The Red Wolves season got off to a rough start Friday night in a loss to Toledo. A terrific crowd was on hand but the team never got into a great rhythm in any phase of the game due to a lot of self-inflicted errors. The guys in charge of fixing those mistakes, the coaches, know this and got back to work immediately to make those corrections. Head Coach Blake Anderson sat down with AStateNation for the first of this season’s “The 5th Quarter with Coach Anderson” to discuss his thoughts on the game and how they move forward from here.
The 5th Quarter - Toledo
1st Quarter: What was on your mind most when you went to bed Friday night? – “I was just disappointed in the fact we didn’t give ourselves a chance to compete against a great football team. We didn’t perform the way I expected us to perform. We had an unbelievable turnout and the crowd was incredible. I felt like we them down and that hurt. It’s not that you’re going to win every game but I expected us to be more competitive. Bottom line is we have the talent, but we didn’t execute well enough to be competitive and it didn’t feel good when I went to bed that night. It still didn’t feel good the next day.”
2nd Quarter: What did you say to the team in the locker room after the game? – “I told them that we played hard. I thought the effort was good, but we didn’t execute well in any phase of the game. Those minor details in this game that you have to execute play a big part in the results. Luckily, they’re things we can control and correct. But if they don’t come in ready to correct them and fix the execution, then they’re going to be frustrated every week. If we come in ready to work and fix our mistakes then the sky’s the limit for them. We turned around a 1-3 start last season and won our conference. But we can’t just snap our fingers and make that happen again. We have to go out and fight for it. We have to step up and do the things we’re capable of doing to make that happen again. Nothing will be handed to us.”
3rd Quarter: When you and the coaches reviewed the film and analyzed the game, what were the main themes coming out of that meeting as you head into this week’s game prep? – “We agreed that we played with great effort and we’re in shape. We have guys with a high skill level. But if we don’t get a grasp on the details and become a more detail-oriented football team, and do exactly what is asked of them, then it will be a struggle. They need to pay attention to the right landmark, the right gap, the right release, the right step, the right aiming point. I mean, little things like getting the snap to the quarterback have a major impact on our play execution. We had 8 unplayable exchanges between the quarterback and center. That can’t happen. It’s about each guy taking ownership of his specific job on each play. If we don’t do those things then we sabotage ourselves and hurt our chances of being successful. If you do those things then you give yourself a chance to compete and a chance to win.”
4th Quarter: Do you think the veterans played up to their potential and the standard they’ve set here? – “Honestly, I don’t think anybody old or young played to their potential. Our technical performance wasn’t anywhere near what we’re capable of with this roster. We bottled up a really good running back and held him to 82yds. But then we gave up a ton of yards elsewhere due to missed tackles and poor technique. They had 170yds worth of gains were due to missed tackles. We never got anything going on offense. I mentioned the bad exchanges but then we’d miss throws or drop good passes. Never got a good rhythm going. So heck no, we didn’t play anywhere near to our potential. And again, most of it was self-inflicted.”
Overtime: When you met with the team today(Sunday), what was their attitude like and how did you frame to them what moving forward looks like? – “They were down. They knew this was not the start we wanted and they knew it wasn’t because they played well and just got beat. We all know we hurt ourselves. But the positive thing is that everybody came in with an accountable attitude. Everybody took ownership in what they did wrong and what they needed to do to correct it. Nobody was pointing fingers at anyone except at themselves. Guys came in right away and told us they would do better and work even harder. You know, we review the film as a team and analyze everybody’s actions in front of the whole group. There’s nowhere to go and hide. It’s up on the screen for all to see. It can be harsh, and when you have a performance like we had, it’s not fun. So I’d say, even though they were down, they came in with a professional attitude and they’re ready to go back to work. So that pleased me to see their maturity and see their accountability with it all. That speaks to the kind of kids we’ve brought in and the culture here and that’s what you need in situations like this one. This season isn’t over by any means. Not even close.”
AStateNation would like to thank Coach Anderson for his time. Look for the next edition of “The 5th Quarter with Coach Anderson” next week after the Auburn game.