Western Kentucky hosts Old Dominion on Saturday at Houchens-Smith Stadium. Comments today from coach Jeff Brohm, wide receiver Willie McNeal and cornerback Wonderful Terry about that and more.
“Well we are glad to get back at it this week and have another game at home this Saturday. It definitely was a tough pill to swallow this past weekend but it is what it is. We understand the situation. We haven’t been able to correct a few of the issues, but we have got to fight through it. We have another opportunity this week against a good football team at home in front of our fans and we are looking forward to getting out there.”
On message to players
“The message right now is it is what it is. You’re midway through the season and you’re 2-4. Is that where you want to be at? No. But trust me, we’ve been in tougher situations in our life and there’s going to be tough times that come up. The bottom line is you have to fight through it. It’s college football. There’s a lot of good football teams. You’re going to win some, you’re going to lose some. We’ve got to find a way to win.
“I’d be more upset if I sat up here and we were getting crushed every week. I think that we are right in the thick of it. We’re a competitive football team. We haven’t been good enough to win close football games. We’ve got to get better. We know that. We’re definitely working on it but we have to learn on the job. We’ve got to perform better on game day, especially in the second half, if we want to get over the hump.”
On how players will respond
“I think they’ll respond well. We’ve actually practiced very well. We practice hard. We’ve made strides in practice and I think our guys want to get it done. Right now, in the second half, we haven’t played well. It’s not because we didn’t know that we needed to. We’ve talked about things. We’ve made adjustments. We’ve talked about issues that have come up in the past, but right now we are getting beat in the second half on both sides of the ball. We’ve got to perform better. We have to do things to help each other out. The offense may have to run the ball a little more and control the clock and the defense definitely has to get off the field on third downs. All things that can be corrected, but you have to correct them and find ways to do it. Each side has to help each other out and we’ve got to find a way to win as a team.
“We know at this point, even more so than before, it doesn’t matter who we play. It’s going down to the wire. We’ve got to find a way to play better for 60 minutes and play better the entire game.”
On goals changing as season progresses
“We don’t talk about our goals a whole lot. I think that we knew going in that defensively we were going to be a little young and we know from a team standpoint that we lost some elite players on a good football team last year to the NFL. We haven’t had guys step up to that place yet and I think we are still a ways off to getting to that point. We’ve got to improve. We’ve got to fight through it.
“We’ve gotta continue to try other guys if we are not getting the effort we want on a consistent basis. The hungriest players that want to contribute are the ones that are going to play. I think our guys will practice hard. I think that they enjoy playing the game and they realize it’s going to be a battle every week. I think we’ll respond and give it a good fight this weekend as well.”
“If it just happened once or twice, I would maybe say that, but it’s happened four times. I think our guys understand what we have to do. It was definitely addressed for two straight weeks and talked about at halftime, then we out, the other team played better and we didn’t get it done.
“I don’t think it’s complacency, but I do think there’s certain situations we gotta get better at. We need to get off the field on third down. We need to get off the field on fourth down. They were able to convert a ton of those and it keeps the momentum going for them, they maintain possession of the ball. On offense we didn’t get many snaps and when we did we didn’t take advantage. So little things. We have to play better and we have to find a way to do it for an entire 60 minutes.”
“I think we’re continuing to find leaders on defense really. I think that we’ve got some seniors on defense that do the best job they can in leading, but in all honestly, they haven’t played a whole lot in their career. This is really the first year that a couple of those leaders are playing. They wanna win.
“I think Cam Thomas has been a good leader. He got hurt in the second half a little bit and went down and it hurt us when he went out of the game. He’s definitely played well for us. He’s probably our top leader on defense. We had a long talk (Sunday). He wants to do well, he wants to find ways to help the defense out.
“I saw us lose our mojo a little bit in the second half on defense. I didn’t think we played with the all-out bounce in the step that we could’ve. I think we got tired a little bit. We’re gonna have to keep guys a little bit fresh. Some of our most-experienced guys, our guys that have played the most, got a little tired in the second half and they weren’t able to play all out like they should’ve, so we gotta address that.
“Offensively, we just didn’t make the plays we made in the first half. The first half, we did. Took our shots, made the play. Second half we threw a couple posts down the field, had a chance to make the play, didn’t make the catch – and they were contested, no question. So we’ve got to find as much balance as we can to control the ball, to take some pressure off the defense if we need to. It’s going to have to be all of us coming together and finding a way to do better and to win.”
Second half offense
“I think we had four possessions in the second half. The first one, we wanted to come out, we dropped the first pass, we had a penalty, now it’s third-and-long, we weren’t able to convert. Then after that, they definitely pressed us up a little bit more. They played tighter man coverage, we weren’t able to get as much separation, we weren’t able to make as many plays that we’d like to.
“Little things that hurt us early in the season. The defense did adjust a little bit and they got us. We were limited in the opportunities. But I think we’ve gotta run the football better, we’ve gotta control the clock a little more. I think if we put too much pressure on the passing game to always perform at a high level, that’s not gonna happen. We’ve gotta find ways to distribute the ball, run the ball, not put as much pressure on our quarterback and find different ways to move the football.”
On quarterback Brandon Doughty, who was hit hard on WKU’s last possession at FAU
“He’s doing well. He just got the air knocked out of him. He actually had a guy open and was trying to do a little too much, which I don’t blame him, it’s the end of the game. He was trying to make a bigger play and really that’s not his game. He just got the air knocked out of him. He’ll bounce back and he’ll play well.”
Relying too much on Doughty
“We could do that. Obviously, I think we’ve performed well throwing the ball, but I don’t think that’s something we need to do. I think we need to take a little bit of pressure of him. I think we need utilize Leon Allen and Ace Wales and those guys and find ways to run the ball to get the ball in their hands.
“If you ask a quarterback who’s really a pocket quarterback to just do everything, that’s hard to do. Plays are going to break down, he’s going to have to make a few plays with his feet. I think he did do that one time on a key third down. There’s probably a few other times he could’ve, but I think he was trying to make the play in the passing game too much.
“You don’t wanna put too much pressure on guys. You want ‘em to do their thing, perform at a high level by you taking care of them, putting ‘em in good position. Obviously they’ll be some games where we might have to throw it a whole lot, but I do think that we need to get better at running the ball and find ways to move the chains, other than just throwing it and threw the air.”
Offensive struggles leading to defensive struggles
“It was not a good second half. They didn’t punt the ball. They scored every time they touched it and they had long drives and they controlled it. On offense, the few opportunities we had, we didn’t convert. A combination of those things and they definitely won the game by playing well in the second half and we didn’t.
“It’s a disappointing and you’d like to say, ‘This is the problem and this is the problem,’ I think we kind of know what the problem is and we’re trying to correct it and get better at it, but it’s going to be a process. It’s going to be a step-by-step process that we have to continue to find ways to do. But without question we have to play better in the second half. It’s good that we’ve played well in the second half. But if you can’t do it the entire game, it’s not gonna work.
“I think we’ve just gotta do the little things, like get some stops when we need ‘em. Tighten up the coverage a little bit here and there when we need it. We gotta find ways to not give ‘em the easy, uncovered throws, which we haven’t done. They got too many of those in the second half and they did that at UAB as well. So we’ve gotta do some little things like that. Our players gotta play faster as well at times, get lined up, and little things that need to continue to be corrected. A few of ‘em repeated itself. We’ve all gotta look in the mirror and get better and each of our guys will do that, each of our coaches will do that. Is it frustrating? Yes, but like I said before, half the teams are gonna lose, half the teams are gonna win and we’ve gotta find a way to win more than half. We definitely have to battle and fight through what we’re going through now.”
Wonderful Terry and Willie McNeal
On keeping the young players’ heads up with six games left
McNeal: “You just have to stay positive, motivated and stay hungry. You can’t give up now. You have a whole half of a season left. With four losses we can go eight and four. So you just have to stay positive and stay hungry.”
On sense of complacency coming out in the second half
McNeal: “I really wouldn’t say that as much. You just have to finish. Teams adjust to things we do we just have to finish.”
On adjustments the defense has to make
Terry: “I wouldn’t say that we’re not making adjustments and they are not working. You just have to go out and execute the adjustments that we are making. We have to do the little things. The little things are going to win the game for us.”
On losing the mojo in second half of games
McNeal: “I would say staying in the game. We have a young team. We have to keep the sideline up with the young guys, make sure the guys are in the game. When the defense is on the field, offense is on the sideline cheering the guys up just to keep everybody up awake during the game.”
On four of the next six games at home
McNeal: “You just have to play football at the end of the day. Home or away you just have to play football.”