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Bobby Wilder Weekly Press Conference - Video and Transcript


Below is the transcription from today's Bobby Wilder Weekly Press Conference.

Good afternoon to all of our 12th Monarchs out there with Monarch Nation! It’s great to have you all here today. We are in a good mood today after our 38-34 win over Eastern Michigan on Saturday that put our record at 1-0. It was critical to get that road win, as road wins in college football are hard to come by, particular in the opener. In this case, both teams were new, and a lot of things happened that you didn’t expect would happen.

We are also very pleased with the fact that we were down by 14 in the first half and again in the second half, and we just kept finding a way to battle back. You have to give a lot of credit to the assistant coaches and the players for staying focused, and the kids did a really nice job of processing the information and making adjustments. I give Chris Creighton, Eastern Michigan’s head coach, a lot of credit; that is a much better football than the one we played here last season. There were a lot of adjustments we had to make this game because they did a lot of new things that we didn’t expect.

We were also very pleased about our execution of the two minute drill on both sides of the ball. Offensively, we scored when we needed to on the last drive of the game with a touchdown to take the lead, and then our defense had to execute in the two minute drill. We got the big interception by Tim Ward to seal the game. So, both sides of the ball were able to perform well when it counted at the end of the game.

We had 53 of the 70 players who traveled this week get into the game and play, and 20 of those 53 were playing their first ever snaps of college football. So we had a lot of newness, but they executed well and learned a lot as the game went on.

Overall, we had a solid performance on special teams. Reed Buce, who joined us in preseason camp as a long snapper, had a really good day. He had one snap that was a little bit high, but I was pleased with his first start on special teams. Ziffer and Cervi punted the ball well in this game; that was a phase we struggled with last year. Between the duo of Cervi taking the regular punts and Ziffer doing the rugby style punts it was a solid performance from them. On kick returns, there were two really good efforts by Zach Pascal, so that was good because that was another area we struggled with last year. And then on punt returns, Marques Little had a real big game replacing Antonio Vaughan. He had a real big return early in the game; just one more block and he might have taken that thing 90 yards. So I’m very encouraged by the special teams.

We had a solid performance by the defense at the end of the game, but the defense really struggled the first three quarters. A lot of this was based on the newness of the team and the scheme Eastern Michigan ran, but in the first half we did well by only allowing 17 points. That big interception by Aaron Young really helped settle us down and get some momentum back. We had three turnovers; the interception by Young, a sack by Malique Johnson that caused the fumble that Oshane Ximines scooped up, and then the interception by Tim Ward were all very important.

TJ Ricks led us with 14 tackles, and he would be the first to tell you that it wasn’t his best game. He missed some gap responsibilities early on, but I’m really proud of TJ; he played like a warrior. Aaron Young also had 10 tackles and the interception that I mentioned. I was proud of Aaron because a lot of the tackles you make at corner are ones that save us a lot of points. Fellonte Misher had eight tackles, and he played as well at safety as he ever has here at ODU on the last drive. On the last drive as they were trying to win the football game, he had three pass breakups, two open field tackles and two big hits as the receivers had hands on the ball to prevent a completion. He did all this after playing 85 snaps, which was probably too much, but he didn’t want to come off the field. That was really impressive. Malique Johnson also had eight tackles and a forced fumble; that’s the best football he’s played. Oshane Ximines played a solid game for his first one, but he’s really disappointed in how he played even though he had a big sack and a fumble recovery. Tim Ward obviously had the big interception on the last drive and played 42 snaps in his first game.

I should also mention defensive tackle Miles Fox, who played 26 snaps in his first college football game as a true freshman. He had a huge play on a third and one from the goal line where he beat the tackle and the fullback and tackled the running back to force a field goal. I’m really excited about these younger guys, and I know we’re going to get a lot better on defense.

Offensively, the best part about the day was zero turnovers and zero penalties. The only thing we’re a little disappointed in was that we had two bad snaps out of Tyler Compton that stopped two of our drives. We replaced Tyler with Nick Clark, who played 61 snaps in his first college football game and did a very good job. Tyler went back in the game at guard and did a solid job, but we’re really impressed with Nick Clark’s performance at center.

Obviously the story of the game was Ray Lawry, who had 28 carries for 223 yards and four touchdowns. That was an impressive performance, and he did a great job with his vision and finding the holes and setting up blocks for the offensive line. I was also very pleased with Jeremy Cox, a true freshman, at running back. He had seven carries for 33 yards in his first college football game. We are very excited about that one two punch because Ray’s not going to be able to consistently carry the ball 30 times a game. It was good to see Jeremy get out there as a freshman and get aligned properly and understand the protections. He’s got work to do to grow there, but I’m confident he will.

I thought the quarterback Shuler Bentley played a very solid football game. He was outstanding with the operations. He checked protections, run plays, and got us in the right protection versus the blitz. He protected the ball well, and led us on a game-winning touchdown drive in the last two minutes to win the football game.

The offensive line did much better in the second half than the first. We had to make some adjustments, as we only ran for 70 yards in the first half but then really turned it on in the second half. Overall on offense we had six guys play their first ever snaps of college football. Kesean Strong got in on special teams as a true freshman, and he will be getting in on offense this year; he has gotten better and better. I am encouraged by these young guys as well, and like I said last week, I don’t think we are as good now as we’re going to be later in the season; it’s going to take us a minute to grow up.

I was also very encouraged by their attitudes yesterday coming back; they were happy they won but were excited to get back in and watch film to fix their mistakes. They all felt that, as a team, they didn’t perform as well as they could have. From a head coaching standpoint, that is very encouraging.

Looking ahead, I am excited to be back home this weekend at S.B. Ballard Stadium for the home opener against Norfolk State, who we have had some good games against recently. Latrell Scott is a good football coach, and I have no doubt he will get that program moving in the right direction in no time. They had a tough opener in Big 10 opponent Rutgers. They jumped on them early though, so I am expecting them to do the same to us this weekend. Their quarterback Greg Hankerson had a really solid game, going 18 for 28 for 199 yards. Their running back, Gerard Johnson, who transferred from here, is a very good player. And defensively, they have one of the best linebackers we’ll see this year in Deon King. So we will have to play well this weekend in the home opener to get the win.

Q: The win on Saturday at EMU easily could’ve gone the other way. How important is it that it didn’t?
A: It’s absolutely critical that we won the opener. As I told the guys, this is one win closer to accomplishing our goals. It is particularly good that we got this win on the road. It is hard to win college football games on the road; I don’t care who it is against.

Q: What are you expecting your improvements to be from week one to week two?
A: The biggest reason I think you make improvements from week one to week two is when you have a young, inexperienced team like we do, so collectively the 20 guys who just played their first games just took a big exhale and realized they can do this. So now, they can start making connections between why we do the drills we do and how they can help correct the mistakes they made in the game. As long as they players see what they need to improve upon, I believe we will see improvement from week one to week two.

Q: You’ve played Norfolk State a few times now. Is there extra juice in this game now?
A: Yeah, I think there is from the standpoint that we are both representing Norfolk. That adds to the game, and hopefully it adds to the atmosphere from a fans standpoint. This is a game I like to play, and I hope we can continue to play it; I think it’s good for the city. It brings the two schools together. Just like when we played Hampton last year, I think it brings a lot of energy to the game when we play another team from this region.

Q: What difference does it make playing Norfolk State under Latrell Scott now instead of Pete Adrian?
A: The big difference between the two is that Pete Adrian was a lot more focused on defense, while Latrell Scott has always been an offense guy. I could already notice the difference in watching their game against Rutgers; Scott has done with them what he’s done at the other places he has coached. They’re going to be good on offense. He has a goal for them to start scoring 30 points a game, and it wouldn’t surprise me if they start scoring a lot more. They have really good skill players. What also makes this team a lot more dangerous is that they do have a pretty good defense.

Q: Talk about how excited you are for your home opener.
A: I love to brag on the fact that we’ve had 41 home games, and every single one has been sold out. No other program can say that. I think that’s really exciting and special. And that’s not something that’s just special for the fans but also for every kid that sits in this room. When you’re a player and you run through that tunnel in front of a sold out crowd, the atmosphere is incredible.

Q:  Can you talk about your professional and personal relationship with Latrell Scott?
A: I was really excited for him when he got the job at Norfolk State because he went through a really difficult situation before that. He owned up to his mistakes, and I think he was a really stand-up guy about it. He paid dearly for it, and he really had to work his way back up from it. When he went to James Madison he stayed in touch, and I called him and congratulated him once he got the Norfolk State job. I really don’t think it will take him a long time to get that program really going. He is a really energetic guy and does a great job rallying the campus support. I think he’s going to start winning a lot of football games, just hopefully not starting this Saturday.