There is no way to sugar coat where the Red Wolves find themselves at his moment in the season. It’s a position nobody inside or outside the program expected to be after four games. However, what you want or expect doesn’t change the reality. The only thing that changes the reality is changing the course of your season, starting with this week. Nobody inside the program doubts the coaches’ or players’ resolve to work to get better, and work to change their course. There’s no better way to find out exactly what all of that means or what can be done than hear from the man in charge of righting the ship. Once again, Head Coach Blake Anderson sat down with AStateNation for “The 5th Quarter with Coach Anderson” to discuss his thoughts on the game and how they move forward from here.
The 5th Quarter – Central Arkansas
1st Quarter: What was the vibe in the locker room last night and into today, in terms of how the team is sticking together through this adversity and whether or not they are indeed sticking together? – “I think they have done a really good job, through immense disappointment, of not pointing fingers or placing blame on each other at all. They have stepped up and taken ownership of the part they play and they’ve been accountable to each other. The guys had a players-only meeting today, and everything I’ve sensed from the guys following that meeting is what you want to hear as a coach. The current situation is not acceptable. They demand more of themselves, and they want to put in the work to get better. I heard a lot of what we’ve been telling them in terms of needing to do their individual jobs in an unselfish way in order to give more to the greater good of the team. It’s really about focusing on what’s inside these walls. They’re frustrated, disappointed, hurt and every other word you can think of about where we sit right now in the season. We all are. But they’re taking the right approach moving forward. They’re asking “What can I do to help this football team,” and I believe in their resolve and I believe in my guys to get it done.”
2nd Quarter: From a coaching perspective, what changes do you think need to happen in how you and the staff help right the ship and change the trajectory of the season? – “The best thing we can do is find ways we can simplify what we’re doing to create confidence for each player in what they do at their position. We have to get them past the point of getting bogged down and thinking too much instead of just reacting and making plays. We need them to just know the technique they need to use, know the assignment and just cut loose and play. We’ve got some really good athletes that are letting indecision, and in some cases, lack of experience, get in the way of them using their athleticism to excel on the field for this team. So that’s our job as coaches. Yes, players make plays and they need to execute what is coached. But when it’s not going that way, it’s our job and our responsibility to remove those barriers, put them in favorable matchups and put them in places where they can be the most successful on game day. Every team is different. You can’t do a cookie-cutter approach each season. There is a specific formula that enables a team and each specific player to be successful, and as coaches, it is on us to find that formula for this team, this season.”
3rd Quarter: You mentioned the players had their own meeting today where they discussed what they want to do to change the course of this season. What did the coaches discuss in their meeting? – “We watched every single ounce of tape from this game. We have to ask ourselves one of two questions on every single play, every single assignment and every single mistake. Was this a situation where we put the player in the right position but they didn’t use the technique or do what they’ve been coached to do in that situation? Or, on the other side of that equation, are we putting them in a position where we’re asking them to do something they can’t do? Every single play and situation that did not go well has to be run through that filter. Is it something they can do and have been taught to do, or is it something they can’t do, and it’s our fault for putting them in that situation in the first place? Answering those two questions and answering where we can solve those issues is something we spent all of our time talking about in our meeting. It doesn’t matter what players could do it in the past or how they did it in the past. As I mentioned above, as coaches, it’s our job to figure out those answers for this team and these players. We have to decide what can get taught and then replicated on the field in the game. We have our whole conference season ahead of us. We are judged here by winning conference championships. We won it all doing it one way last year with a lot of the guys in that locker room, but now we have to find a way how to coach this team to do it this season. Then we have to go out, one week at a time, and do it. I believe in these guys and it’s our job to get them there.”
4th Quarter: What part of all of this, meaning the season, the results, the adjustments needed, do you put on yourself? – “All of it. Every single bit of it. It starts with me. It has to and it falls on my shoulders first and foremost. I want to find ways to help in everything. I want to help the defensive room, the offensive room and the special teams. I need to lead and I need to find ways I can get better and find ways every coach and every player can get better. Everybody has their job, and everybody in their different roles has what they’re in charge of doing to get us better, but it all starts with me. Nobody is more disappointed with where we are at than me. This is not what I want for these coaches and this is not what I want for our players. This is what I signed up for and it’s my job to get it right. Period.”
Overtime: After shaking hands with the crowd as you normally do, what was going through your mind between there and the moment you entered the locker room? – “All I was thinking about was leading with integrity. We’re all disappointed, broken-hearted and nobody wanted to see the position we’re in right now. We’re in this together as one. I thought about them and the need to lead them through the most difficult situation some of them have ever been in. But I want to lead them the right way. I didn’t want lose my temper or overreact without the having the benefit of watching the tape. I didn’t want to say anything I would regret. I’m hurting. They’re hurting. But we have an opportunity to correct this and change our course. So I thought about getting across to them the need to come together and lift each other up, because nobody else is going to do that for us. I didn’t want to lose my witness. I don’t want to only love the Lord when things are good and the same goes for this team. I need them to know I love them when we’re down and I love them when we’re up. I didn’t want to lose track of who I want to be as their coach and their leader. I may have been walking off the field to boos and people screaming at me, but that’s not who I will be to these players. I just concentrated on staying composed and letting the kids know that I love them and we still believe in them. We’re going to do this thing together.”
AStateNation would like to thank Coach Anderson for his time. Look for the next edition of “The 5th Quarter with Coach Anderson” in two weeks after the Georgia Southern game.null