JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Oct. 17, 2016) – ETSU football held its weekly football press conference on Monday as the Bucs gear up for their home non-conference game versus West Virginia Wesleyan on Thursday night at Kermit Tipton Stadium.
Head coach Carl Torbush, sophomore running back Matt Thompson (Morristown, Tenn.) and sophomore long snapper Adam Mullins (Elizabethton, Tenn.) met the media to recap last Saturday’s game versus Furman, while looking ahead to this week’s game against the Bobcats.
Below are comments from Coach Torbush, Thompson and Mullins.
HEAD COACH CARL TORBUSH
RECAPPING THE FURMAN GAME
We played a very good football team on Saturday. I'm not sure everybody realized that, but Furman is much better than its record indicates. I think everybody could see that as the game went on. At the same time, we're not supposed to get beat like that. They scored on all eight drives and we did not make them punt. Obviously, when you do that, you're not going to have a chance to win. We got behind too early to give ourselves a legitimate chance to win the ball game.
It was 21-0 in the first quarter, and by halftime, it was just a matter of playing for pride. We wanted to make sure that we saw fight and effort on both sides of the ball. I think we did that. I don't think we had anyone that didn't play as hard as they could. We just didn't play very well. I think we need to understand that we are dealing with some of the things we dealt with last year. All the schools in the SoCon are going to be very similar to what we saw last year at Montana State, so we knew it wasn't going to be easy when we started it.
We could be sitting here 0-6, and we're not. We won our first two ball games, and those were two hard-fought battles. I think my biggest concern as a football coach, is we haven’t played as well the last two weeks as we possibly could have.
When you're getting beat 28-0, it's hard to be excited. It’s hard whooping and hollering, but I do think our players have played hard. For the second week in a row, 200 of their (Furman’s) yards came on seven plays, which was almost half their offensive production. For us to be consistent and get done what needs to be done on defense – and as a football team – we can't afford to give up those kind of plays.
Furman did everything they needed to do to win the game. We didn’t accomplish what we needed to do to have a chance to win – and for the third week in a row – none of us: our players, our coaches, our fans, and anybody that loves ETSU is not happy with where we are right now. With that said, we have another opportunity this week to get better. I think we will get better and we're in it for the long haul. We knew going into this that it would be a process and it wouldn't be perfect. It wouldn't be as pretty as all of us would like for it to be, but at the same time, what we've got to do is make sure that we continue to build a foundation to give us something to be stronger and more powerful with down the road.
ON WEST VIRGINIA WESLEYAN
West Virginia Wesleyan is 2-5, but they are coming in here on a win. They are led by their senior running back that has over 1,000 yards rushing and he’s in the top-10 in his division in rushing and rushing touchdowns. He’s the guy, for us to win this game, we’re going to have to definitely stop him. Their quarterback has had some really, really good games and he's had some average games. His average games have been when they are behind and trying to catch up. His good games have been when they've been fighting for a victory. He has some size. He's about 6-4, he runs okay, but he's a guy who can throw the ball well and make some good decisions. They do have a good receiving crew.
They have some skill guys that we feel like we have to do a good job limiting their plays. Obviously, tackling their running back is the top priority, because if we don't tackle him then they won't have to use the passing attack like we'd like for them to do. Their offensive line is solid. They've got a lot of guys back from last year. Defensively, they have three or four guys that have outstanding stats. They have a defensive lineman who already has 8.5 sacks this year, which is just about as many sacks as we have as a team. Defensive back Jabari Weems has recorded five of their nine interceptions. Chad Pinson also has two interceptions, but he also leads the team in tackles.
West Virginia Wesleyan has a very, very good football team, but this week is not about them. It's about ETSU and for us to get done what we need to get done. We need to show great improvement. We need to show excitement. We need a good crowd there on Thursday night. Our players are very resilient. They'll bounce back and I have no doubt that we will play well on Thursday. What we need for everybody's sake is a victory, and the only way to get that, is go out, play well and do the things that we're supposed to do. If we do that, then everything else will take care of itself.
ON GETTING PRESSURE TO WEST VIRGINIA WESLEYAN’S QUARTERBACK
Obviously, to get a quarterback off rhythm, you need to hit him. I don't mean that in a nasty way, I mean it in a football way. If he is going to drop back and throw the ball, we need to get pressure and put hits on him. If we hurry and get him out of rhythm then there’s a chance for an interception. We haven’t been able to do that much this season. We need to get better with quarterback hits and sacks. We need to do a better job of being more physical and tackling on running plays. We need to put them in second and third-and-long situations. We have not had enough third down situations the last two weeks.
ON MATT THOMPSON GETTING MORE SNAPS ON OFFENSE
I think he will and Matt understands his role. First of all, some of his yardage came against second teamers; they didn't have some of their starters out there. At the same time we don't evaluate Matt on what they had out there. We evaluate him on what he did, and what I saw was a running back that ran the ball extremely hard. He showed some speed. He showed the things that we recruited him for. The thing I like about Matt is he is a firm believer in this football program and this school.
ON ANY CHANGES EXPECTED TO BE MADE OFFENSIVELY
I think the biggest thing is to be able to score points. As far as the X's and O's, there's nothing going to change.
I think the worst thing you can do as football coach, if you believe in what you're doing, is make a lot of changes. That's not to say we won’t tweak things, because we'll always change things depending on our opponent. Our main job as coaches is to get our guys in a better position to make themselves more successful and make sure we are playing the guys who are producing. There's a difference in ability and production. Ability is when you haven't done it yet, production is when you go out on the field and get it done.
As far as making wholesale changes, we're not going to do that. The worst thing we can do is go out and make wholesale changes because then all the players say, "well they don't believe in what they were doing to start with.” What we need to do is go out and get the job done. Coaching-wise we need to put them in the best position to be able to do that.
ON STARTING POSITIONS BE LOOKED AT
Each week we evaluate every position. That's the reason we come in on Sunday. We come in to evaluate and grade the players. Depending on how they grade, if somebody warrants beating somebody out then we will make the change. But we're not looking to make somebody a scapegoat because of our loss. We haven’t been losing these games because of one player or one position. It’s a bunch of guys and a bunch of coaches that did not play or coach up to the best of our ability. We have to be a lot better than we were last week, but as far as making wholesale changes, no. We had to make some changes because of injuries. We will make some changes if a guy is not playing as hard as we want him to play. If he's doing that, then it's up to us to evaluate and say, well this guy is making plays, six plays in a row and this other one's not, obviously we're going to try to get that guy in there that's making those plays.
SOPHOMORE MATT THOMPSON
DOES THE TEAM LOOK AT THIS THURDAY’S GAME AS A CHANCE TO GET ROLLING AGAIN?
I mean, it's easy to see that on paper, but at the same time they're (West Virginia Wesleyan) just as hungry as we are. They're a Division II school looking to come here and knock us off. Just like last year, when Emory & Henry and Maryville did. Both teams are going through a slump right now. It should be a good game, but hopefully we can bounce back.
West Virginia Wesleyan has some good athletes on their team. The running back is definitely strong. Their safety, he's leading the team with tackles right now. They've got a cornerback that can make some big plays.
I think we are two hungry teams looking to get a win, so it should be a good game.
ON BEING ABLE TO GET MORE CARRIES
I hope so. When I came here I knew that we had some good running backs in Falon Lee and Jajuan Stinson. Hopefully I can complement them and play my role on the football team. They're good, quick scatbacks. I'm a big power back and try to get four or more yards a carry – and like coach says – move the chains and get some more first downs. Hopefully I can continue to improve and help the team as much as possible.
WHAT'S THE BIGGEST THING YOU'VE SEEN THAT'S JUST HELD THIS TEAM THE LAST COUPLE OF WEEKS FROM BEING ABLE TO PUT SOME POINTS ON THE BOARD?
One of the main things, I think, is we have to run more positive plays and get ahead of the chains. We have been putting ourselves in bad situations on first and second down, which puts us in third-and-long situations, and it’s harder to move the chains when there’s pressure coming to the quarterback. I feel like we can correct these things. We've been working hard in practice, getting back to the basics, and I think everything will improve.
SOPHOMORE ADAM MULLINS
ON THE FEELING IN THE LOCKER ROOM AFTER FOUR STRAIGHT LOSSES
We just have to keep our head on straight and continue working hard. This is a process. We need to remain confident and stay focused.
ON THE SIDELINE, HAS IT BEEN TOUGH TO SEE THE TEAM GET DOWN SO QUICKLY AND PLAY FROM BEHIND?
It is. It’s hard to play from behind. We have to keep focused and try to gain all the momentum we can.
For complete information on ETSU Football, follow the program via social media on Twitter (@ETSUFootball), Instagram (@ETSUFootball), Snapchat (@etsufootball) and on Facebook (ETSU Buccaneer Football).
ETSU fans wanting to receive Buccaneer news, score updates, in-game promotions and much more sent to their mobile device can do so by signing up for “Buc Updates.” Click here to sign up today!
For more information on Buccaneer football, visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the football page.