Bobby Wilder Press Conference (Transcript and Video)
By ODU Athletics
Below is the transcript from the Bobby Wilder Press Conference.
Hey, good afternoon everyone, thank you all for coming. We’re coming off a heartbreaking 24-23 loss to UTSA in a game that we were down 7-0 after the first drive and then over the course of the first, second, and third quarter, we outscored San Antonio 23-3, which was clearly our best stretch of football this year. In the fourth quarter, we gave up two long drives. An 11-play drive and a 14-play drive where we just could not get the critical stop. We had the quarterback sacked at one point and lost it on a blitz, we had an interception we didn’t hang on to.
Offensively we had a third and two at midfield that we did not convert and followed that up with a poor punt, so we just did not execute the way we needed to in the fourth quarter and that’s been a theme for us in a really tough way that seven of our nine losses have come down to some critical situations in the fourth quarter that we’ve got to do a better job with, especially in these last two football games. As far as our team and preparation, there’s no question we were ready to play in this football game. It’s clear that Hayden Wolff, our freshman quarterback, has energized everybody in the program, all the players, coaches, staff. The challenging part right now is getting through some of the critical injuries we have. We’re affected defensively by Ross and Meiser being out at defensive tackle. We’ve had to adjust the lineup; we’ve had to move guys. Wilder and White have had to play some inside when they’re naturally edge players, which has increased reps. Tobias Moss going down in this football game made it a little more difficult defensively with some of the sub packages in the fourth quarter.
Speaking to the individual units and the performance, special teams. Nick Rice had an outstanding game, he was 3-3 on field goals, he’s now 14-17 this year with one of those being blocked at FIU that would’ve been made. I feel like he’s playing at an all-conference level. His kickoffs have been outstanding, he had a great tackle on one of the kickoffs.
Defensively, they had 68 plays for 419 yards and 24 points. We just didn’t tackle well early in this game, and then I mentioned the two drives in the fourth quarter where we just could not get a stop on third or fourth down. Calvin Brewton, our safety transfer from Florida State, played 70 snaps in this game. He never came off the field. He played his heart out, he had 12 tackles, which led our team. Lawrence Garner did what he usually does, an 11-tackle game. He leads Conference USA in tackles. He’s playing really good football. Then Keion White and Derek Wilder both had sacks. For those two guys both playing over 60 snaps in this game, I felt like they played really well.
Offensively, I mean, clearly this was our best performance of the year in terms of yardage. Especially throwing the football. We had 371 yards in the game. We had 23 points through the third quarter, 20 at halftime. Hayden Wolff was 17-29 for 247 yards. What you’re seeing, the biggest difference in the quarterback playing, is how quickly the ball comes out. Whether it’s in the RPO game or the drop back game, he gets the ball out on time. He’s doing an excellent job whether it’s his primary read or checking down to his secondary read. One of the key plays in the fourth quarter when we were down in the two-minute drill, we had a fourth and six, he comes off his primary read, quickly gets to the secondary read to convert a first down to Aaron Moore. Those are the things that help continue to do even better, and I felt like our entire offense played better around him. We had 11 different guys catch passes in the game, this was the best the offensive line had blocked all year. Obviously, having Weaver back at center made a big difference. But he’s inspired everybody, not only on our offense, but on our football team to play better football.
This week, we’re in a bye week, which is much needed. Our players will be off from practice until Friday morning. We’ll take these five days to really get healed up and spend a lot of time in the training room. I’m hopeful for the Middle Tennessee game that we’ll get Jeremy Meiser back and that’d be really big for us in the defensive line. But to get those guys feeling better, the point I made to those guys yesterday is that they’ll feel as close to August 1 when we first started as they have all year. Having this bye really comes at a great time. I met with our captains this morning, and they want to practice hard Friday, they want to be in full pads, they want it live, they want game situations that we need to perform better at, especially improving tackling on defense in that red zone. On offense, we need to get Hayden a lot of work down there. He just has not had a lot of work in the red zone where it’s condensed and it’s harder to throw and complete passes down there. It was inspiring to hear those guys talk about the sentiment of the team and what this football team wants to do with these last three weeks of the season, counting the bye week.
Q: You spoke about Derek; I know it may be difficult for you to talk about your son. You’ve got to be pretty proud of how he’s stepped up, he’s had a very good season.
BW: He has, he’s been playing really good football. He had a sack in each of the last three games, and he’s doing it right now having to play multiple positions because of the injuries. He’s size he needs to be to play defensive end, he’s probably 40 pounds light to play nose guard, which he’s had to play some because of the injuries, along with Keion White who’s had to play bandit and some D-tackle. But Derek is seeing the rewards from the work he’s put in. He’s finally as close to healthy as he can be. I made the announcement to those guys this morning that he’s earned the right to be a permanent captain along with Keion White. He’ll join Garner and Weaver, he and White. A lot of it has to do with how they’ve performed on the field, but also what they’re doing off the field with the players, particularly the younger players. I’m proud of him as his coach and proud of him as his dad.