Weekly press conference from Eastern Michigan Head Coach Chris Creighton and both offensive coordinator Kalen DeBoer and defensive coordinator Brad McCaslin. All three cover the 44-22 loss Saturday against LSU and look forward to this Saturday hosting the University of Akron.
Opening statement from Coach Creighton:
“There’s a lot of good, a lot of positives [from LSU game]. I told the team in the locker room afterwards my first thoughts and feelings about the game was that I was super proud of them. We had an offensive goal, a defensive goal and a special teams goal to really pair it down from that game. And then on top of that we talked about just establishing, again, our identity, taking steps forward with that about E-tough. And I really believe we took a step forward with that. From start to finish, our guys played incredibly hard with the toughness. You’re down 17-0 down there against LSU, and to come back 14-17, to be down again, and for the defense to force the first turnover that LSU’s committed this year. For the offense to knock it in. To go for two with Coach DeBoer’s creative play to bring it in to within one possession, you know it’s 22-30. Then later in the game, kicking an onside kick, just the toughness of our guys was great. We didn’t necessarily accomplish the three, the special teams, the offense and the defensive goals perfectly, but we were close. We took steps forward with that as well. There are always positives, and there’s always things that when you watch the film, you think some things probably went well and they may not have gone quite as well as you hoped and vice versa. Overall, I’m proud of our guys, and it’s about continuing to get better and building foundational things that won’t be easily moved. As we head into conference play now, we had Ball State earlier and I didn’t mind playing that early game at all. I wish we had a different result, being up 17, but it feels as though it’s a new season, a new slate. And I’ll tell you what I told the team last night, and that is that we can absolutely win every win every single game we will be playing for the rest of the season. And I think our guys believe that and know that. And then I also said we could lose every single game that we’re playing this season. And that’s the state that we’re in, and that’s not a bad thing. We have to be on top of our game. We have to be mentally, physically and emotionally ready and into every Saturday afternoon, and all the preparation that it takes to get into that moment, because when we’re on, we’re formidable. But if we’re lackluster in any way, if we’re not at the top of our game, if we think that we can just show up and play and be successful, we will be very disappointed. So, that’s what I think we’re at right now. I will tell you this, we’re super excited to get this slate going.”
Q: “What does Saturday’s game do for the program moving forward? Does it tell the rest of the country, particularly the conference, is going to have to respect Eastern Michigan more?”
Creighton: “I don’t know. To me, it’s probably more of a week-to-week scenario with that. Maybe there is an accumulation I think if you look at our body of work, we’ve been in every game, but we’ve come up short. We have plenty of work to do when we look at just the comparison of this year and last year, and it’s early in the season, but we think we’re better. We think we’re better in nearly every area. But I think our respect is going to have to be earned every week when we face the opponent.”
Q: Did the team lose any energy in the fourth quarter after LSU built the lead back up to 20? Did the team lose any confidence at all despite the loss, or did it stay high?
Creighton: “No, I don’t think we lost any confidence. We didn’t finish the game the way we would have liked. I don’t want this to be misconstrued at all, but in the locker room afterwards, there was disappointment. Our guys were playing. We had, again, chances late to do something special, and so, the locker room was disappointment. I tried to address the team in saying ‘Look, it’s not just the result oriented scenario. There’s a bigger picture.’ And we took steps forward. So there were positives to take out of the game. You don’t get opportunities like that very often and we were right in it and it didn’t happen and they were disappointed. Confidence though, I really don’t believe the confidence was shaken at all.”
Q: How do you translate that confidence going into this week facing Akron?
Creighton: “Well, the confidence still has not equated to finishing out games and playing out high level consistently all the way through. I really believe our guys aren’t back in their dorms or their apartments or sitting together at lunch or whatnot doubting whether we’re successful or whether we can be good. But in time, we have not been at our best in all three phases and our whole team, in practice and preparation, they know and believe that we’re getting closer and that we can, there’s confidence in that. But we’re still a team that’s backed into a corner right now and still needing to fight for respect, and I think that’s more where we’re at.”
Q: “Great Ibe wasn’t on the field much Saturday. Is he injured?”
Creighton: “Yeah, it’s not a long-term injury, but he was out with injury.”
Q: “Do you expect him to be back this week?”
Creighton: “Hope so. We will hear from our trainer this afternoon. It was a day-to-day deal. I think in emergency, we probably could have played him. But, yeah, we are expecting to have him back, but we will hear from her (the trainer) this afternoon.”
Q: Any update on Jeremiah Harris as well?
Creighton: “Jeremiah, it’s going to be a six-week - not from now, but when it happened – it’s six weeks. Now, at that point, they’ll revisit and re-look at it, but that was the window at six weeks. So, he won’t be with us until then.”
Q: At the start of the game, it seemed like stadium noise was an issue, as you had to use some early timeouts, how did you get back into the rhythm later in the game?
Creighton: “Well, I can see you thinking that, but it was a headset malfunction is why we had to call the timeout. I mean, why Coach DeBoer didn’t just yell out the window to us, I don’t know why. But, yeah, it was a headset malfunction on that. I think that our guys really handled the noise and the circumstances very well. And credit to the both of these guys [pointing at both coordinators] and the communication systems that they’ve been working on for a long time. We did call timeout, but it was because we weren’t able to hear each other.”
Q: “Brogan played a really great game and then had interceptions late. How do you find a way against the inconsistency in his play?
Creighton: “Well, I think Coach DeBoer summarized it very well, and that’s he is a competitor, and he really believes in his ability to make plays and his arm and whatnot, and that’s a double-edged sword. It really is. You want a guy who believes and is competitive, but then you have to temper that with not forcing things and knowing when it’s ok to take a bit of a chance and when you can’t. And so, the majority of his interceptions have happened later in games and when we’ve been down, and they’re still costly. His completion percentage was over 70 percent. Really played well, was unphased. But I think that forcing some of the balls that he did towards the end are ones I think he would like to have back.”
Q: The tight end play: Sam Browning had a phenomenal game, and Cody Tuttle again played well. How much does that help the offense moving forward?
Creighton: “It helps a ton. I think the creativity of our offensive staff and how they’re using those guys with their strengths has been really, really good throughout. Both of those guys are new to the program with Cole [Gardner] moving over to tackle. So, I think some of the personnel moves our offensive staff has made has really proved fruitful.”
For the entire Monday press conference, watch the link below: