Appalachian State Coastal Carolina Football

Appalachian State head coach Eli Drinkwitz kneels to watch the game from the sidelines in the third quarter of an NCAA football game on Saturday, Sept. 28, 2019, at Kidd Brewer Stadium in Boone, N.C. The App State Mountaineers defeated the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers, 56-37.

BOONE — Appalachian State (7-0, 4-0 Sun Belt) plays Georgia Southern on Thursday, putting Hate Week on a short turnaround.

App State, ranked 20th in the nation, is coming off a 30-3 victory at South Alabama on Saturday.

Coach Eli Drinkwitz spoke about Georgia Southern and other topics during his weekly press conference on Monday. Here's what he said:

OPENING STATEMENT

“First and foremost, we’d like to just pass along our condolences to Georgia Southern, their football team, their university and the family of Jordan Wiggins on his passing. Our hearts and our thoughts and prayers are with them as they go through this. I know Chad (Lunsford) personally. He’s a great leader and a great man. I know he’ll lead their team the right way through this. It’s bigger than football, and just in the football family, we’re all a part of that family. We know how hard that is to lose a teammate. So want to say we’re definitely thinking about them as they go through that. Looking forward to a great game this Thursday. It is going to be a very difficult opponent.They obviously have a tremendous scheme on offense that they’ve been good at for a very long time at Georgia Southern. Their defensive scheme and talent is really good. Coach (Scot) Sloan, a former App football coach, has done a tremendous job there defensively. And we know what this game means and the significance it has going into the season. And so with that, I’ll open it up with questions and we’ll go from there.”

On what he liked and didn’t like from the South Alabama game:

“I liked that we won. I liked that our defense was dominant. I liked that we didn’t have turnovers. Our special teams made some big plays — two 20-yard returns, a blocked field goal — I think we were 3-for-4 on field goal attempts. What I didn’t like was our inconsistency offensively on third downs and our lack of touchdowns in the red zone, which is something that we’ve been very good at so far. We weren’t as sharp as we needed to be in the red zone.”

On what he thinks caused the third-down struggles:

“I mean, on third down, it was self-inflicted wounds. We had pressure on one of them. We had a misread on one of them. We had miscommunication on one of them. Those are self-inflicted wounds that we can correct and we will correct. No, I don’t think it was a them issue. It was an us issue.”

On his confidence in running back Marcus Williams Jr.:

“Well, Marcus was the offensive MVP. Provided a really nice spark, had two explosive run and the touchdown. I mean he was a productive player on tape last year when you go back and watch the efficient runs and inefficient runs from last season. You got to see him on tape quite a bit. He practiced in the spring and did some really nice stuff. We’ve all known he was a talented player.”

On if the weather was an impact against South Alabama:

“No. Only in warmup. I had wet socks. I don’t know if wet, soggy socks and shoes were a factor.”

On what/who was responsible for red zone struggles:

“Me. I’m the offensive coordinator. I’m the head football. It’s my job to make sure our offense is ready to play and I call plays that we can execute, and I didn’t get it done It’s as simple as that. It’s not their fault. It’s not this fault. It’s my fault. We will work to get that corrected this week. I didn’t do a good enough job getting us the ability to stay ahead in the chains and run the football, which we’ve been able to do. And we didn’t convert on third downs. So that’s a me issue. So we’ll get it fixed.”

On facing the Georgia Southern defense run by Sloan, a former App State co-defensive coordinator:

“I’m going to break that question down in two parts. One, I hope they’re coming up here. And two, it’s not the same scheme as us. We’ve got a different scheme. What we do is totally different. I don’t know what they’ve done in the past. I didn’t study the defensive playbook. I know our defensive staff has incorporated similar things from what they’ve done, but I would say it is a different scheme. It probably helps us having Coach (D.J.) Smith and Coach (Greg) Gasparato because they do know that scheme. It probably helps us having Coach (Justin) Watts and Coach (Shawn) Clark because they do know that scheme but it is different than ours.”

On being a head coach in a new rivalry:

“You know, I think this: every traditional, championship has rivalries. And they have a game they look forward to every year because it’s going to have significant implications for their chance to win a championship. And for me, the biggest rivalry I was ever involved in was Alma-Greenwood. Alma High School, Greenwood, Arkansas — that’s as big as it gets. You know, so I think that game — Yeah, Auburn-Alabama is a big game. N.C. State-North Carolina is a big game. Boise State-Fresno State is a big game. Everywhere you go, they have those games, and it’s usually because those games have championship implications. So for us, I understand the rivalry. I get it. I’ve gotten plenty of texts from alumni telling us, you know, how important this game is, in understanding the significance, but for our team, for us this season, it’s important because it’s a divisional game, and it’s a game in conference. And if we want to get to where we want to go, which is to win the Sun Belt Conference championship and a bowl game with class, integrity and academic excellence, this team stands in our way. And I don’t want to make it any bigger than that. I don’t want to make it any less than that. It’s a big game because if we want to win a conference championship, we need to beat these guys. That’s what it is. They’ve got one loss in the conference. If they were to happen to beat us, they’d have the tiebreaker on us. So that puts us without being able to control our own fate. So that’s why it’s a big game.”

On the head coach-offensive coordinator balance:

“I think it’s going fine. It allows me to be more comfortable in my day-to-day organization and process because I’m used to what I need to do as offensive coordinator and then I’m able to set aside times to focus on being the head coach. But I think it has allowed me to be more routine oriented.”

On advice he would give someone attempting the same task:

“You know, I was with Coach (Gus Malzahn) in Arkansas State when Coach (Rhett) Lashlee was the offensive coordinator when he (Malzahn) was the head coach calling plays. I was at Ark. St. when Coach (Bryan) Harsin had myself and Bush Hamdan as co-offensive coordinator and he called plays, and it went back and forth. I was able to see it first hand and experience it. Not necessarily call and ask for experience and kind of just took my own takeaways from it. But the biggest thing for me in getting the first head-coaching job was I wanted to try to make sure that we play to our strengths, whether it was as a coaching staff or players. For me coaching, my strength was the offensive side of the ball, developing quarterbacks, calling plays, and I know hat I wanted the foundation of that offense to look like. I don’t know if I’ll always do it, but I know I’ll always have the knowledge of what we’re doing and be able to be involved in it. I also thought it was important to have an experienced defensive coordinator, obviously that’s paying off for us in a significant way right now with Coach (Ted) Roof, and also an experienced special teams coordinator which is paying off with us in a significant way with Coach (Erik) Link. And so, my thought behind all of that was the strength of all three of us would be we’re not new to our jobs. What happens is a lot of first-time head coaches hire their buddies that are also a first-time defensive coordinator or first-time special teams coordinator, and you’ve got a lot of firsts going on. Right now, the only person that doesn’t know what the crud he’s doing is me as the head coach. The rest of the time, we’ve got a pretty good grasp of what we’re doing.”

On what he expects to see from the Georgia Southern offense and defense:

“Well, defensively they return six starters. They got two of the best corners in the conference — Monquavion Brinson and Kindle Vildor. I may have mispronounced that last name but they’re really good players. They do a nice job in the coverage schemes. They mix up both zone, man, trap. They’ve got a lot of coverage variations. They’ve got experience at their outside nickel position or strike position, they rotate multiple guys. They’ve got returning starters at linebacker. I believe their boundary end is as good a player as we’ll see all year, Raymond Johnson. And so, they’ve got experience in the schemes. They do a great job of flattening out the ball, which means they clog up the interior, flatten the ball, and let their edge players make the tackles. So you’ve got to try to puncture the defense at some point. They have great coverage variation so you’re not able to get the ball over top of them. And they’ve done a nice job with their defensive scheme. They play extremely hard. They tackle well. They’ve got good athletes. So defensively it’s going to be a very tough task. Offensively, they run the triple option. It all starts with the quarterback, who I think does an outstanding job of distributing the football, making the right reads. He can throw it and get on the edge. They’ve got two dynamic running backs. Obviously, J.D. King is the transfer from Oklahoma State. They’ve had some injury issues with the offensive line so I’ve been impressed with the way they’ve been able to still run the ball effectively. I think they rushed for 400 yards last game in a monsoon. So they’re starting to create their identity on the offensive side of the ball within their option scheme, and they do a really nice job with it. Coach Lunsford coaches the special teams so it’s obviously a point of emphasis for their team, and I think they’re one of the top. . . their definitely in the top 10 on kickoff coverage in the country. So they do a nice job with their team. You know, they’ve only lost three games. And the combined win-loss record of those three losses, the teams they got beat by only lost two games. That’s ULL. They got beat by LSU and Minnesota. LSU’s No. 1, Minnesota’s top-15 in the country right now. They’ve played a very difficult schedule. They had Minnesota beat. Minnesota overcame a third-and-20, or a third-and-30, and converted a fourth down in order to get that game-winning drive. So they are a very good football team. They know how to win. They’ve played two overtime games, won both of them. So very impressed with the job that Coach Lunsford has done, and we’ve got our hands full.”

On the fact that the televisions in the athletics building is playing the Georgia Southern game and if he's emphasized how App State lost their ranking to them last year: 

I haven't mentioned it, but if it's on the TVs. 

Recommended for you

Load comments