RUTGERS UNIVERSITY FOOTBALL MEDIA CONFERENCE
September 9, 2017
Eastern Michigan - 16, Rutgers - 13
COACH ASH: All right. Go ahead and start. First, hats off to Eastern Michigan. They did a great job. Made the plays in all three phases when they needed to, and obviously helped them win the football game.
Disappointed in the outcome of the game. Several things there that we've got to clean up in all three phases to be able to come out on top and win a game. But, you know, I'll go ahead and open up to questions.
Q. What's the mood in the locker room like and what's the message to the team?
COACH ASH: Well, obviously it's not a good mood in the locker room when you lose a game. I don't care who you lose to. A loss is a loss and when you've invested a lot like these players have, and you lose, it hurts.
You know, we'll bounce back. We'll come back and we'll go to work again tomorrow. But you know, right now, they are hurting.
Q. What did they do against you, against your offense, that really kind of slowed you down?
COACH ASH: Played hard. Played hard, tackled well. Didn't make a lot of mistakes, and you know, that's really, until I watch the film, that's what I saw. I saw a team that played really hard defensively. They were active up front, and we had things that were open. We just can't take advantage of them.
Q. Did you see the penalty on the last play?
COACH ASH: I did not see it. Have to watch film to see what actually happened.
Q. You had seven, I think seven, maybe, three-and-outs. Do you look at that as maybe not scoring enough points earlier to leave room for error at the end, those last two drives?
COACH ASH: No, again, until you evaluate the film to look at all of it, you know, we just didn't make plays s in all three phases. We had opportunities to get off the field at times on third down defensively; that would have preserved time and things like that we didn't do it.
But you know, there were opportunities to make plays offensively and we didn't make the plays. And the same thing special teams. We had opportunities to pin them in and win the battle of field position a couple times with our punt team and we didn't. So there was a lot left out there on the field in all three phases.
Q. Without watching the film yet obviously, what did you see on the final drive, the two-minute drill, how that was run, and what eventually happened at the end?
COACH ASH: Well, I mean, at the end, I guess they said his knee was down. You know, they replayed it and confirmed it. You know, obviously we were really excited about blocking the field goal the way we did.
You know, disappointed about the interception the drive before. Jawuan Harris runs down, makes a tackle. We end up blocking a field goal. Gave us life and hope to go move down the field and either score with a field goal or touchdown. We got into field goal range; a penalty took us out of it. We thought we had one more opportunity to maybe get us back into manageable field goal distance, and didn't work out. You know, and Kyle was called down.
Q. What did you think of the way that Kyle played overall tonight?
COACH ASH: You know, just standing on the sideline, again, there were plays out there that we would have liked to have been able to make. I'll reserve judgment on saying it was a good game or a not-so-good game until we watch film, but I do know there were plays that were out there offensively both in the run game and pass game that we did not capitalize on and we didn't make.
Q. What was the thinking on putting in Johnathan Lewis for those two plays?
COACH ASH: You know, we were just tried to find some rhythm on offense to get a spark of some sort. We had been wanting to get Johnathan Lewis involved in the game and see what he could do. You know, one time he had a misread where he should have handed it off; one time he should have kept it, you know, but that's a learning experience for him.
Yeah, it was just conversation. We obviously were in a point in the game where things weren't going great. We just didn't get any flow, any rhythm. We were kind of stalling out, and thought maybe Johnathan could go in and see if he could give us a spark.
Q. All those defensive pass interferences on the cornerbacks, what can you guys do to clean that up?
COACH ASH: You know, when we play an aggressive style, you're going to get some of them. I don't necessarily agree with all of them were called but you know, we'll watch the film and look at it.
But you know, we've just got to finish better. Some of those throws are good throws and well-executed routes. They are just reading our leverage and either going over the top or back shoulder phase, and those are tough to defend. You know, we'll keep working at it, and we'll look at the film and see if it was something with our position or our ability to finish.
But I'll give them credit; their quarterback threw some nice balls and they made some nice catches, too.
Q. You said on Monday that there was no way you would overlook this game, having lost, whatever it was, ten in a row. In hindsight, the first half, any fear that your players did?
COACH ASH: No, I thought we had a good week of preparation. If anybody took these guys for granted, I sure wouldn't have noticed it throughout the week with our preparation, our focus.
I thought we had a great week of practice. It was our first week of practice with classes and we started off the week slow on Tuesday but we had a good Wednesday, good Thursday, good Friday practices. I thought we had good focus today.
We just didn't make some plays that were there. I don't want to overcomplicate it, oversimplify it. However, you want to look at it, we need to play better. We will play better but we need to play better, win football games and that's on me. I've got to get the football team ready and our coaching staff we have to get the football team ready to make those plays that are out there.
Q. Probably in hindsight it's not a big impact on the game, but the first quarter there was some strange play with Janarion, they thought he called a fair catch but ended up calling off-setting penalties. What explanation did you get?
COACH ASH: The rule is if you make any signal towards the ball, whether it's a safe (ph), a point, things like that, you're not able to advance the ball. Janarion, they say he made a slight signal with his hands trying to get guys to stay away from the ball and that was the penalty.
Q. The way you guys ran the ball to start the third quarter to get 27 rushing yards in the first half, and then a hundred in the third quarter, was that a concerted effort and did they take that away in the fourth quarter?
COACH ASH: Yes and no. We would have liked to have been able to run the ball that way throughout the whole game. You know, again, just the message we keep trying to talk as a program. It's the great mystery: How do we play consistently; how do we run the ball consistently; how do we play consistently; how do we run the ball consistently; how do we throw it consistently; how do we protect the quarterback consistently; how on defense do we stop the run and defend the pass consistently; play consistently on special teams. So it's all phases.
But to run the ball, yeah, we want to be able to do it that way from the start. They didn't take anything away in the fourth quarter. We had the wind at our back. Obviously we were in a tight ballgame, and we needed to try to improve our pass game so we tried to throw the ball a little bit.
But you know, again, credit to them. We came out in the third quarter, ran a little bit; and whatever they did, they made some adjustments, I guess and made some plays, got some stops.
Again, until I watch the film, you know, it's hard to comment on exactly what might have changed from that standpoint.
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