His team rushed for less than three yards a carry, his quarterbacks completed less than 30% of their passes, and his defense gave up 388 yards.
But Glendale College Coach John Cicuto remained upbeat after the Vaqueros' 24-14 season-opening loss to Pasadena City College on Saturday at Glendale High.
The nonconference loss snapped Glendale's nine-game winning streak from last season, and it was the third season-opening defeat in a row to Pasadena.
"We had a lot of freshmen playing out there today," said Cicuto, an unbridled optimist. "We had a lot of new people, but overall, I thought we did a pretty good job. I was pleased with the way the kids came back."
Glendale, playing without tailback Bobby Webster (sprained ankle) and wide receiver Joe Wade (concussion), trailed, 17-0, early in the third quarter but scored twice on pass plays to narrow the deficit to 17-14 entering the final period.
Freshman quarterback Mike McMullen hooked up with freshman Angel Martinez on a 31-yard post pattern, then McMullen and former Kennedy High teammate Keith West teamed on a 73-yard pass-and-run play during the Vaqueros' next series with 1 minute 3 seconds left in the quarter.
West ran a slant pattern over the middle, broke defensive back Stefan Crutchfield's tackle near midfield, and raced untouched to the end zone.
"We're definitely ahead of where we were at this time last year," Cicuto said. "It's obvious that we can pass the ball. Last year, it took us a while to get that aspect of our game going."
McMullen (6-foot-5, 200 pounds) completed eight of 25 passes for 202 yards and two touchdowns. He threw one interception, on the final play of the game.
"I was real nervous in the first half, this being my first junior college game," McMullen said. "But I started to settle down in the second half. The guys made it real obvious at halftime that they were behind me 100%, and that helped. . . . I viewed this game as a big learning experience, as a chance to see how much of a difference there is between the high school and junior college level."
Glendale had the momentum entering the fourth quarter, but Pasadena ground the Vaqueros down in the final period, marching 56 yards in nine plays--capped by Derrick Holmes' 22-yard touchdown run with 8:12 remaining.
James Malbarough (13 of 24 for 171 yards and a touchdown) began the drive with two incomplete passes before hitting tight end Ryan McGrath for 13 yards. The Lancers kept the ball on the ground the rest of the way.
Holmes, a JC Grid-Wire preseason All-American, gained a game-high 137 yards in 18 carries and the Lancers rushed for 214 yards. Holmes also had four receptions for 51 yards.
"I think we just got tired in the fourth quarter," Cicuto said. "We can't keep our defense out there that long and expect them to stop every drive."
Glendale got the ball back three more times after Pasadena's final score but could not produce any points.
Pasadena led, 10-0, at halftime after a scoreless first quarter.
The Lancers marched 51 yards in eight plays to take a 7-0 lead with 10:55 left in the second period. The left-handed Malbarough found McGrath with a 16-yard pass over the middle for the score and also had completions of 17 and 14 yards during the drive.
Damon Martin kicked a 26-yard field goal on the last play of the half for Pasadena's other points.
McMullen and Eric Kiesau--who shared time at quarterback in the first half--were a combined one for seven for two yards at the intermission.
The Vaqueros have a bye next week before traveling to Bakersfield for a Western State Conference opener against the defending Southern Division champion.
Webster (1,506 rushing yards and 23 touchdowns last year), and Wade (17 receptions for 165 yards) are both expected back for the game against the Renegades.
"I think we're going to have a pretty good football team this year," Cicuto said. "I liked what I saw today."