Nov. 7, 2012
Cullowhee, N.C. - Western Carolina first-year head coach Mark Speir spent time Tuesday morning with members of the media on the Southern Conference's Head Coaches' Teleconference. He reflected on the home loss to Chattanooga last Saturday before turning his attention to this week's open date, and the looming date with the nation's top-ranked Football Bowl Subdivision squad, the Alabama Crimson Tide.
"We got off to a good start (against Chattanooga), had a halftime lead. I thought in the first half, offensively we moved the ball very well. Defense played probably as good as we've played in a while - scored on defense and took a halftime lead. Came back in the second half and our offense just became basically non-existent. We were dropping balls, jumping offsides, holding penalties - did some undisciplined stuff that we just killed ourselves."
He added, "Chattanooga ran the ball effectively with Jacob Huesman; kind of what we expected him to come out and do. Did more of it in the second half and we didn't tackle very well. They came out and made the plays and we didn't."
During the teleconference, Speir talked about a pre-game conversation he had last Saturday with UTC head coach Russ Huesman. The Mocs skipper likened the situation Speir inherited at Western Carolina to his own situation taking over the Chattanooga program back prior to the 2009 season.
"He said the biggest difference (from when Huesman took over to Speir taking over this year) was that he feels like the conference, from top-to-bottom, is so much better now than when he came in. It's a title bout every week you play in this conference," Speir said.
Western Carolina (1-9) is currently amidst its bye week, returning to the gridiron to wrap-up the 2012 season next Saturday, Nov. 17 as it visits the Football Bowl Subdivision's (FBS) top-ranked team, the Alabama Crimson Tide. Kickoff from Bryant-Denny Stadium is scheduled for 12:21 pm ET / 11:21 pm CT and will be televised on the SEC Network (check local listings for availability).
Speir commented that in addition to giving his team a few days off during this bye week, he was returning to the basics and treating the final two weeks of the season as a tune-up for spring practice.
"What we're doing this week is we're going back to basics," Speir explained. "We're doing a lot of individual, very little team. You get caught up in the season and you get worried about the schematics and the schemes of getting prepared for this team, that team. So what we're using this and next week for is two weeks of `spring practice' of going back to work, coaching techniques because that's a big part of why we got beat last Saturday - poor execution of techniques. So, we're going to use these two weeks to get our football team better and get our football program better."
Here's an excerpt from Tuesday's SoCon Teleconference:
Western Carolina head football coach, Mark Speir:
On the late timing of WCU's bye week in the schedule:
"In hindsight (having a late bye week) it's pretty good for me. You don't usually like them this late in the year or before you've got one more ball game. But, it's just kind of by accident that it's working out pretty good because we're still trying to build a program. We're trying to change mentalities, developing winning habits. With being able to play a team like Alabama, the No. 1 team in the country two weeks from now, our players are still excited about what's going on this season. They're excited about going down to Alabama and finishing up in an atmosphere against a program like that."
On how the team is focusing knowing it's going to play Alabama:
"If we were playing some no-name team, it might be hard for these two weeks for our players to go out and practice. But because of the excitement of being able to go down and play a team like Alabama in Tuscaloosa, our players are coming to work. We're probably using 25-percent of our practices this week and next week to actually scheme and put in an offense and defense for Alabama, and using the other 75-percent to just work with a lot of these young players that are playing for us right now."