Weekly press conference with Eastern Michigan head coach Chris Creighton, offensive coordinator Kalen DeBoer and defensive coordinator Brad McCaslin. This week covering the team’s loss to Toledo and looking ahead to Northern Illinois.
Opening statement from Coach Creighton: “[Toledo] is a good football team. Gotta give credit where credit is due. They’re very well coached – they’re a good football team. I will say this though: we were playing good football early on. We just didn’t play for four quarters. We challenged our team, there were a lot of things we did well, but we challenged our team for a noon kickoff and not to have to wake up and realize we are in a football, but to be energized and locked in and we were. Come away with two field goals and, as coach [DeBoer] said, if one of those were a touchdown, it has a different feel to it, obviously with more points. And our defense stopped them twice beginning of the game there, a three-and-out, and we’ve been really working on our rush defense and our base front really were playing well against the run. So we had the turnover, we had the blocked field goal and all of a sudden at halftime because of a couple situations the score was more than it needed to be. And then second half we just weren’t able to respond. They threw the ball efficiently and we missed some tackles and all of a sudden they have a lot of points. Offensively, when we got into a rhythm, we were effective. We had over 450 yards of offense and over 280 yards rushing. But, it was a good team that beat us, and I would have liked to see our team play for four quarters the way that we did for a quarter and a half. Are we capable of that? I absolutely believe so. And until we do so, it obviously raises the questions.”
Q: It seemed like a couple calls went against you, primarily the targeting call that was waived off. Did that affect the momentum at all?
Creighton: “I mean, having a first down, with half the distance to the goal as it would have been, it would have been helpful no question. But the officials got together, didn’t review it up top, but reviewed it on their own and decided it wasn’t targeting.”
Q: How did you ultimately decide to go with Reggie [Bell] as the starting quarterback?
Creighton: “He was our starter before he got hurt and broke his jaw. Each situation is its own animal. You can sort of generally say you don’t lose a position due to injury, but you can win a position when somebody is hurt and whatnot. So, it’s not as black and white. But, the thing about Reggie’s injury, it wasn’t a shoulder or a leg injury. So although he wasn’t cleared for competition for six weeks, he’s been able to run, he’s been able to throw, he’s been able to be engaged. Although there still was some rust, first time playing in six weeks, we felt as though he was ready to go.”
Q: Give us some injury updates on Anthony Zappone and Reggie Bell, who suffered injuries Saturday.
Creighton: “[Zappone] has a significant knee injury and he won’t be able to come back this year. Reggie’s is much more minor. It will be more day-to-day to see how quickly he gets back, but it will be more to see how close to 100 percent he is, that’s more the question with him.”
Q: It has been two years since Demarius Reed was killed. Obviously you didn’t coach him, but some current players were teammates of his, have you talked to the team about his memory at all?
Creighton: “We didn’t talk about it and bring it up as a team this year. Most of the things that we’ve done over the last two years have been led by the team. It was our guy’s idea to bury his jersey under the 50-yard line underneath the new field. Our guys wanted to fly balloons for him on his birthday that first June. We on picture day, the wide receivers had the jersey number two up. I know that there was talk about it, but as a team, we have not had any scheduled ceremony or anything. But you could see through social media that there wasn’t a guy that knew him that wasn’t thinking about him.”
Q: Can you compare and contrast this Northern Illinois team to the one you almost beat last season?
Creighton: “Northern Illinois is still really good, and that’s one way to say it. I mean, they played Ohio State incredibly well. And they’ve played Ball State incredibly well. And they’ve played some very good teams in our league. And so, they have the same quarterback, I think that’s where you start offensively. He’s better. He’s more of a seasoned quarterback. He’s running the ball effectively, he’s throwing the ball effectively. They have weapons all over on both sides of the ball. They’re very well coached. And special teams, it was a new coordinator, but it was someone who has been on their staff, so we know that’s one area that is well coached as it has been. Defensively, they are very well coordinated, they know what they’re doing. One of the things that pop off the screen, and they aren’t doing anything different from last year. They are explosive, they move quickly, they are athletic. They have a cornerback who has seven interceptions. I don’t want to say they are just same old Northern Illinois, I have only been here one year, but there’s a reason they’ve won our league so many years and in recent years, and they absolutely are capable of doing that again this year.”
For more from coach Creighton and thoughts from offensive coordinator Kalen DeBoer and defensive coordinator Brad McCaslin, watch this video: