In-depth with Arkansas State's Blake Anderson about the Louisiana game

Fifth quarter with Blake Anderson on last Saturday's game

The Red Wolves hopes of continuing their quest to win the Sun Belt title outright again turned into a nightmare of sorts this past Saturday.  Travelling to and from Louisiana was terrible, but losing the game on a controversial call was worse.  Head Coach Blake Anderson had said all week that this game would be a battle against a very physical team who were playing for bowl eligibility.  He was right, and unfortunately by the time his team got their engines going it was too late.  To his credit, Coach Anderson said they should have won the game before it got to that last play.  He sat down to discuss this game further with AStateNation in this week’s “The 5th Quarter with Coach Anderson.”

The 5th Quarter:  LA-Lafayette

1st Quarter:  What was the locker room like right after the game when you walked in? – “To be honest, it was totally quiet.  Just silent.  They were down as you would expect and really the guys were devastated they let this one go.  We all really wanted to win this thing outright and not share it with anybody else.  When you rack up the offense that we did and hold a player like McGuire to limited production like we did, you would expect to be walking out of there with a win.  But you know, our guys handled themselves well and carried themselves with class afterwards and I’m proud of them for that.  It could have gone bad in a hurry, but they listened to their coaches and handled it all in a mature manner.  I just told them we need to get over this quickly because we have a chance to go out there and win our share of this title and get into a good bowl game.  So I guess they were as good as you could expect after a devastating loss.”

2nd Quarter:  Your team won in every statistical category but the scoreboard.  Where do you think your team fell short in winning this game? – “We didn’t do what we needed to do in the red zone.  We’re down there 4 different times and come away with 3 points.  That’s not acceptable, but more importantly, that’s how you end up on the wrong end of the only stat that matters, which is the score.  We missed a field goal and couldn’t get it in the end zone from the 1 foot line.  Then we turned it over on downs at the end of the game too.  We can’t just move the ball from 20-to-20.  We have to score on those drives.  And then defensively, we played great all day.  But then we gave up a 99-yard drive for a touchdown.  It’s just not something that we normally do.  And losing the 50/50 balls is one thing, but giving them the freebies on the pass interference calls can’t happen.  You can’t work that hard and then just let them off the hook.  Those were killers at those times and if you just trust your technique and use your technique those penalties don’t happen.  So all of that combined left us on the wrong side of the score.”

3rd Quarter:  Describe what your emotions were like on that final play? – “You know, part of me was excited because they called it a touchdown on the field, but mostly I was also thinking about the fact that it should have never come down to that final play.  We shouldn’t have put ourselves in that position.  But in the heat of the moment, you’re hoping your guy made a crazy play to win it at the end.  Justice made a play.  He knew one way or the other it couldn’t end with the ball in his hand and he did his best to make something happen.  The whole play was huge on his part and I can’t tell you that he was down, even after watching it over and over again.  Then as we waited for the result I became more concerned for how our guys would react and handle themselves based on how the other team was acting with all of the taunting and stuff going on at that moment.  I told them to take a knee and no matter what the result, handle it with class and keep their emotions in check.  They did that and again, I was proud of our guys.  But that whole scenario spanned a range of emotions.”

4th Quarter:  How did the players respond today(Sunday)? – “They were still down for sure, but really they were just exhausted.  We had a nightmare going and coming back from Louisiana.  We were delayed about 6 hours coming back.  We spent the whole day lying on the hotel floor.  Luckily they ended up opening up a ballroom for us and we got something to eat, but we didn’t get back here until 1am when we had planned on getting back to Jonesboro around 5-6pm.  It was the worst day of travel in the history football road trip travel.  I thought the way there was bad being delayed 3 hours and getting in late, but I was wrong.  We lost an important game and then had to go through that.  But hey, the silver lining is we get to go out there and play again this week for a title and salvage a championship season.  The record isn’t what we want, and anybody that thinks I’m fine with it doesn’t know me well.  We didn’t want to share a title, but we know we have a championship to win if we take care of business this week.  Not many folks get to say that.  Only about a dozen out of 128 schools get to win a title.  So our guys want to be in that dozen and were ready to look at what needed to be done this week to win.”

Overtime:  What will be the focus of the first practice back with your players? – “We’ve played two really physical games in a row on the road.  It’s taken a toll.  So this week is about getting our guys fresh physically for the next game.  We won’t hit very much at all.  We’ll want to mentally know what the plan is, and we want our guys to be fresh and fast on Saturday.  I want them at their best so that they can play fast and play clean.  It’s our third week on the road, which isn’t easy, but we know what’s at stake.  And Texas State hasn’t had the best year, but it’s their senior day and they’ll be fighting to win that last game at home.  We’ve seen across the country in the last few weeks that favored teams have lost games everywhere.  So it’s all on us to do our job and what it takes to go win the game.  Nobody is going to give us a thing.  This week will be about our mentality and our mental focus heading into this game.”