Ron English post-Illinois State comments
In his postgame comments, Ron English began by noting that the offensive line — which was supposed to be the strength of this team — is struggling. “We’re just not physical enough right now. We’re really getting pushed around if you look at the first two games.” Opponents are loading the box, and it showed today, with the Eagles rushing 32 times for just 103 net yards. I noticed that, although the starting offensive line was unchanged, three players (including true freshman Jake Hurcomb, who we thought might redshirt) came off the bench, but Campbell Allison, who before the season we thought might be a starter, was not among them.
What we have right now is a team that I think thought they were better than they were, we’ve played two really good football teams. This team reminds me of the ’07 Michigan team in that they really were fighting each other and fighting the coaches. Hopefully we have their attention, but right now we’re not a good football team, we’re not a physical football team, we’re not a well coached football team, and so that’s what’s showing up out there. We’ve been in this situation before, and we’re going to continue to coach and we’re going to get our football team better, so that when we get back here for Homecoming, we’ll play the kind of football that we need to play here.
If you’ve forgotten, the 2007 Michigan football team began the season highly regarded (ranked #5 nationally) but began the season with losses to Appalachian State and at Oregon. They then went on to reel off eight strait wins, including a 38-0 shutout of Notre Dame and a 28-24 win at Michigan State, finishing the year 9-4 after beating Florida in the Citrus Bowl.
As for the defense, which has allowed nearly 1,000 yards of offense, he felt they were “put in some very bad situations in both halves. The thing that soured me on the defense today was the end of the game.” It’s also worth noting that Marlon Pollard didn’t play today, so he might be injured from the Ball State game. (I forgot to ask about this; my bad.)
I asked what was going on with Gillett’s play in the pocket. “I think he got unnerved early. Their one rush end was up the field all the time. They have some good players up there…He started trying to do to much.” About Gillett’s injury, he said, “I think he’s OK, he just got dinged a little bit.”
About Garrett Hoskins being so open for his touchdown (I don’t think there was an Illinois State player within 15 yards of him when he caught it), he commented, “Teams know we want to run the ball, and they know we’re going to stay persistent with that. If you really have watched us the last year and a half, the last 12-16 games, guys are going to be open, it’s just a matter of completing the ball. Guys are open off of play-action fakes and that.”
“Right now if you look at our football team we were tied at the half last week, we were ahead at the half this week, we got to finish games. We’re hurting ourselves because we’re turning the ball over. I thought the team really gave great effort today. Right now we’re not executing, we’re not a good football team, we have way too many penalties, we turn the ball over.”
He concluded by talking about the prospect of going on the road to Purdue and Michigan State. “The reality of where we are is it doesn’t really matter who we play. It really doesn’t. It matters what we do and how we improve. Believe it or not, I thought we improved this week, particularly defensively.” “We’re all disappointed, but we’ll get the team better, we’re going to do that.” “What you have to do is stay the course and keep fighting to get better.”
He alluded a couple of times to some internal problems, of players not listening to coaches and not working well together. He also felt that the defense played reasonably well for most of the game, which was a big improvement over last week. Finally, several times he nearly — but did not actually — said that they’re going to lose the next two games, and that they don’t really matter. You’ll never hear a coach actually say either of those things, of course, but in this case I think he would have right on both counts. A bowl bid at this point would probably require the Eagles to beat Army and go 6-1 in their remaining MAC games, and even at that, a 7-5 team from the MAC is hardly assured of getting an invitation.
If you’d like to listen to the whole thing yourself, here you go:
Or, if you prefer, here’s a video, though I don’t think it adds anything, and you can’t really hear the questions: