There's a lot of plays in any one-possession game that you can look back on... at the end of the day it's my team, and like I said after the game, I own it. I know our players and coaches didn't enjoy watching the film.
I know we could have played and coached better. There's a lot of opportunities, and we're going to use them. I'm the head coach, and it's my responsibility to win every game that I can win. That didn't happen, so I'm going to own that, and I have no problem doing that. We watched it, we corrected it, and we're going to turn all our attention to ODU.
Coming back home for our Hall of Fame game, I'm not going to dwell on the past. I'm going to do everything I can to help our players learn from it and focus on having a 1-0 mentality from this point on. That's the only thing that we can do around here right now.
I look forward to the days ahead here as we get ready for ODU... having them here two years ago and Coach Wilder is a very good football coach and I played App Saturday and lost down there or up at App. Won their opening game so they're 1-1. Have a different style offense than they had maybe two years ago where their quarterback was a really, really good passer. This guy can run a little bit.
Their tailback I think is a really good football player and last week he had a hundred yards on App with over a thousand yards last season. He's a weapon for them. They have a senior receiver, Paschal, that last season at 970 yards and 8 touchdowns and the quarterback's a local guy. Washington's from Raleigh. So I know this game will mean a lot to him and overcame an injury. Had a pretty severe knee injury and going in to his senior year. He's a dual threat player.
Defensively I was really impressed that their defensive ends. I think they've got three guys, 98, 99 and 58 that all are long and do a good job in pass rush on defense. On the offensively, people who have only converted 26% of the time on their defense. They've done really well on third downs so that's going to be a critical down for us offensively.
Offensively they've scored over 30 points a game, so they're an explosive offense with a very good tailback and for us, it's more about us executing at a high level and not beating ourselves which is, for me, the most paramount thing in our program. Something that I believe in to the core and our achievement and what we have to do to achieve at a a high level and it's starts with having a great day to day and preparation and then a really good practice tomorrow when we get in to our first and second down game plan.
Players and coaches seem to be better at moving on and putting games behind them than the media or fans. Is there a trick for you to kind of tune out some of the negativity that surrounds a loss like Saturday?
Sure. I don't know if it's a trick, it's just the only way I can do my job well is to be focused and to focus I have to focus on what I have to do today. I think the past is what it is. It's an opportunity to learn from it and the more I dwell on negative things, the more negative I'm going to be. I haven't been around very many leaders that are good when they're that way.
I have to be in a positive state of mind for my players, for my coaches and the best thing we can go it put our best product on the field, get better at what we do and go get a win. That's what we have to do this week.
Sometimes when you have some of the mistakes or missed assignments that you had on defensive. Some of the missed assignments is right, but mistakes maybe you'd change some personnel. I'm not sure if you have that ability to do that, but after watching the tape is that one of the things maybe you'll try to do? Change up your starting line up at all on defense?
Are you referring to anyone in particular?
I think if you have a player that you feel like can elevate your play at a position, then you do that. I do think in this particular game that we just played, we had some good players that didn't play as good as they could play. It's our job to get them to play that well as coaches. It starts with me, it goes to whichever side of the ball you're referring to or special teams unit and then we have to always do everything we can to get the most out of the player.
The player has to do everything he can to take that message from the media room to the field and produce. That didn't happen at certain spots throughout the game. It wasn't, in my opinion, one single guy. I just think there was moments in the game where one player on this play and one player on this play lost focus or didn't play as well as he could. I know we're a better team than that. It's our job to prove it.
You certainly did some good things on Saturday. What are some of those things you think you can build on?
We continue to run the ball well. 6.9 yards a carry. We had 10 explosive plays. Our quarterback was almost 70% completion rate and took care of the ball. Defensively, we had 13 tackles for loss and two takeaways.
I thought our kick off coverage and I thought our punter A.J. Cole had a great day.
Those are things that are positive and there's plenty of things that aren't. Like I said, you just sit down and you look at the things that you know that you can do better and then you ask why did it happen, and then you focus on the plan to get it right. That's what we've done in the last two days and that's what we'll continue to do and all of us are owning it.
On defense in the second half I think the ECU had 5 explosive plays in the first half, but none in the second half. Talk a little bit about that and trying to go forward from there.
It's something that, you know, we've talked enough about it in this room as a goal for us on defense.I think with today's offenses, that's what people are trying to live is explosion. You saw our offense, obviously with Steph Louis we had some explosive plays that helped us. If you can limit those from being scores and continue to line up and not that I want to be a bend but don't break, but at times you have to be. If they get a big play, you've got to try get them tired and then make a play.
At times we were able to do that. I think it always comes back to one thing for me and it's focus. I think when we're focused in every phase our guys play hard, but playing hard and not focused doesn't do anything for you. As long as we can continue to work that way, our guys understand that. It's not like we're having to go in there and say something that they don't understand. They understand that. We just got to get that out of them the whole game.
Did you expect more from your defensive front in the first two games than what you've gotten from them?
I'm sure Coach Nielsen would tell you yes. I think he has high expectations for those guys. I'm going to lean on him as to what he thinks they should be able to accomplish because he's with them the most. There's some things they've done well that I think a lot has been said about those guys and so everyone expects them to transform the entire game.
That's not going to always happen, but at times I think those expectations can be unrealistic and our guys just have to not look at what people are saying about them and look at what am I supposed to do, what am I supposed to look at and play hard. Then they'll have results. I think sometimes people look outside instead of inside on those kind of things.
Preseason I know you were counting on Stephen Louis to step up and be a go to wide receiver. He had a break out game on Saturday. What were your impressions?
He was explosive, he was excited, he made some great catches and a run after the catch on one of them. Took a big hit and popped up and I think that fired him up to be honest with you. I think that really got him fired up on that play. Not that I want to see that happen to him again. I don't. I've been excited to watch Steph play since he started his recovery. He really attacked it last year. I'm proud of him and look forward to seeing more of him.
We had Ryan in here before I asked him if he doesn't like us because he doesn't seem to like to talk about much. He said some things are just ... you stay in house is what he was saying. How does he kind of different with his teammates and with you guys than he is probably with us?
Ryan's really poised and calm. I think he's been through this as a starter before. He understands what a good team has to do for each other and I think all of us in our football family, because that's what we consider ourselves, try to protect each other the best that we can. I think that's what Ryan is. He's quietly, he's kind of a funny guy, but he's not a clown. I mean he's very dry, but he gets it. He's very intelligent. I think he knows that his responsibility is to play the position he plays and not talk about the others unless he's giving them credit.
Do you kind of marvel at his ability to ... I say he's from Arizona and he was in Boise, that seems like another country to me you know, to come to Raleigh and adjust and play the way he has. It seems like he's made the transition look very easy from the outside.
Yes, he has. I agree with you and I guess when you graduate in three years with a 3.7 GPA you know you're a little bit different than other people too. I think he's very mature, he was raised by a very good family obviously. He's got a good head on his shoulders. I think he has a very good understanding of who he is. Some college kids are still trying to figure that out, I think he knows who he is.
He's just a very mature individual which sort of allows him to do things different ways. Class schedule is a lot different than a lot of college guys. He's graduated already. He's working on a Master's not spending all day getting tutoring or he's got very little so he can do a lot of football. That's great for him.
At this point, has he won the respect of his teammates or what's he done to do that?
Oh yes. I think just the way you play everyday is how you win respect. I think being the same guy. He's not a guy who gets up and says things that he doesn't back up. He's pretty quiet about how he goes about his business, but at the same time he gets it done. I think at the end of the day if you ask a player what he wants, he wants to play the teammates that get their job done so that they can trust them. I think he's done that.
Across college football, the game with Troy and Clemson and Alabama, there's a lot of college programs in week 2 that seem to have I guess the lull that comes from after opening week. What do you do as a coach ... what kind of learning experience can you have with a coach dealing with week 2 lull?
We talked a lot as a team and I'm not going to get in to all of the things we talked about. I think there was a lot of enthusiasm in our locker room. There was a lot of hype on the field. There was a great atmosphere down there and we did not play with very good focus in the first quarter obviously, which led to other things. We were able to rally in the second. Didn't make enough plays to finish it.
There's a lot of things that go in to it. I think the bottom line in our program that we talk about it is is that your best, if it was then let's repeat it, if it wasn't, then why. There's a lot of guys who can say it wasn't obviously when you lose, myself included. You go back to process of what happened and that's what we done.
We did not have a great practice last Tuesday. We have another opportunity this week. Our Tuesday's got to be a great Tuesday. I think when I look back on our week of prep, I don't know was it coming off Monday when there was no school when we were in a different routine? I don't know. Obviously when you lose you look over everything. You score 4 more points and you're not talking about it. When you do lose by 3 or 2 or 1 or 6, you're going to look at everything that happened. That was the one thing that was different about last week. We haven't had that situation before in week 2, so it's something with every year you have a new team and you learn from it and you move forward.
I was going to ask you, you had some odd penalties in that game. Is that something that you are seeing during the week in practice or are the guys getting caught up in the moment? Maybe even yourself. I don't know who got the sideline penalty for the interference ...
... but are you seeing that during the week or is it something you're getting caught up with in the game?
There was a couple that we should not have had that really hurt us. Lining up in the neutral zone on 3rd and 12, which led to a field goal. That one's pretty questionable, but it was called. That happens probably 15 times in a game where that actually blocking somebody and it is what it is.
An effort penalty that happens is different than a lack of focus type penalty to me. When a guy is straining to block somebody and he ends up one yard further than he should have been, I don't like it, but those things happen in football.
Lining up off sides, roughing the quarterback, those are choices. We can't do that. I agree with that. It is stressed. We were one of the least penalized teams in college football last year and I stressed it last year the same way I'm stressing it now. It will continue to get stressed and it comes down to a player making the right choice at the moment of truth. What it does and we didn't do that. Disappointed like everybody in that and it has to get fixed.
I'm not sure if it really matters at this point, but did you get an explanation and/or did it seem odd to you that the clock ran after Cherry was out of bounds on your last possession?
It's a conversation I'm going to have with the league office. On the film you can see that they stopped the clock so I'm not sure why they ran 6 seconds right there, but that shouldn't happen. Not with that signal being made.
Yes. On the film you can see the guys stops the clock, so we thought he was out of bounds.