Bobby Wilder Press Conference (Transcript and Video)
By ODU Athletics
Below is the transcript from the Bobby Wilder Press Conference.
Hey, good afternoon everyone, thanks for coming, and a special welcome to our friends from the Port of Virginia and the Virginia Maritime Association who are back in the room.
Speaking to the game this weekend, obviously we’re very frustrated. I think frustrated is what we’re all feeling right now. Particularly within our organization with the result of the game. The critical point in this game came on the second and the third drives when we got two turnovers from our defense. The interception from Harrell Blackmon that put us on the 14-yard line and then the caused fumble by Lawrence Garner that was recovered by Geronda Hall that put us on the 12-yard line, and we only came away with three points out of those two turnovers. The first drive, I thought we had scored, Robert Washington ran it in, and there was a questionable holding call on it that we didn’t recover from. With those two drives, we had the opportunity to be up 14-0 and we weren’t. That put us in a really difficult position, but we played really hard throughout the game. It was 10-3 at the half, we were playing really good football, but just not enough, particularly offensively, to win this football game. I’ll give Western Kentucky a lot of credit, they’re a good football team. They only allowed FIU 14 points, a team that won nine games last year. Defending league champion UAB only scored 13 against them, so they’re playing pretty good defense right now, I’ll give them a lot of credit.
The second half of this football game, we were better offensively, we had two long drives, but we hurt ourselves with penalties on both of those drives, that stopped us. Overall, defensively, I feel like we played well enough to win. Same with our special teams. We just need to play better football on offense. We’re young right now on offense, we’ve got some key injuries. But we’ve got to find a way to play better football on offense. I met with our leadership counsel this morning, which is comprised of our seniors and our two junior captains. It was clearly the best meeting I’ve ever had with a leadership group. Those guys are committed to winning; they want to get better. They had some really strong suggestions, they want to practice harder, they want to practice more against each other. The defensive guys are talking to the offensive guys, saying, “hey, let’s practice harder against each other.” Which, there’s always a fine line, because you have to prepare them each week for a different test. You’ve got to give them enough work against the opponent to prepare them for who they’re going to play. We’re going to do that, some of their suggestions were really good, and it was all about the team and unity and sticking together. They realized that we’ve got a lot of younger guys playing right now. We’re only starting one senior on offense, two on defense. I truly believe this is a championship team, it’s just not happening as quickly as we all would like, but these guys are committed to the process of winning.
Speaking to our defense in this game, the report from the defense, they allowed 20 points and 320 yards, for the third week in a row we hit our goal of 70% on third down. We’re doing a good job getting off the field. Lawrence Garner continues to play at, I think, an All-American level. He had 12 tackles, he forced a fumble, really active in this game. Juwan Ross with seven tackles, which is really hard to do as an interior defensive lineman. You spend most of your life involved in double teams, but he had seven tackles. He had a huge sack in the first half that knocked them out of field goal range. Then Harrell Blackmon at safety with seven tackles. Overall, the front was disruptive. Our two corners Kaleb Ford-Dement, and Tobias Moss are playing really good football right now. You rarely see a ball completed against our corners, and Kaleb had, on the first two plays of the game, he beat a block on a screen pass, made a tackle, and he broke up the second pass. He’s second in the league right now in pass breakups, and both those guys are playing really well for us right now.
Special teams, we hit five of our seven goals. Bailey Cate had three of his five punts inside the 20, which is big for field position. We covered kicks well and we covered punts well, which was good to see.
Offensively, overall, it was a disappointing result, but it is not for a lack of effort. We’re just making too many mistakes at this point. We’ve talked about narrowing the scope of what we’re doing, opening it up to competition where they’ll be graded in practice, every position is open. I reminded them yesterday that we have played good football on offense. Two games ago, the first half against Virginia where we score 17 points, got over 200 yards of offense, we were 11-13, passing for 178 yards, so it’s there. We’ve seen it. We just need to do a much better job of executing, and that’s the biggest thing. From my perspective, as a head coach, when I see the amount of effort they’re putting in, how hard they’re working at it. We’re going to continue with this process, but we have to do a better job of executing assignment, and we will. We’ll get better at that.
This week’s opponent, Marshall, is 2-3 right now, coming off a really tough loss on the road at Middle Tennessee, where they turned the ball over too much. That’s really what hurt them. They had over 500 yards of offense and only 13 points. Offensively, they’re number two in the league right now. They’re really well balanced on offense. They’ve got over 200 yards on run and pass, which is impressive. Not many teams can do that. Their quarterback, Isaiah Green, is playing much better football, he’s really matured and grown from last year. Defensively, they’re big, they’re physical on that side of the ball, so we know this will be a major challenge for us this week. We’ll need a great week of practice, which I know we’ll have, but this is a good football team we have at Old Dominion. They’re passionate, they want to do well, but we just need to execute a little bit better in all phases, and we’ll do that as a football team. I will gladly take questions.
Q: You guys have played good offense the last two quarters against the Hokies and the two against Virginia, those four together. Since then, it’s been a struggle. Is it a lack of execution, the injuries, the inexperience, or a combination of all of that?
BW: It’s a combination. We’re down four guys that were starting. That definitely hurt us. We’re playing 24 guys right now on offense. Part of that was the injury, part of it is that we’re trying to grow a young football team. There’s eight inexperienced wideouts that are playing right now. We’re playing some new guys at all positions. The freshmen, the redshirt freshmen that are playing, they are working hard. They’re preparing hard, we’re just not executing at a high enough level for the teams we’re playing. I’ve always felt my experience has taught me, when you’ve got a young football team, you’ve got to stick with them, you’ve got to encourage them, you’ve got to coach them hard, and that’s what we’ll do.
Q: Between Lala, Herslow, Kumah, those injuries, are there any significant updates on those injuries?
BW: Yeah, Lala is closer, he played a little bit in this football game, but we expect him to be ready to go this week. Kumah is still not ready, he is still coming back from that knee injury. Herslow is still a little banged up, getting better. Saldiveri is closer, he’s getting closer to getting back from his knee.