession, Stephenville couldn't convert a fourth-down pass attempt that would have moved the ball inside Aledo's red zone.
"Capitalize on opportunities when you have them," Gillespie said. "You have to capitalize against any team, but you really have to do it when you're facing Aledo, because that's a great football team. You aren't going to get a lot of opportunities against them, so you better take advantage of the ones you do get."
The Rose Bowl drill is all about capitalizing.
"It's two five-minute segments, 10 minutes in all, and that's all the time you get to make something happen," Gillespie said. "There isn't time in there to wait for someone else to make it happen, you have to go do it. That's one of the big things we're preaching right now, is to be the one to make something happen, not waiting on a teammate to do it."
He hopes the benefits of the drill will pay off, not just on Saturday at Dillard, but throughout the season.
"I'm not going to say we'll be a completely different football team by Saturday, but we'll be a better one," Gillespie said. "Now, six weeks down the road, I do believe we'll look back at that loss to Aledo and say, 'We are the team we are today because of what we learned that night and how we've progressed from it.'"