The 5th Quarter with Coach Anderson: Game 2

By Jeff Greenberg

Week 2 of the Arkansas State football season brought the Red Wolves to Tuscaloosa to face the defending national champions, the Alabama Crimson Tide. Things got off to a rough start as the Red Wolves ended up falling 57-7 to the best team in the country. Here’s what head coach Blake Anderson had to say in this week’s installment of The 5th Quarter…

  • 1st Quarter: Despite not getting the final result you wanted, what did you take away from reviewing the game film this week? – “I think we saw a bunch of guys who desperately wanted to play well on that stage, and the magnitude of that atmosphere overwhelmed us a bit early on and led to us making some crucial mistakes early on in the game. When you play a team with the talent Alabama has, and they are every bit as talented as everybody thinks they are, you can’t make any mistakes because they will capitalize on them. Those mistakes get magnified and each mistake becomes massive. That’s what that first quarter was for us. From dropping a punt to dropping an interception right in our hands. From having two guys blitz that busted a coverage to a screen pass where three guys missed their assignments. In each of those cases, Alabama capitalized immediately and that put us in a huge hole. Now, I can’t argue with our effort. Our effort and intensity were great, and when we finally calmed down we actually learned some things, made some adjustments and played better football. So what you take away is a lesson on how to handle that type of environment in the future, but you also show them what they did well once they calmed down.”
  • 2nd Quarter: What were some of those moments in the second half that you saw to show them what they could build off of moving forward? – “For one, when we calmed down we started tackling better and executing the game plan better. We put together some better drives, not that they all ended up in the end zone, but they were better than earlier in the game. We punted well and covered one of the best punt returners in the nation really well. It was just better football in the second half. Cut down on the penalties and the busted assignments. And these guys never quit playing hard. They played hard for 60 minutes against a very fast and physical opponent. So there were some key learnings to pull out as the game went on that you want them to recognize and then apply to their work heading into practice this week and into the next game.”
  • 3rd Quarter: What was the body language like with your guys after the game when you addressed the team and then when you arrived back into Jonesboro? – “I thought they were very responsive and self-aware of the things we were discussing about that first quarter. I mean they were down, but not out. Guys were accountable for their own mistakes and recognized where they can get better. They knew we didn’t put our best product on the field early in the game. They were excited about the game plan we put in and saw some opportunities early in the game, but then disappointed that they didn’t take advantage of those chances. We knew we had to play our best and hope for them to falter a bit, but our guys know we didn’t play our best. So what I saw was good, positive body language. Guys responding with, “Yes sir, Coach I know where I made mistakes and understand what is needed to do better.” They understood what had happened. What they also understand is that moving forward we will be playing teams that look more like us. And if we can clean up those self-inflicted mistakes, we can have a lot of success in the games coming our way.”
  • 4th Quarter: Coming off of an electric experience against the #1 team in country, you now turnaround and head into a huge game on the road at Tulsa. What was the focus when you met with the team on Sunday? – “First thing we did was review the game film, identify the mistakes we made and start making those corrections. We cut down on penalties from week 1 to week 2 and we want to cut those even further this week. We made fewer mistakes than in week 1, but they were at critical times. So we talked about playing a cleaner game this week. This week is an important game on the road against a group of five opponent. You have to learn how to win on the road against a good opponent. That’s the focus this week. Doing what it takes to win on the road. Right now, that means focusing on us and correcting our mistakes because until we do that we can’t advance to the point where we think we can be this season.”
  • 5th Quarter: You’re two weeks into a season you feel can be a special one. What have you learned at this point about your team? – “First and foremost, I think our guys have learned that talent alone is not going to get us where we want to go this season. We have to build on our experience quickly with the guys that haven’t played a lot before this season. And we have to play cleaner football. I said it before the season, and I believe it today, this is the most talented and most athletic team that we’ve had here. But we have to grow them up and that doesn’t always happen as fast as you’d like. So we have drill down and teach every detail to expedite that growth curve. What helps that process is the fact that this group loves to play and loves to learn. They’re going to play their tails off for you and they’re eager to get better. They won’t quit. You put all of those factors together and you have a chance for great things. You look at our matchups in the future and you see more of them in our favor, if we play good football, not just physically, but mentally. I love this team and I love how they respond to teaching and how they’ve responded when we point out where we have to get better.”
  • Overtime: Did you know Nick Saban before and what was your conversation like before the game? – “I had met Nick here and there on the road during recruiting. We never really had any extensive conversations. Usually just some small talk. Before this game I tried to pick his brain a bit where their weaknesses were in what they did, but he really wasn’t willing to share those with me.”

Come back each week to see what Coach Anderson has to say about his team’s performance. You can follow Coach Anderson on Twitter at @CHbanderson and Arkansas State Football at @AStateFB.

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