JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Nov. 23, 2015) – The ETSU football team held its final weekly press conference of the season on Monday afternoon inside the MSHA Athletic Center.
Head coach Carl Torbush, offensive coordinator Mike O’Cain, defensive coordinator Billy Taylor, and players Dylan Weigel (Pickerington, Ohio) and Austin Herink (Cleveland, Tenn.) met the media at the press luncheon as they gave their final comments on the 2015 season.
Below are comments by Coach Torbush, Coach O’Cain, Coach Taylor, Weigel and Herink.
HEAD COACH CARL TORBUSH
It’s good to end the season on a win as we can build some confidence heading into the off-season. We knew going into the game on Saturday that we had to be the most physical team, while running the ball well and controlling the clock. We were able to do that.
It’s a lot easier to be positive and move forward after a win this past week. We are still not where we want to be and everything we went through this year makes you appreciate winning even more. As we move forward, we have to learn how to win those close games.
Defensively, we knew Kentucky Wesleyan would throw a lot. They have a really good quarterback and three receivers who can play for anyone that we played against this season. We knew it would be tough and that was a really good team we played.
Typically we congratulate our seniors on the final game, but we didn’t have to do that since we have none on our roster. We have a lot of young players on our team, but if they stick around and play for four years we will be a tough team. We became a lot tougher physically and mentally because of what we went through this season.
Over these next couple of days we will be in evaluation mode. This gives us a chance to see where we need to improve and give us a chance to see where we need to be as we head into the SoCon.
During the year we wanted to see who would stay in the boat and be a leader rather than be a follower. We will focus on getting better and finding the pieces that will help us down the road.
We were tested on both sides of the ball this year. We played five FCS teams that ranked in the top 25 in defense and three in top 40 in offense. We know what we played against and our players need to understand that. We need to appreciate who we played, because the schedule will continue to get harder and harder in the years ahead.
I personally want to thank the fans for all their support this season. We averaged over 7,000 fans at our home games, and it was amazing to have them support us week in and week out. Their support says a lot about the direction where we are heading as a program. Without the support of Dr. Noland and our fans, we couldn’t do what we are getting ready to do. We broke ground for our new stadium last week, will be playing Tennessee in 2018, moving to the Southern Conference in 2016, and hopefully we will be announcing several game opponents in the weeks ahead. All of this will be a big plus in recruiting.
We are excited to be joining the SoCon next season. It’s a very strong conference and we will be challenged each week. Our fans will be able to travel to the road games, which is a big plus. It’s also big for recruiting, because families can come watch us play.
Our coaching staff did an excellent job this season. We have a very close-knit staff with a lot of great coaches that get a long together. It was a tough year, but we are excited for the future. We are all here to win and build this program the right way.
WHAT HOLES THE TEAM NEEDS TO FILL
We try to out-recruit what we already have. We are trying to bring in players who can beat out our current players at their positions. We have about 10-15 guys that if we didn’t red-shirt this year they would have either started or been in our two deep. We are building for the future and not one season. We looked at a lot of different models and thought this was the best way to build our program.
We need to get bigger and stronger up front on the offensive line. The guys we have now have to continue working hard and getting bigger. They have height, which is what you want, but they need to continue adding size. In a perfect world, we would have more age and maturity and more dynamic guys at the skill positions. We have some of that with the guys who red-shirted as well as guys who we counted on contributing this year but got hurt. We also had players who were not tight ends grow into that position. We also have to add more depth at the safety and cornerback positions, add another rushing end and a linebacker.
OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR COACH MIKE O’CAIN
ON SATURDAY’S GAME
We wanted to control the football. We knew if we could keep them off the field it would be a positive for us.
There’s only one stat that matters – wins and losses. As coaches, we are going to do our best to help put the players in the best position to win. We felt like this week was our time to step up and help win a game. We had seven explosive plays in the pass game and 14 in the run game. We had a lot of guys step up as our running backs, wide receivers and quarterback made plays. Our offensive line was also physical and played well. It was a good culmination to a hard season.
OVERALL COMMENTS ON THE OFFENSE
The biggest positive was the way we competed and never backed away from the challenge. We were undersized up front and made mistakes, but it was never due to lack of effort. I was pleased to see how we stuck together and kept fighting. Even late in the year at Gardner-Webb, we had about six or seven three-and-outs, but the guys never quit or ducked their heads. The game never became too overwhelming for them. I have been in games where the opponent overwhelmed us and the game becomes too big. I never felt that this season and that’s a credit to our guys mentally.
We told the guys midway though the season to keep a positive mindset. We had to make them feel positive and good about themselves so we could finish the season strong.
None of us have faced this situation before. It was like we had a lot of ninth graders playing a varsity schedule. Our guys competed, fought hard and were fun to coach. I had as much fun working with these young men than I had in my coaching career, because they gave us everything they had. As coaches, that’s all we can ask for.
This is a process. We are building a foundation and this wasn’t going to happen today, tomorrow or next year. This is going to take two, three, four years to make it happen. We just need to keep working and we will get to where we need to be.
DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR BILLY TAYLOR
I am just thankful being here coaching football at this time of year after the 11-year absence. It’s such an honor being back at ETSU and part of the program. I want to thank Coach Torbush for allowing me to be here.
ON SATURDAY’S WIN OVER KENTUCKY WESLEYAN
We knew it would be challenge this weekend. They had a talented quarterback and three receivers who could go get the ball. We knew we were going to have our hands full. I was pleased with our defense in the first half. We did a good job getting off the field and getting the ball back in the hands of our offense. Kentucky Wesleyan found a little weakness in the second half. That has been our biggest challenge this season. Being so young, when a team would show us a new wrinkle, our first instinct was to panic. We had a five-minute moment where that happened on Saturday, but in the end we were able to get back on track.
DEFENSE MAKING IMPROVEMENTS THROUGHOUT THE YEAR
I think we made great strides as team as the year went on. Defensively, we only allowed 19 points per game in our last four games. When playing with a young team it says a lot about the talent we have.
I was pleased with how we finished the season. We had a group of defensive lineman that we recruited a bunch of last year and we played them. We had three true freshmen up front in Chris Bouyer, Tremond Ferrell and Joe Dossett. They gained a lot of experience by playing the majority of snaps for us this season.
I believe the game is still won in the trenches. I am a firm believer that you have to stop the run first and teams have to run the ball to win games. With our defensive line and linebackers play, we played pretty well at times. The biggest problem, because of different circumstances, was we had a rotating door at safety. They are like quarterbacks as they make checks and we need maturity at that position. I believe we started six different lineups at safety in 11 games. We have to get better and mature, but we feel good about the young players we have at that position.
We have talented guys who didn’t see the field this year. We red-shirted 12 freshmen who were on scholarship and all they were doing were getting stronger and faster. In the long haul, this will make us even better as we move forward. We are looking forward to the challenge as we head into the SoCon next season and renew some of those rivalries.
LINEBACKER DYLAN WEIGEL
THOUGHTS ON THE SEASON
It’s an exciting feeling to have this first year under our belt. We now have a good understanding on where we need to go as a team. We saw what it takes to be successful. This should give us motivation in the weight room and push us to work harder in the off-season.
Playing college football is hard. You have to be prepared to go to work every day and be ready to go. It’s not like in high school where you can take a day off or go through the motions. The college level demands the best out of you on the field, in the weight room and in the classroom.
OUTLOOK FOR NEXT YEAR
We need to come out and compete every day. We are moving into the SoCon, which is a hard league, but we know that. We have to keep everyone in the same boat and on the same board. Everyone has to stick together and work for the same goal.
IF THE TEAM HAD FUN THIS YEAR
It was an exciting time. We have worked to get to this level since junior high and high school. Some of us had last year to red-shirt where all we did was hit each other and scrimmage. This year we were able to see where we stand as a team and learned a lot to make us better in the future.
QUARTERBACK AUSTIN HERINK
ON WINNING THE LAST GAME ON SATURDAY
Winning the last game will give us motivation as we head into the off-season. We found out this year that we need to work harder. This season showed us what we need to do to get better. We need to use this as motivation.
ON THE UPS AND DOWNS OF THE SEASON
There were times out there that we messed up. If you’re trying as hard you can, that’s all you can ask for. There were times that we were out-matched physically, but those guys have been on earth longer than we have. We tried our best, but the results weren’t what we wanted. We have to keep pushing and continue to give it our all as we work to get better in the future.
IF THE TEAM HAD FUN THIS YEAR
Our goal as kids was to play college football. A lot of people don’t get to experience playing at this level. We are grateful for that opportunity and we had fun along way. We will look back down the road and have some good memories from this experience.
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