A young team gains valuable experience

Wednesday, October 24, 2001

What a great crowd for homecoming on a great football afternoon at Houck Stadium this past Saturday. Our great home crowds and their enthusiasm have been one of the high points of this season. Thanks to everyone who was in attendance.

Unfortunately, we didn't get you a win and that is very disappointing to me. For the first time this season, I was really disappointed with the way our team played in the third quarter and early in the fourth quarter. We played all right in the first half and had a 21-14 lead. For some unknown reason, we came out very flat in the third quarter and let Murray State take control of the game.

We finally rallied in the fourth quarter, but it was too little, too late as the Racers wound up winning 45-35. I was really down after the game, but the sun came up Sunday and after watching the tapes of the game, I realized that we are just a very young football team that makes young mistakes.

I am not a patient person, but I have to remember how young this football team is. We are playing freshmen that, in a program like we want to have at Southeast, would be redshirted. But the reality is that where we are in building the program, the young and talented players have to play this season.

Although painful at times this season, it will be great next season when all of our freshmen have gained so much vital game experience. Players like Caleb Daniel, O.J. Turner, Ray Goodson, Taurean Robinson, Chris Brawley, Mike Miller, Chaun Tate, Dan Bieg, Dan Connolly, Brett Swann and Dimitri Patterson are all true freshmen who are playing a lot of snaps. Our kickers, Derek Kutz and Brian Emmendorfer, are both true freshmen.

They are all excellent athletes who are gaining invaluable experience.

As disappointed as I was, I still saw positive signs in the Murray State game. We are an improved football team that is continuing to get better. We have to get to a point where we win some tight OVC games. Our young players need to see a reward for all of the hard work they are putting in.

We have three games remaining and we have to take them one game at a time. It is important for our program to win. This Saturday we are at Tennessee Tech and it is encouraging to know that we have played well on the road this season. Our players just go out and play hard regardless of where they are playing. We will need to play hard and eliminate mental mistakes in order to beat Tech.

Victories in our final two OVC games and our season finale against Quincy would mean a lot to our program. It would help us psychologically and it would help our recruiting. We're headed in the right direction, but we need a jump start for next season that only wins can provide.

As I indicated earlier, our fans have been great. I appreciate the fact that a lot of fans have talked to me or called me since Saturday's game. I believe the fans have more patience than I do.

I said before the season that we would be a much better football team, but that I really didn't know how that would affect our record. Well, our record isn't better right now, but we have three games left. A win in all three would give us a winning season. We're building for next year, but we are far from done this season!

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

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: