We change up the times today and tomorrow since we don’t have school, so we are able to start practice earlier and that will let us stay out there the entire time that the NCAA allows us to practice on a day.
On the Southern Miss Game:
Going back to the Southern Miss game, it was great to have Samuel Stewart back. He hadn’t played since Western Kentucky and he had a career game with 132 yards, scored three touchdowns. I was also really proud of the job our offensive line did. You go there missing Connor Patterson since the Western Kentucky game, you’re missing your starting center (Trey Martin) and you’re missing Peter Godber at guard. It forced Cory Klingler to play center, forced Isaiah Edwards to play guard and we had to start freshman Joseph Dill at the other guard and Sam Pierce and Calvin Anderson at the tackles. I thought they competed well. They gave up some sacks, but I was really proud of the way they competed and the way they helped Joseph Dill in his first collegiate start.
I thought Tyler Stehling showed a lot of poise in the pocket. He was under duress a lot and made some key plays for us. I liked the way Nate German has progressed in the Owl package for us. He completed two passes out of it.
Defensively, our linebackers really are two of the top linebackers in the conference and are really playing well. Alex (Lyons) and Emmanuel (Ellerbee). I think our corners are playing well. Proud of the defensive line. We went there without Zach Abercrumbia and Carl Thompson. Roe Wilkins stepped up in his first college start and did a nice job.
We’ve got to contain some of those big plays we are giving up. Most of Southern Miss’ offense was on the big plays. For 63 plays we play outstanding football, but on eight plays we give up big plays and you’re not going to win doing that. We’ve got to continue to work in that area.
I’ve got to do a better job. We’ve got to get those big plays down from eight to four. We forced three turnovers.
Looking at the UTSA scores going into the Southern Miss game, they had been really close with Arizona State, lost in a tough one to Old Dominion and they came out and jumped on Southern Miss with big play after big play. They only ran 47 plays in the game.
On Saturday, you turn on your television in the morning and watch the Southern Miss-UTSA game and before you can blink UTSA is up 21-0 on big plays. UTSA is 2-3 on the year. They beat Alabama State and Southern Miss. They played well against Arizona State.
Coach Wilson has done a great job. They are playing with great discipline and are very multiple offensively, jumping out of one back to two backs and running power games. The same defensively, multiple fronts, playing hard and tackling well in space.
It’s a game where we are going to have to play our best to win it. We’ll need to create turnovers defensively and take care of the ball offensively and continue to improve as a football team. Every week we get a little better.
On the open week and getting injured players back:
This week we will get Peter Godber back and that will help us in the offensive line and we get Carl Thompson back on defense. That was key to this week, being able to get some bodies back on the field.
I think we will come back refreshed and re-focused and really play well the second half of this season.
Had we not had the bye this week, Austin Walter would not have been able to play because of the concussion protocol. I don’t know that we’d have had Carl (Thompson) back if we had not had this break. Zach Abercrumbia tragically had wrist surgery last Friday and his season is over. The blessing there is that since he started as a true freshman, we’ll be able to request a medical redshirt on him.
In 2008 and 2013, when we won 10 games each year, we didn’t have a lot of injuries. We’ve had some key ones this year that have really hit our seniors. We lost Connor Patterson. Cody Henessee has been out with an elbow and not sure if he can come back. Darrion Pollard is still out with his foot.
The younger players have to step up, that’s what this game is about. You never win with a healthy club. We had a great week of practice last week. These guys are playing hard and doing everything we ask them to do. That’s encouraging. They’re not pointing fingers, they are uniting in the cause.
I liked the way we worked last week and I liked that we got to take some time off to get refreshed. They need a little time away from us and I think they liked that. I think we’ll come back and play pretty well the second half of the season.
We’re still a young football team player mostly sophomores, but that’s why we get better with every rep. We’re not winning, but I think they can see the improvement and that’s why they continue to have such a great attitude.