Press Conference: ODU football coach Bobby Wilder

oduODU football coach Bobby Wilder talks with reporters at his weekly press conference on Monday.

 

Opening statement: Good afternoon everybody and thanks for coming. I have some great news. The sun did come up this morning, and it is a beautiful new day. As I told our team, the goal this week is to go 1-0 against UTEP.

In regards to the game, and obviously the most important aspect of it, we had a very scary situation with Daniel Appouh. He was on a pass rush and had a long-arm technique going against the tackle and slipped and fell, hitting his head and shoulder on the back of one of the offensive linemen. That was probably the scariest thing I’ve been involved with in all my years of coaching, being out on the field holding Daniel’s hand while he was on the ground and the medical staff was immobilizing his head and neck area. Danny hung in there as best he could, and he was immediately transported to the local hospital. They cleared him, which was good news, and he was able to make it on the flight home with us. He still has some soreness and tingling in his arm, but our coaches and medical staff will closely monitor him. He is having some trouble sleeping, but he is such a good person with a tremendous attitude, so he will keep working to get himself better.

In regard to the altercation that happened in the third quarter of the game, both Wood Selig and I have been in contact with the league office. We should know more this afternoon from the league. I addressed it with our team immediately after it happened on the field and in the locker room. We discussed it at length again yesterday in our team meeting. One thing I will say is that we take tremendous pride in being one of the least penalized teams in the league all three years we’ve been in it. We are among the top in the country in terms of fewest penalties, as sportsmanship is something that is very important to our organization.

Getting back to the game, we were fully outplayed and dominated in the first half of this game in all three phases by a very good Western Kentucky football team. This was a team that played Alabama, the best team in the nation, closer than a lot of other teams have this year. They lost in overtime to Vanderbilt and lost to LA Tech, which is the best team in the C-USA West right now. They held us to 67 yards on the ground and we had zero sacks versus their pass game. Their ability to dominate the line of scrimmage was big for them. They beat us in special teams and dominated us on third downs. We were 2-for-13 and they were 8-for-12. Every area is going to need to be better for us before we head to El Paso to take on a solid UTEP team.

UTEP is currently 2-5 and 1-3 in C-USA play. In their five-game losing streak they scored a combined 56 points, but they scored 52 points in the game they just won over UTSA in five overtimes. I give a lot of credit to their coach, Sean Kugler, and their players and staff for going into the bye week after that five-game losing streak and addressing the things they needed to fix. They played a very gutsy game against UTSA and just kept battling despite being down multiple times.

They play hard in all three phases and are a physical team. They are an extension of their head coach. Sean is a great coach. They showed a lot of mental toughness, so we will need to have a great week of practice. We need to stay focused on the process of winning, and that all starts with preparation and practice. Then we just have to execute on Saturday.

We are 4-3 overall right now and 2-1 in the league. As I shared with our team, we are tied with four other teams in the league that only have one loss. We clearly control our destiny moving forward starting this week at UTEP.

Q: How important is it on Sunday after a game like that to have a sense of humor with the players?
A: It is absolutely critical. When you are working with young people, you always have to let them know there is something better ahead. There are things you can control, which is how we prepare, and there are things you can’t control, like the result. We are going to work really hard to control the things we can control, and I guarantee you I’m going to do it with a smile on my face.

Q: How critical is it to know when to get on the players’ case and when to back off a little bit?
A: It is the most critical thing. Every team in the country is a little bit beat up right now. We didn’t get back until3 a.m. Sunday, so the guys were feeling pretty tired at our meeting yesterday afternoon. The first thing I made everyone do was stand up and repeat after me “We are a good football team.” That was the message to them. That game is over and we are only going to focus on what we can control.

Q: Are they feeling better about themselves yet?
A: They were a little bit shook. We all were. The mindset has to be that we need to move on. The last three weeks of practice have been tremendous, and were the best three weeks we have had all year, in fact. The expectation is that this will be our fourth-straight week of great practices. At this point in the year, we usually cut back a bit too because of the constant physical pounding that they’ve been going through. It is also the eighth week of the school semester, so we need to keep their minds fresh.

Q: WKU’s quarterback completed 28 of 32 passes. What happened there defensively?
A: He has been doing that to pretty much everybody. He started the season by throwing for 550 yards against Rice. Alabama was really the only team that’s held him in check. That isn’t an excuse, though. We need to play better. We needed to get more pressure on him. We had zero sacks. We need to play better in coverage on the back end and tackle better, too. WKU has two NFL-caliber wide receivers who both played to that standard in that game. That is an area we need to practice to get better.

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