Here are quotes from coach Trent Miles, quarterback Nick Arbuckle and linebacker Joseph Peterson after Saturday’s 52-10 loss to Arkansas State at the Georgia Dome. These are courtesy of John Manasso:
“They beat us from the very beginning. That was not the same football team that I’ve seen for five weeks going into this game. On our side, that falls on our coaching staff and me as the head coach to get them to play at a certain level and today obviously we did not compete well enough to be able to play with a team like Arkansas State, who is a co-champion from last year.”
Did things snowball early and get away from you?
“I mean, we couldn’t stop them. We went down and we drop a pass and they get the ball and go right down and score. We didn’t play at the level that we are capable of playing at. I never saw it coming this week. Usually as a coach you have a sense during the week of how they’re preparing and I thought we prepared well. Our kids were excited and practiced hard. We executed well in practice. It’s the responsibility of me as the head coach to have them playing at a high level and I failed to do that today.”
The defensive mistakes, you had them third-and-11 just before the half and they broke a long run on another touchdown drive. What do you attribute that to?
“We missed tackles, ran out of a gap. Got outran. Just wasn’t so much mistakes as far as not being where you’re supposed to be, we didn’t as a coaching staff well enough to make the plays today.”
What difficulties did their defense give your offense?
“Speed off the edge. Nick got hit more today than he did all season. They stuffed us running the ball. We weren’t able to really run the ball. We started off that first series running the ball pretty well but then they made some adjustments. We tried to attack it but we weren’t able to run the ball until later in the game, I think the last drive of the game. We turned one-dimensional and we couldn’t protect and we needed to keep the defense off the field. They rolled up the points.”
How did not having your starting left tackle Michael Ivory with a foot injury affect you?
“Well, Mike Ivory’s an excellent football player. He’s a guy that two years from now pro scouts are going to be looking at him. I mean, they’re already looking at him now so any time you take him out of the equation that hurts you but Steve Wolgamott can play and we just did not perform. Again, it’s the responsibility of the head football coach and the coaching staff to have these guys performing at a high level and we failed as a staff today to do that.”
The decision to go to Ben McLane, was that because of the hits on Arbuckle?
“Yeah, I mean it was 45-3. I’m not going to take a chance and have Nick get beat up or injured for the rest of the season when the game was pretty much out of hand. I mean, I didn’t have a 42-point play, you know what I mean? So I wasn’t going to put him in a position to get injured so we started making substitutions. I wanted to watch guys and see how they competed. I was disappointed in leadership. I was disappointed in a lot of things and it starts with, again, myself and my coaching staff. It’s our responsibility.”
What will you do next week to try and keep Nick off the turf?
“Block better. We’re not going to invent a new offense. Our protections are fine. We were getting beat at certain positions and we just have to do a better job. As coaches, I have to do a job of getting them to perform better than they did.”
Were they doing a lot of stunting?
“They move their line. They’re a speed team. They’re not nearly as big as Louisiana-Lafayette so they’re more of a speed team but they caused us problems today. Again, don’t take credit away from Arkansas State. They came in here, they jumped all over us, they deserved the win. They did an outstanding job and we did not. And it starts with me.”
How did getting one-dimensional make it harder on the offense?
“Whenever you get one-dimensional, especially when you take away the run because you’re so far behind you have to pass, it allows the defensive line to pin their ears back and rush hard up field because they know they don’t have to be responsible for their run gaps and it allows them to do more twists and stunts to get pressure and that’s what they were able to do.”
Did the twists and stunts create a lot of confusion (note: It definitely looked this way to me):
“They’re just really good at them. We knew that coming in, especially when we’re sliding our offensive line away from the stunt. It’s real tough. It’s not like a blitz. It’s hard to see where it’s coming from. There’s nothing that can give it away where it’s coming from. So it’s just hard to pick up.”
Did they make it difficult to see downfield?
“Yeah, at times because they’re good at taking away the first read. They did a really good job of game-planning against us so they designed their coverage to take away my first read, making me get to my second or third receiver, and they were good enough at creating enough pressure to where I didn’t have the time to do that.”
Coach Miles said he didn’t see type of performance coming, did you?
“No, I would never see anything like this happening. Watching the film and watching what we were able to do against them last year and what we were able to do the last five games, I expected fully that we were going to be able to win coming into this game. If you were to say the final score was going to be 52-10, I would have guessed it would have been us with the 52 points but they came out here ready to play and their team played their hearts out and we didn’t show up.”
You took a lot of hits. How are you feeling?
“I feel better than I do after the Lafayette game because those weren’t the same sized guys as were landing on me at Lafayette or Washington. So I can walk, that’s always good and I can feel my right arm. I’ll be ready to get in the weight room tomorrow and definitely get in the ice bath tomorrow, as well.”
Tough day for the defensive today. In the big picture how did you see things, what were some of the problems there?
“Well, it was a really good Arkansas State team and we have to do a better job of preparing during the week. We didn’t have a great week of preparation. I put that on me. I’m the team leader so I’m expected to push the defense. We expect the offense to put up a bunch of points. I told our guys we could get them the ball back. We didn’t do our job on getting the ball back on turnovers either.”
In the second quarter you had a bunch of stops. But in the first quarter they scored on four straight possessions. Just a bad start?
“Like I said, it was preparation during the week. Obviously, we weren’t prepared for this Arkansas State team.”
What will you do next week to help preparations?
“Continue to lead. Stay on the guys. I mean, for us to get better we have to work hard. It’s as simple as that.”
What were the same of the things that make them a really good team?
“They were really up-tempo. We didn’t prepare for that at all in practice. It’s not that we didn’t prepare for it but we didn’t play as hard in practice to prepare for that. They’re moving pretty fast.”
Is it hard to simulate that speed?
“Of course, yeah. It’s different speed from the game.”
After you got the turnover from them (in the second quarter) were you hoping it would be a momentum shift?
“We definitely was looking at anything to be a momentum shift at that point. It was a great play that Tanner Strickland made, made a strip. He had two of them. He played a very good game. So we definitely look at that as a momentum shift.”
When they’re playing that fast and snapping the ball that fast, is it difficult to get everybody lined up right?
“Yeah, it is. We have to do a better job. I have to do a better job of getting guys lined up.”