The 35-3 loss to Arkansas left little to the imagination. It was thorough and complete, self-explanatory to a certain extent.
The first-half stats say it all. Score: 28-3. Total yard: 316 to 140. Time of possession: 19:27 to 10:33. Third down coversions: 6-9 to 1-6. And in case you don't know, all those are slanted in the favor of the Hogs.
Visibly frustrated, Rebel Coordinators John Latina and Chuck Driesbach dutifully faced an enquiring press corps.
"This is very disappointing," said Latina. "We didn't play to our capabilities at all. We obviously have to go back and evaluate the whole situation, from top to bottom. If something needs changing, we have to be willing to change it."
Latina never saw this one coming.
"I felt good coming into this game. I thought our preparation was good and thought we'd play well," Lats noted. "We had two weeks to prepare and I thought the kids gave good effort in practice and were ready to play."
But when the game began to sour, it was apparent to Latina that he had misdiagnosed the pregame condition of the Rebs.
"Arkansas played faster and with more hunger than we did from the start," he assessed. "They were more emotional. We played the game like it was a practice. And that's part of our jobs as coaches, to get the team emotionally and mentally ready to play. We thought we had them ready, but we did not. I saw no signs of this."
Latina said Arkansas did nothing new on defense, which makes the puzzle even more difficult to put together.
"They did exactly what we prepared for defensively. In fact, I was a little surprised they didn't throw more wrinkles at us. That makes our performance even more disturbing," he noted. "Our communication was good and there were plenty of plays to be made, we just didn't make them."
The early going set the tone for the game, according to Latina.
"We got so far behind so quickly that it was an emotional letdown and subconsciously I think our effort suffered from that point on," he explained.
Even though the Rebs got down 21-0 on the first play of the second half, Latina said the coaches did not ditch their gameplan and panic.
"We stayed with our gameplan because we could see the plays were there to be made. It was not time to ditch everything we had practiced and start drawing plays up in the dirt, so to speak," he continued. "We did have a nice two-minute drive at the end of the first half that got us some points, but that was about it."
Coming out of the locker room, trailing 28-3, it was imperative for the Rebs to get points on their first possession. After moving the ball down the field, the Rebs could not convert the final yards for a score. That knocked some more wind out of their flapping sails.
"It was very important for us to get some points early in the second half. Really, it was make or break at that point. We not only needed to cut the margin, we needed to gain some momentum and enthusiasm. I think when we fell short there that it took a little bit more out of us," Lats noted.
With bowl chances gone and a losing season assured, the Rebs have to take a long look in the mirror for the next two games.
"What's left now is pride. We will definitely see what kind of pride we have left in the next two games," he closed.
From Driesbach's viewpoint, he will probably be seeing Hog QB Matt Jones in his sleep for a couple of days.
"He's a great player, a player who can carry a team with his arm or his legs and he did both today," said Chuck. "We saw it on film - he puts up points against everyone, no matter who he is playing. He needs no help, but we helped him out at key times today.
"On his long run, the contain man was nowhere to be found. It would have been nice to see us in the proper position, even if he had made us miss. Instead, he got a gimme for 72 yards. Matt Jones doesn't need any help from his opponents - we helped him a lot."
Driesbach said Arkansas's offense is tough enough, scheme-wise, but when you throw in a player like Jones, well, look out if you aren't playing close to perfection.
"The kid is a phenomenal athlete in that offense. It's a spread offense, an offense that can hang big points on any defense when it's clicking. Then you add a 6-6, 230-pound track star in the mix to run it and it's doubly tough," he explained. "We had answers for him and that offense, but not when you don't do what you are supposed to do."
Driesbach took his share of the heat on why the Rebels didn't perform better, but he also said it was a team deal, or lack thereof.
"It was all of us. As coaches, we have to get the guys to do certain things, they didn't do them. My job is to get them to do what is needed. Their job is to do what has to be done. Neither of us did our jobs today and that's my responsibility," Chuck stated. "We have to get those things done. You have to do things correctly or bad things happen, as we saw today."
Don't get the impession Driesbach wqas impressed with any part of the Rebs' play, but he thought the second half defensive performance was more what he was expecting for the whole game.
"Arkansas ran the same plays in the second half they did in the first half and we held them to decent numbers. That's how this game should have gone and how I thought it was going to go," he expressed. "I am extremely frustrated. I'm about to pull what little hair I have left out. It's very frustrating.
"They didn't run any new formations, just window dressing. The plays were the same. They put a back in motion on the option, but it's the same play. Again, we were poor on third downs. They catch a ball in double coverage or we miss a tackle or an assignment. Again, we couldn't get ourselves off the field."
Driesbach and Latina are back at the drawing board this morning, but their job becomes tougher by the game.
Now the incentive of salvaging a bowl game is gone. As Lats said, now it's a matter of pride.
It will be interesting to see what steps they take to get the pride to surface after the Arkansas game.
Rebel coordinators -
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