Bobby Wilder Weekly Press Conference
NORFOLK, Va. - ODU Head Coach Bobby Wilder met with the media today, below is a transcription of the press conference.
Good afternoon to all our 12th Monarchs out there in Monarch Nation. We’re coming off an exciting 59-58 win over the Citadel. We’re very appreciative of our 31st straight sellout. We are now 2-2 overall and 2-0 at home. One of our goals this year is to be undefeated at home, we’ve never done that before and we’re working really hard to accomplish that this year.
From my perspective of this game, I’m very proud of the way we handled adversity in this football game. It was a back and forth game with a lot of adverse situations. I’m proud of the fact that our defense ended this game with one of the most critical stops that we’ve had as a program and I’m proud of how we competed as a team. Competition is critical to our growth as a team and right now we’re trying to get this mix of new guys and veterans to keep competing regardless of who we’re playing, regardless of the score, and regardless of the circumstance and we have to continue to develop that competitive mindset. That’s something that we’ve had here consistently as a program and I think that’s the number one reason as to why we are 40-12 as a program.
Some positives with special teams, we created two scoring situations with the two onsides kicks. The negatives were that we let two scoring situations happen with a blocked punt that lead to a short field score and then with a fumble in kickoff return late in the game that also led to a score. I’m proud of our emerging youth on our team right now we have 57 of our 66 guys who are starting that are underclassmen which speaks well to our “future is now” theme. Those underclassmen have to grow up quickly and also down the road. I’m proud of two guys from this game that are freshmen, Anthony Wilson who recovered the first onside kick and Scott Wiggins who recovered the second onside kick. To have freshman who have that type of success in those critical situations gives them confidence and our defense needs that right now. Those guys had big smiles as they were running off the field after doing it. I was excited for Jarod Brown to hit a 52-yard field goal, which is a personal record and a school record.
Defensively I’m proud that we forced two turnovers in the first half. That was critical at the start of this game because at one point Citadel was up 28-14 and our defense had two fumbles. The second one we were down 28-21 and it was a perfect play for us to grow on. Preston Smith causes the fumble and Fellonte Misher scoops it up and he would’ve scored but he got tripped up by an offensive lineman. We get the ball on the 13 and we score on the next play to tie it at 28. I’m proud of how hard those guys competed on defense. If you look at this game, they weren’t feeling like they were having a lot of success but yet on the 199th play of the game and our 78th snap of defense we come up with that stop on the two point conversion which was key to winning this football game. A couple players were involved in that; Fellonte Misher and Reggie Owens, but Reggie had the most physical part of that hit, Fellonte forced it to the sideline and that was Reggie Owens 78th snap of defense this game and that makes me even more proud of him. I think we need to coach better in that phase defensively and we’ve got to play better on the field, I’m confident that we will.
Offensively, there were zero turnovers for the second week in a row and that’s absolutely critical right now in what we’re trying to develop. We are now +4 in the turnover margin for the season, meaning we’ve taken the ball away four more times from our opponent than we’ve given up. Other than those back-to-back punts in the second quarter, we scored on every possession. Our other nine drives equaled eight touchdowns and one field goal, which is very efficient. We have to clean up some things with penalties, we had some critical penalties on a couple drives.
Speaking to Albany, this week’s opponent, they’re 1-3 at this time and they’re 0-1 in the CAA. They’re a good football program and their coach, Bob Ford is a coaching legend and this is his last year of coaching. They’re a solid team being 9-2 last season. They know how to win on the road and he knows how to coach so I don’t have any doubt that they will be a formidable opponent this week.
You guys are allowing 64% conversion rate on third down, how much of a concern is that?
It’s very concerning. We have to do a better job coaching and we have to do a better job playing in those situations. We have to find the strengths of our personnel and develop those and that’s what we’ll do.
Can you talk about some of the miscommunication between players and coaches during the game?
There was some miscommunication in all three phases. Whether we win or we lose there are always areas that we need to improve on. There were a lot of critical snaps in this game and when we try and talk about those things especially with the newness in our program during the game it can get difficult. Part of coaching is you have to know your personnel and how much you can do as far as adjustments during the game. For example, they were running a trap play which was very successful and they ran that probably 10 times in this game but they had only shown it once in the previous games leading into this. So we were trying to make that adjustment on the sidelines and teach our kids how to play it. When you do that you have to make some adjustments to your scheme. Same thing on offense, we had two drives early on that we got forced to punt and they made some adjustments on what they were doing with their front and their blitz package. There was a lot going on, on the sidelines after those two drives. Same thing with special teams, we had to make some adjustments on what we were doing on punt. After you get a punt blocked you have to make some adjustments quickly. In all three phases there was a lot going on the sidelines in terms of communication, coaching and evaluating.
Was that last on-side kick a called play?
It was a called play. I felt like that it was going to give us the best chance to win. At that point in the game there was 3:30 left in the game and we were up 59-52 and I felt that if we recovered it the game was over or if the Citadel recovers it two things are going to happen, we either stop them and win the game or if they score I can use my timeouts and there will still be enough time left where we could come back and score to win the game. I knew their coach would have gone for two if they would’ve scored. I knew he would’ve drained the clock down to one second, score and go for two to win the game 60-59. So my plan was to try and leave as much time on the clock as I could for us to try and score. This is a situation that we practice for. I had no doubt in my mind that if we had to we would do anything to score. I took zero time to think about if I should or shouldn’t do it. My whole thought process was either we’re going to stop them or if they have to go 75 yards it’s probably going to drain the clock leaving them with no option to score. They started on the 38-yard line and the clock went from 3:31 to 1:35 and only 38 yards were gained. The first option was always recover the kick and the games over or if that didn’t work then our defense would stop them, weather it was 75 yards or 38 yards, and then make sure there was enough time left that we could still win the game. 26 years of thought process went into that. Then ultimately we won the game 59-58.
How much does it stress the offense that you can’t always count on the defense?
First, the thing that we’re all working on is that we’re going to improve on defense and I have no doubt that we will. Secondly, it’s put us in a great situation to have discussions during the team meeting about how we’re all in this together. We can all see it on the sidelines, the offense is 100% behind the defense and they keep encouraging those guys. Our offensive kids feel like they have to do a better job in practice helping prepare the defensive guys. I’ve been on the other side of this where the defense is dominant at one of my previous coaching spots and the most important thing is that the kids really rally around each other. Our guys on defense hear the negative comments from outside the organization but my job is to make sure they know that everybody from inside the organization has each others backs and we’re going to stick together no matter what as a team. It’s encouraging to see that from our kids. I don’t really think it changes plays. Our goal as an offense has always been to score with every possession and to score efficiently and to just keep piling points up on the board. Right now we’re a veteran team on offense and a growing team on defense. We’re going to keep doing what we’re doing, stick to the plan and not change it. I think that’s going to help us win now, help us build in the future and where we’re headed in C-USA. But, I still tell the guys to win now, it’s not just about next year.
The David Born penalty, the dead ball foul, what were your thought about if after looking at it on tape.
Initially my reaction on the field was more because I didn’t see the play stopping. They might have been blowing whistles but the play was still going back and fourth. There were Citadel players pushing our guy back and ODU players still pushing forward. The explanation the official gave me during the next break cleared that up for me as to why they had made that call. I understood it, doesn’t mean I agreed with it but I understood it. He said that the play had stopped and that David shouldn’t have continued into the pile. Those guys are good and I’m impressed overall with the C-USA guys. Even if you don’t agree with something you get a very clean explanation as to why they made the call and that’s good. That’s what you want as a coach so that you can teach your players. This year compared to last year is night and day when you look at penalties.