Indians continue to show progress

Wednesday, September 19, 2001

We go on the road this week to play an excellent Illinois State team. The Redbirds are 0-2 but were ranked in the top 20 in all the preseason Division I-AA polls and they have that kind of talent.

Illinois State, which has lost to Division I-A Western Michigan and Murray State of our Ohio Valley Conference, has as good or better talent as any team we will face this season.

Our football team is continuing to improve and we are close to being 3-0, but the reality is that we are 1-2. I told our team we can't be thinking about what could have been in the two losses. We have to be concerned about what we have ahead.

We had an opportunity to close out wins over Eastern Michigan and Southwest Missouri State, but we didn't get the job done and came up just short. I've said all along that once this team grows up and somebody makes a big play to win us a game, then we can win a lot of football games this season.

Actually, I think our players are trying too hard to make those big plays in tight games. I've told them that instead of trying to make the big plays, they just have to believe in our system and do what they have been coached to do.

Our players have to have confidence in the system and in their teammates. They have to gain confidence in the other 10 players on the field at the time. The play will come and if everybody is doing their job, someone will be in position to make the play.

The key to success is in execution and the belief that the other players are doing the same thing.

I think our team is excited about going on the road to play a top team like Illinois State. It will be a chance for our young players and our coaches to see one of the top Division I-AA programs in the nation.

Illinois State has a new multi-million dollar Kaufman Football Building on the north end of Hancock Stadium. The state-of-the-art football building includes locker rooms, meeting rooms, training room and coaches offices. It is easy to see that Illinois State has made a major commitment to the football program. I look forward to touring the new facility Friday.

The game against Illinois State is against a top team and it will be a good way for us to get ready for our OVC schedule that begins Sept 29 at Tennessee State. We have played some good football teams on even terms this season. It would be great to get a big win before opening OVC play.

I would like to thank all the fans who attended Saturday night's game against Southwest Missouri. It was a very emotional night for all of us and I really appreciate your support. The enthusiasm of the crowd, and particularly the student crowd, was outstanding. I only wish we could have rewarded the fans with a victory. Even though our kids played extremely hard, we made too many mistakes and fell short 31-28.

Hopefully we can go on the road and get a couple of wins before we come back to Houck Stadium for the Family Weekend game with Tennessee-Martin Oct. 6.

Tim Billings is the head football coach at Southeast Missouri State University

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