Sept. 5, 2016
"We lost in a fashion that you don't like to lose (in), but you come out of that game, once you watch the video, you're encouraged by some of the plays and effort that you did see. You couldn't sleep the night before worrying about how Tyler Stehling was going to play. Then you come out of there and he was 22-of-37 for 183 yards and rushed for 85. But we had six drops or he could have had a magnificent night. We've got to eliminate those drops. Everybody is going to drop a couple but you can't drop six. We had seven foolish penalties offensively (and) four of them were false starts. That's just about being disciplined and being focused. But, I saw a lot of good that we can build on (like) how Tyler played. He played with confidence, he led the offense. The offensive line did not give up a sack. That was another thing going in that we were a little worried about. Not to give up a sack; that was encouraging. Tyler threw the ball to nine difference receivers. We couldn't our running game established. We tried to work the perimeter but we never could get our running game going. We rushed for 107 (yards) and Tyler had 85 of those yards.
Defensively, we stopped the running game. We held them to under 100 yards rushing and 3.2 yards a carry. But we gave up way too may explosive (plays) when they would max protect and throw the ball down the field. We were just getting too much separation from our defensive backs. But those are some things that, as coaches, we can put some checks in and do some things to help the guys out more. We'll get that done but the defense played extremely hard. I thought they tackled well in space for a first football game. (I) saw a lot of things that we can build on defensively. In special teams, our punter Jack Fox had a 45 yard net punting average on the day. He put five balls inside the 20 (yard line). We had the one penalty on a kickoff, but I thought he kicked the ball really well.
As disappointed as we are in the loss, we're really encouraged. I think when you talk to the players, we'll get some things ironed out and we'll be a good football team. I told you that you want to play up. We saw, like on kickoff coverage, where we need to make some personnel adjustments. Guys we thought would really be great at it aren't. So we'll have to change some of our special teams personnel up that will make us stronger.
We look forward to playing Army. Coach (Jeff) Monken is in his third year. Those guys are going to play hard the entire game. They're not going to quit. We learned that last year, pulling off the win late. Their team speed this year is greater than it was last year. They've got a quarterback who's really playing well. They moved a linebacker to fullback and he rushed for 120 (yards) last week against Temple. Defensively, they intercepted Temple three times. They are exactly what you'd expect an Army team to be. Great effort, disciplined and flawless execution. That's something that we have to work on this week too. Having some flawless execution offensively and defensively."
On the mental mistakes:
"I really think a lot of those drops were guys (that were) pressing. They were trying to play so hard and they just need to play and have fun and they don't need to be better than they are. I think sometimes we were trying to look down the field to create a big play instead of securing the catch first. I think they realize that when we watched video with them. We had some sure-handed players drop passes that traditionally have made those catches. When you start pressing, it's like getting in quicksand. The harder you struggle to get out the quicker you sink. Sometimes the wideouts were just flustered. Then they would try so hard and they'd blow an assignment. They've got to relax and just do what they're coached to do. They're athletic and they are going to make some big plays for Tyler this year. Zach Wright has been a magnificent leader for us. He saw it and he'll get everybody moving in the right direction."
On how you get the team calmed down:
"I think after last season, going 5-7 and not going to a bowl game that they wanted to perform in this first one. They all tried to do more than they're capable of at times. They just have to relax and play, and we're going to be just fine. It's happened before on every campus in the world. You've just got to keep playing and doing what you do. They'll calm down. It was a new style for them of some of the tempo. I think they were trying to get in such a hurry to get reset that we were losing some focus and then we'd start pressing. But the great news is that it wasn't an effort thing. We've just got to relax and play football like we did in the scrimmages. In the scrimmages, we didn't have any false starts. We didn't have any holdings (and) we have officials at those too. We've just got to learn to relax, have fun and play football. An intense level of football. A disciplined level of football. These guys are here to win. But we'll get it worked out."
On preparing for Army's offense:
First off, we took three days in the spring and worked on it. We took three days in two-a-days and worked on it. So it does require extra time. Us playing Thursday, we'll be able to gain an extra day today. So we've put some extra time into it prior to this week. We put a good game plan in this summer. We had to change a little bit after watching the Temple film. They're a lot more unbalanced than they were a year ago. But it's one where you just try to stay ahead because if you just have three days it's not enough time. Coach Monken understands the intricacies of that offense better than anyone in the country with all the different formations that he'll present to you. It's no longer just the double slot. It's unbalanced. You're going to see a lot of difference formations.
On Western Kentucky's play:
"When they got those big yardage plays, most of those were off of max protection and we just couldn't puncture that line and get to the quarterback. They got separation from the defensive backs off double moves. It's something where the defensive line and the secondary has to work together. Somebody has to make a play and we've got to do a better job too. We made some adjustments as coaches when they did that to try to give them some over-the-top help where it didn't just look like man coverage when they stretched us."
On if he feels like he has to change his approach:
"I don't think so. Western Kentucky's a fine football team. They have five starters back on the offensive line. Two (receivers) on the Biletnikoff Watch List. They're good. And they're quarterback can thread the needle. You watch football yesterday and see everybody overthrowing them and underthrowing them. He was right on the money on everything they did. So they had an excellent day throwing the football. Sometimes, you've just got to make a play. That's every team in America. Somebody needs to puncture that and get to the quarterback. We've got to do a better job on when we see a formation that may go to a max protection of matching a call to what we may get."
On the difference between preparing for WKU and Army:
"On Friday, we went ahead and introduced Army's offense again to our defense. So they spent a little time on the Western Kentucky film and then went straight to Army. The offense spent more time on the Western Kentucky defense. So there is some changes in schedule, but you just have to take such a disciplined approach when you are playing the wishbone team. You have to have a hat on the fullback. You have to make sure you have a hat on the quarterback. They're running the triple option then all of a sudden it's the midline where it's a totally different offensive play and scheme coming at you. Guys have to be disciplined. They have to read they're keys. Be at the slot. It puts you in a different field distribution on the football field. It takes great discipline and it takes great energy because you have to rely too on those backside safeties getting all the way across the field to help out because sometimes they will get a numbers count on you no matter how hard you try to keep those numbers straight. When they start pulling guards and moving slots you have to get people from the backside all the way across."
On playing a service academy:
"You just look at what those young men are going to do. Not only are they playing Division I football (but) when they graduate a lot of them are going overseas. It's one where you respect everything that West Point stands for. You respect those young men for the decision that they've made of what they are going to do with their careers post-graduation. It's one where you want to go in there, compete be the very best and play a classy football game because that's what they are going to give you. They do it every time. Last year, when we beat them at the end of the game and we're playing the Rice school song and all of a sudden you hear someone holler `Attention!' and you turn around and see all the cadets standing at attention honoring your school song. That'll give you goose bumps and make you really proud for what they represent and proud to be an American."