Homecoming is opportunity to win for a home crowd
Thursday, October 2, 2003
Homecoming 2003! It should be a great weekend on the Southeast campus, and we are excited to have national television coverage for our football game on The Football Network with the telecast available locally on UPN station WQWQ.
I still receive phone calls about the great television coverage by Fox Sports Net for the SIU game. This is great exposure for our university. Dress in red and black and make signs -- you may end up on national television.
Our crowds have been great, and I hope we have another big homecoming crowd on Saturday. We are disappointed we haven't given you a victory this season, but I assure you the team is working very hard and is eager to make you proud.
Last Saturday at Samford, I felt our team was ready to play and excited about opening Ohio Valley Conference play. In actuality, we came out flat. I think our players were so worried about making mistakes that they just didn't play with enthusiasm during the first part of the game.
Finally in the third quarter we started to play the way we are capable of playing, and for the last quarter and a half we played as well as we have since I have been coach at Southeast. Unfortunately it was too little, too late, but our players really responded as a team and made a tremendous comeback to get back in the game. We had a couple of turnovers that hurt, but for the first time this season I felt like we were playing as a team. The offense was encouraging the defense, and the defense was cheering on the offense. It was a total team effort.
To compete with a good Eastern Illinois team on Saturday we have to play a whole game the way we played in the last quarter and a half at Samford. We have to start playing with the reckless abandon you saw at the end of last season. This is a big game for us. We can still win the OVC, but we need to win beginning with the Eastern Illinois game on Saturday.
EIU also has struggled against a tough schedule, but the Panthers have a great defense that held Missouri scoreless for nearly a half and they are getting better on offense.
Our offense was greatly improved in the game at Samford. We scored a season-high 31 points and rolled up a lot of yards. We moved Jamel Oliver from wide receiver to running back and he responded with 98 yards rushing. Anthony Gilliam shows he is shaking off the rust from not having played the last two years. He had over 100 yards receiving at Samford and made key catches.
Jack Tomco had his best game of the season, and when he got an elbow bumped late in the game, Andrew Goodenough came in and played with poise and confidence.
Confidence is a key factor the rest of the season. When you are 0-5, the coaches and players have to dig deep to find that inner confidence that can get us in the win column. At 1-3, Eastern Illinois is looking for the same thing.
I thought Samford, with a 2-1 record entering our game, played with great confidence after beating a couple of weaker teams and playing well at San Diego State. Despite our record we have to find the confidence to play together as a team like we did for the final quarter and a half at Samford.
I know everybody is disappointed with our record after we all looked at the season with such great promise. Everyone is concerned, but the team is working hard to become a better football team. I hope you will hang with us and come out and enjoy a great homecoming on Saturday. The kickoff is at 11:30 a.m. Enjoy the parade down Broadway and then just come in and help us beat Eastern Illinois.
A big and enthusiastic home crowd could be the difference.
Tim Billings is the head football coach at Southeast Missouri State University.