Dean Cokinos is no easy football coach to impress.
While New Orleans VooDoo receiver Larry Beavers on Saturday night tied a franchise record with a 58-yard kickoff return for a touchdown against Cleveland, Cokinos was quicker this week to recall Beavers’ dropped passes and other miscues during the 70-42 loss.
Cokinos’ message: Being great at one aspect of the game and under average — perhaps even average — at another is not enough.
“This is Ironman football,” said Cokinos, who is in his first season as coach of the VooDoo. “You’ve got to be a complete player. There were a lot of dropped balls, a lot of bad routes. There were some good things on special teams, but we need to play better. We cannot drop the football on offense. You just can’t do it.”
The VooDoo were hoping to start an Arena Football League season 2-0 for the first time since the inaugural season of 2004, but instead head into Saturday’s home game against the Orlando Predators at 1-1. Kickoff is 7 p.m. at the Smoothie King Center.
“Special teams is great; it’s one of the big parts of the game,” said Beavers, who also caught four passes for 51 yards. “But overall, I feel like this week, I’ve got to play 10 times better to help my team out, to help us get a win.”
Marcus Smith led the VooDoo in receiving with eight receptions for 131 yards and two TDs).
Quarterback Adam Kennedy (243 yards, three TDs) was sacked five times against Cleveland, which reached the ArenaBowl last season.
“Coach (Cokinos) told us to keep our head up,” Kennedy said. “You win some, you lose some. That’s how this game is. I think the game kind of got away from us late, but we did some good things early.”
Trailing 42-28 at halftime, the VooDoo were outscored 28-14 in the second half. Cokinos said a combination of trailing late, as well as injuries on the offensive line led to protection breakdowns.
“If you don’t block, you can’t play,” Cokinos said. “That’s end of story. If your guys up front aren’t blocking, there is no (quarterback and receiver) timing.”
Orlando sets mark
Orlando is coming off a record-breaking rushing performance, a feat which is rare in a pass-first league.
At Jacksonville, Orlando scored seven rushing TDs, an AFL single-game mark.
Quarterback Bernard Morris rushed for 13 yards and four scores, fullback Michael Simons had 23 yards and two TDs and starting quarterback Randy Hippeard added a score on a 1-yard run.
Led by Hippeard (447 passing yards, nine TDs this season), Orlando is averaging 59 points a game, third in the Arena Football League. New Orleans ranks ninth (46.5). For the season, Orlando has eight rushing scores, averaging 31.5 rushing yards per game (third in AFL). Jacksonville (40.5) leads the league in rushing yards per game. New Orleans is fifth (29.0).