Well this should be informative and entertaining shouldn’t it? The problem with these press conferences is that Hazell is in a no win situation (pun most definitely intended). If he goes up there and says “I’m a terrible coach I have no idea what I’m doing,” people with skewer him, rightfully so. If he goes up there and does the coach speak about “making adjustments” and “saw some good things” he gets ridiculed for being tone deaf which again, is rightfully so. This is by no means a defense of Hazell just a note on the absurdity of this situation. Let’s dive in.
Obviously looked at last week's film and there are a lot of things we made some corrections on Sunday night. We started on a lot of the detail things that make a difference. So we'll look at those things again today, Tuesday and Wednesday, and then we look forward to playing an Illinois team that's much better than their record implicates.
You know, Lovie is a really good football coach. I'm sure he's going through some frustrations. They were in a game last week against Nebraska where they were winning 16 to ten going into the fourth quarter.
So they're playing a little bit better than what their record indicates. Looking forward to that game at 3:30 on Saturday.
What about how to improve O-Line and Martesse Patterson
Yeah, we didn't block very well. They showed us a couple things and moved the front on us and we weren't as coordinated up front as we needed to be. So we have to get better in those areas.
Staying on double teams a little bit longer in the run game. Obviously our pass pro, we have to be much better. They matched us up one-on-one a couple times and they beat us a couple times up front and put pressure on David pretty early.
Patterson is still an evaluation process. As soon as we know more information we'll get you more information, but it's still a day-to-day process for us.
Yes, [Neal] can get better, and yes he has to get better. Obviously got to keep working and making sure he plays a little bit lower and understands the schemes a little bit better.
But, yeah, he can get better, and we expect him to.
What happened against the run?
Yeah, the one thing that hurt us last week - two things - were guys are trying to make a play, and when you try to make a play sometimes you jump out of your gap. That creased us more than enough times obviously.
It happens for every team every week, but it can't happen the amount of times it happened to us. Guys have to understand that there is a guy coming down in the hole to help him keep that ball inside. As soon as you overrun the ball and the ball cuts back, there is no second line of defense.
So we have to do a better job of understanding where our help is coming from and being able to stay in our gap and be able to tackle the ball that way. That was the one thing that really hurt us significantly last Saturday.
What is the process on corrections for the team? (Emphasis my own)
We started on Sunday even before we saw the film. We always have a corrections period on Sunday. The coaches will take our guys in and say, All right, let's walk through the issues that we had the previous day. So that's where we start our corrections.
We walk through the same run play that hurt us and all those different run plays that hurt us. We walk through those, showed guys fits, and then you could see where the help was coming from and how to get there and why you can't jump out of your gap.
Because as soon as jump our of your gap you're sealed and then there is the cutback lane. That's where it starts. You can obviously keep watching film to validate all those things that we're trying to teach them.
One or two times we got knocked off the tackle, which is a physical thing. And we missed a couple tackles. We didn't miss a whole lot of tackles. More miss-fits than missed tackles. It was more of us not trusting each other in the scheme as opposed to be out physicalled on the defensive side.
They were playing good defense at times. As crazy as that sounds, they were playing good defense to create plays, creating sacks, and then all of a sudden, bang, a big one would hit us for 50 plus yards. Obviously that's not good.
How does the team deal with all the outside chatter?
You know, I can't tell you how they're thinking obviously. One of them came up to me. Usually I'm coaching them to not worry, and they were coaching me on Sunday walking off the field. One of the players said, Hey, Coach, don't listen to the noise outside. I'm like, Okay, thank you.
So obviously they hear it, but I'm glad to hear the fact that they're not listening to it. They understand that people are going to talk. They have to worry about the things that they can control. That's not one thing that can control. They can control us trying to get to 3-2 against Illinois on Saturday.
Entire question and answer presented so as to not be judged as bias.
Q. You had said that you've seen the tangible improvements. When you took this job four years ago you said it was going to be a process. Every coach it's a process. How do you feel about where you are right now? You said things are better, but the Ws and the Ls aren't certainly where I would think you would have thought they would have been four years ago.COACH HAZELL: Well, again, you look at Saturday's performance and then everything feels so heavy to people. So you say, Oh, this is what's going on. All those comments you get after a performance like Saturday. Which Saturday obviously was not good.
But, again, we're four games, a third of the way, through the season right now. So much can happen from game 5 to game 12. You got to evaluate the whole system when you go through the process.
What needs to improve on defense?
I think everyone needs to improve. I told the team that on Sunday. Every single position group needs to improve. It's no different whether it's the secondary or it's the linebackers. We all need to improve and get better. I think that's how you continue to win football games.
But, you know, the defensive backs obviously have to get ball in the air a little bit more. There was a couple opportunities we had a chance to get it out of the air. Every single position group needs to improve.
How do you keep morale high?
I think you have to show them where you fell short. That's always where you start. Got to show them where you fell short and then just keep driving.
We'll talk about it for one more time today for two minutes, and then everything is Illinois and how to attack Illinois. But that builds morale. We need to have a great practice on the field today. Energy, execution, and then really starting to feel good about ourselves.
We've been a little bit like this, and have to start feeling good about ourselves today when we leave the field.
When you're in the locker room the players are obviously disappointed about the outcome of the game and how it got to that outcome.
But there are so many good leaders. Da'Wan Hunte was unbelievable on Saturday. Let me say a couple things. He was unbelievable because we were down whatever we were down, 50 to 7 or whatever it was, and he was out there in the offensive huddle saying, You better keep fighting.
He didn't need to say that because they were, but he was trying to pick his teammates up. We've got a locker room full of those guys. It doesn't concern me at all.
What matchups does coach see that give him hope this game is winnable?
Well, you know, I think that if you look at -- I think we'll be okay with our defensive line if we can stop the run. I think that's where it starts. I think we can. Offensively we have to be able to run the football.
We'll have some matchups on the outside that I think we can win on the outside. We got to protect him though. That's the key. Got to protect the quarterback. Can't let him take those shots.
I think the first game of Western Michigan No. 6 had a sack on the very first play; the second play I think someone had a sack. So you got to be really careful on picking and choosing when you drop back and really do five-step protections without help, five-man protection as well as six-man protection.