Weekly press conference with Eastern Michigan football coaches Chris Creighton, Kalen DeBoer and Brad McCaslin. Points covered range from thoughts of 47-21 loss to Akron on Saturday and preparation for Toledo this week.
Opening statement from head coach Chris Creighton: “Like I said afterwards [after Akron game], it was a very disappointing day for us. When we play like we are capable, or close to it, we are pretty good. And if we don’t, things can get out of hand. And that’s what we saw. Talking to the team last night that in a seven day span, we saw close to two extremes. You see a team that is really mind, body, spirit engaged and, not doing everything right or perfect by any means, but as a team, we played pretty well and felt good overall of many things we did down in Baton Rouge. Then seven days later we come home and we saw the other extreme. It was one of our, as an entire program, one of our worst days. And the lesson learned is we’re capable of both. We’re not good enough to just show up and not be completely ready to go. So that’s the big thing we take away as a program out of the game.”
Q: Coach, this is Brogan [Roback]’s homecoming to Toledo. How do you prep his mindset going into this game?
Creighton: “I haven’t talked to him about that. We have a number of guys from Ohio, he’s from Toledo. Again, I haven’t had that conversation with him. I know that he’ll be really excited going back down there. I guess his freshman year, he would’ve done that as well. So, yeah, I need to talk to him about that.”
Q: You said you’d evaluate Reggie roughly after six weeks. Do you have status on him?
Creighton: “Yes, he has been cleared. Obviously has not taken a snap in a game since the third quarter of the first game, five and a half weeks or so. But both of those guys are gonna be practicing and preparing this week.”
Q: So will he be active for Saturday?
Q: So now obviously this is the second ranked team you have faced in three weeks. What challenges does that create and how do you pull off the upset?
Creighton: “They [Toledo] are really good, they deserve that ranking. However, people decide those things; I just know that they are a really good team. I’ll tell you that our guys seem to be excited for those games and those challenges. Obviously, we are putting plans together for Toledo, but it is such an internal challenge for us. It is truly about us being right, and us being at our best. Now, another team, how good they are can help bring that out. And, we’ve only had two road games, and we’ve played pretty well on the road. And our guys going away for only 45 minutes this time, it’s a program that has been pretty much the class of our conference and who’s playing at really a high level right now, but it’s about our guys playing at a high level, that is truly what it’s about.”
Q: “Toledo is 5-0 and has wins against Arkansas and Iowa State, do you ignore that all in preparation and how do you keep the players focused away from that?
Creighton: “Those things help the focus. Like I said, our guys against good competition are not afraid and act like they don’t want to play those games. It helps, and in some ways in a negative way, and so every game they gotta be that engaged. By no means were we overlooking Akron, but that’s not the case. But we still have the preparation, we still have the Saturday juice that we had the week before. So no, we don’t ignore anything with our guys. We have cutups of all of their games. It’s really less about how they played against these different people, but offensively, defensively and special teams, we’re getting cutups of different formations that they do offensively and the different sets and cuts and coverages that they will do defensively, and we study those. They’re studied as a group. All the different teams that they’ve played. So no, that’s not something that we ignore.”
Q: You mentioned Saturday that there were a couple bad practices last week. How do you approach this week differently?
Creighton: “Everything that we do is a learning experience. I think our guys, it’s not that they understood if practice mattered, but we’ve been talking about that a lot. We are a much better practice team this year than we were last year. Much, hands down. I know that there’s a lot of things that people can’t see the steps forward being taken, practice is one of them. Such to the degree that it was Wednesday, it wasn’t a couple, was a bad practice for us, and we had a team meeting the next day because of it. It wasn’t something that we were going to let slip and whatnot. And our guys responded, they played very well on Thursday. But, I think that the lesson overall that was learned is that it is not ok to take any days off. Again, I don’t think that guys came in and said ‘I’m gonna take today off,’ but you get a number of people that just aren’t locked in and things can go in the direction that you don’t want them to go. It’s really a focus and an intensity. It’s not guys walking off the field or talking back, that stuff is gone. It’s a matter of really being locked in and being intense. So yeah, we had a bad practice, and we can’t. Our guys care. That’s the other thing. They don’t want a bad practice. They want to be great. I think the steps, we’ve talked a lot about it. And we’ve proved to them that some things, like miscues in practice, showed up in the game. And our guys understand that. We’re not fighting our team, and that’s the exciting thing that some people may not be able to see is that we are all in this. We know we’re better. We know we’re getting better, but we’re talking about details and stuff. Some small, championship caliber things that we still need to work on and get better. So, still building.”
Q: You mentioned Reggie’s status, will he play this Saturday, or will practice dictate that?
Creighton: “We’re planning on it, but we’re gonna get him in there in practice. He’s been able to practice some, but without a helmet. There’s some things that he hasn’t been able to do. So, he’s not going to be going from completely dormant to practicing full-go all of a sudden. He’s been able to – it’s been a jaw injury, so his legs are healthy and he’s been able to throw, he just hasn’t been able to wear a helmet and be in contact. So, this week in practice, we’ve progressed as an offense, our coaches talked about that, and so, it’s hard when you’re not playing to keep up with that. This week in practice we will see how well he’s done with keeping up on how well we’re doing. But he will practice this week.”
For more from coach Creighton and thoughts from offensive coordinator Kalen DeBoer and defensive coordinator Brad McCaslin, watch this video: