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Eastern Kentucky coach said his team believed it would beat UK

Kentucky’s defense forced this red zone fumble Saturday. (Vicky Graff Photo)

EKU Head Coach Mark Elder after Saturday’s loss at Kentucky.

Opening statement…
“OK, obviously disappointed with the outcome. We came with the intention to win the game, the belief that we could and the belief that we would. So, disappointed with that. I’ll say this, I couldn’t be more proud of this team and the effort that they displayed. We’ve got a damn good football team. It’s tough to be 0-2, certainly, but I am certain that we are a good football team. The guys fought hard and made a couple too many mistakes down the stretch. The penalty battle hurt us, so you know, we had too many penalties there late going into the third and fourth quarters. Those are on me. It’s my job to make sure we don’t have as many penalties as we did and that’s something I‘ve got to get corrected. I am extremely proud of our team. I’m excited for this upcoming week to have a bye week and get some of the things that we need to get corrected corrected, and then we are on to Tennessee Tech.”
On effort from two years again versus the effort we saw today …
“I didn’t ask for them to give the effort of a couple years ago. I asked for them to give great effort. This is the 105th edition. What happened last year is no bearing, what happened two years ago is no bearing. Next year, what we do this year is no bearing. Week in and week out, we are going to have our kids play hard. Not like any other team, but like this team. So, our kids did. I’m proud of this team for their effort, for their fight, their leadership. We’ve got guys that are leading. This is much more of a player-led team. Obviously, us as coaches, we set a culture and the expectation level. We have a team that has players that care a great deal and are holding that. They’re demanding from each other that they live by the standards that we’ve set, so I am excited about the leadership that we have that those guys are going out and they’re leading it. It’s not coming from me, it’s not coming from the coaches. Obviously, the direction the coaches, that’s what the expectation is, but they are the ones enforcing and it is great. That’s what good teams do. It’s hard to say we are a good team when we are 0-2, but I am certain of it. I’m 100 percent certain of it, that we’re a good football team and that positive things are coming.”
On the offensive and defensive sides of the ball …
“Well, certainly their offensive line, they did a great job protecting the quarterback. We had a couple hits but we got the ball off timely. Only one sack, so that’s a real positive. I mean those have 35, 40 or more. I mean those dudes can rush the passer. I mean you saw it last week they got after Southern Miss a week ago. They did it last year and those guys are veteran guys now, so they have some guys that can really rush the passer and we protected our quarterbacks well. It is great to see that. We were well aware, as discussed earlier in the week, that we were going to have a hard time running the football. It was two reasons and one’s schematic based. I mean they run that bear front, put more guys in the box than you can block. They make it very difficult. They’re big and physical up front so schematically, and also personnel wise. As I said they’re big and physical. Their two inside linebackers are really good football players. Their two outside guys are really good football players. We knew that was going to be a bit of a struggle. We had our plan for how we were going to run the football. We had our plan for how we were going to get the ball out quickly and be able to move the ball up and down the field despite that. We had some success doing that obviously for 318 yards. Solid day. Obviously not enough to win, but I was pleased with what our offensive line did.

“Our defense, I mean they’re big. They’re big and physical up front. We had two concerns: No. 1, we had the Wildcat package. I thought our defensive staff did a really nice job with game planning that and got them out of it. I mean they didn’t run the Wildcat a whole bunch and I know this, I mean watching their film. I watched TV copy of every game that I could watch last year and I know this, when their back is against the wall they went to that. That was kind of their deal, and I thought that we had them backed up a couple times where they felt like, ‘Hey we gotta do something here.’ And they didn’t go back to that because we were able to stop it. I was pleased with that. They did rush for 207 yards and they rushed 40 times. Their quarterback got out on a couple scrambles. I mean the run defense wasn’t good enough but I thought our guys fought their tail off against a big, physical football team.

“When you look at that running back (Benny Snell) again, I watched every TV copy I could of YouTube stuff from a year ago and that kid’s a ball player – a big, physical guy. You see him dragging SEC teams after first contact from multiple yards a year ago and I thought that we kept them somewhat in check in that regard. Not good enough, obviously. We didn’t win, but I was proud of the way that those guys fought.”
On two red zone chances …
“At halftime, the thing that we talked about was that there’s going to be two things that are going to determine this game. One, defensively we gotta keep the ball inside the front. We can’t let them have any big ones. And they got us on a big one that set up their first down of the second half. That was one thing, then it was 0-0 at halftime as far as turnovers and we had two turnovers. One of them obviously was pretty costly. We were down in the red so we were in a good position to score and we had a turnover there. We just gotta protect the football a little bit better. To finish a day down two, we gotta do a better job at creating turnovers. We gotta do a better job at protecting the ball. Timmy [Boyle]’s interception probably was not the best decision of the night, but we are at a point where we gotta press a little bit. When there is four minutes to go, they get into four-minute offense late in the third quarter. Watching all their games, they get in four-minute offense late in the third quarter if they’re up. So, we knew that it was going to be extremely difficult to get another possession. We were going to need to drive the field there. We weren’t going to get more than likely two possessions. So, probably took a chance on one that we maybe shouldn’t of. By and large, our quarterbacks played well. Our quarterbacks went out there and managed the game. They did a good job.”
On whether his team prepared for Drew Barker …
“He wasn’t out there a whole bunch. Not really. I mean, they’re not a huge – I don’t think that they drastically changed their offensive between the two. Their other quarterback, he is more mobile. He extends plays better, you know, he is harder to sack because he can scramble around in there. He is pretty elusive, but they’re both throwing quarterbacks. It’s just one probably extends plays a little bit better. They’re not out there, like Josh Dobbs, or the kids from West Virginia a few years ago. They’re not out there running him a whole bunch. He is scrambling for the most part. Occasionally they keep one on his own read or something like that, but no. We just did a better job of wrapping up in the backfield. We got a couple sacks against him, but we are seeing the same actions and the same routes and so forth, so we weren’t expecting a whole bunch different.”

1 comment

  1. Coach…..and many of us thought you would beat us as well. 2-0 does look better than it feels. Stoops said his team came out prepared to win….hmmmm. Hard to believe that their OL outplayed ours for most of the game. Also hard to believe that we couldn’t tackle and get any pressure on the quarterback. Their coaching staff was better prepared than ours as well. Shout out to Johnson, Bone, and West for their play. Also wondering why we would have this many injuries only 2 games in. Two games in and we lose to Vandy. 1. Webb is still there., 2. Shumur getting much better., and 3. Mason gets more out of his players and has them more motivated.

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