COACH PETERSEN: Well, I’m honestly very disappointed in the first half. I’m disappointed in myself. Thought the guys practiced hard. I thought we had a good week here.
But the first half was obviously, on offense, still in practice mode. I think the thing I was so excited about our guys the last month of football was that they kind of figured out how to flip that switch, the mental focus and energy. For whatever reason, we didn’t have it the first half. You know, the second half they did. But it was too little, too late. I’m obviously very, very disappointed. Feel really bad for our seniors to have to go out this way. But we will learn from it. I won’t let this happen again. We’ll be better for it down the road.
Chris, can you expand on the start. What was the vibe in the first half? Any adjustments on the fly?
COACH PETERSEN: We were just getting our teeth kicked in on offense from the very start. There’s no real good plays when that’s happening. We had a couple things in the pass game that we didn’t hit, and run game was not going. You know, I think you put the tape on, you just see they were playing harder than us from the start, yeah.
You put Lindquist in there for the last play of the first half. Did you consider a change of quarterback at any point?
COACH PETERSEN: Yeah, I mean, you’re hoping that we get something going, get Cyler back into a rhythm because obviously he was far from it. He actually practiced well through our bowl preparations. We weren’t getting any first downs to stay on the field to get any sort of rhythm going. So you want to give him a little bit of a chance there. Then the second half we got some things going. You know, it was better. But the first half, there was zilch.
Chris, you talked yesterday about the effect that winning a bowl game can have on your off season. You’re facing the opposite of that. How do you combat that negative feeling?
COACH PETERSEN: Yeah, we’re going to have to use that as a chip on our shoulder, without question. We got a lot of work to do. The guys know that. You know, it will be a tough, hard process going through that. But we’re going to use it as a positive in terms of, like, how we need to play, what we need to do to be able to compete.
Chris, what was the mood in the locker room at half? What was the talk?
COACH PETERSEN: You know, I mean, the guys knew. They knew that they got more to them than we’re showing in that first half. There wasn’t a ton of talking. There was right before we got out to kind of set our jaw. You could tell that the guys were, you know, very disappointed in that first half. To their credit, kind of adjusted, came out with better energy and played harder.
Coach, did you think the defensive performance in the first half was better or worse than the second half?
COACH PETERSEN: I thought when we got those turnovers, you know, that’s got to spark us somehow, some way on offense. Could just get nothing done. We have kind of learned this team plays off each other. If we get something going on offense, our defense will play with more energy and more passion as well. We couldn’t get anything done. They came out ready to play. They had us on our heels. We didn’t tackle well enough. It was a very poor first half.
Jaydon, what was your sense of the energy or enthusiasm coming out of the game, just that first series?
JAYDON MICKENS: Well, that’s a part of football. Everything doesn’t go right when it comes to football. I just let the guys know that, you know, we still have a lot of football to play. Each time we punt the ball, we know our defense is going to go out there and play their hearts out. We just need to stay positive, stay playing hard. I appreciate every one of these guys to playing hard, I respect them for that. That’s why I love being on this football team and I wouldn’t change nothing for the world.
Andrew, what are the emotions for you wrapping up your career?
ANDREW HUDSON: I think overall it’s been a great season, a good experience. You know, if we would have come out ready, the outcome could have been different.
All in all, as far as the emotions, it’s kind of like, Dang, this sucks. But, I mean, there’s still a lot more to go in this program and this team. I’m just looking forward to seeing these guys come up. So, yeah, a little lost on emotions, though.
Chris, given how the energy was to start, is there anything you might have thought in hindsight you could have changed about the schedule?
COACH PETERSEN: Yeah, that’s a good question. I mean, that’s something we’re going to really look at and analyze. I think we’re going to look at everything. I think probably the most important thing I need to do is probably those last two days leading up to the game is to really, you know, somehow stress that energy, that focus, that toughness factor, how this game needs to start. These guys know, I’d be telling them this, it wouldn’t be something they don’t know, but it’s got to start with me. I have to bring that to the table so they can grasp that, start faster, get some things done. But we’ll look at everything.
What is the outlook going to look like at the quarterback position going into the spring?
COACH PETERSEN: I think Cyler did progress as the season went on. Took a lot of snaps, a lot of reps, learned a lot of things. But I think every position in this program, we’ve got to have competition. We got to get better there. Those guys got to either push him. We got to improve there, and I think we will.
Coach, James Castleman for them, did that surprise you, the plays he was involved in on offense, the big play at the end?
COACH PETERSEN: Yeah, he did a good job. We just got to defend formations and plays. Bowl games are always going to have a little bit of wrinkles, those type of things. We lost our eyes on that last play right there, our DB fell down. Was wide open.
Tell me what your emotions were like when you scored, what your thought process was getting back within a touchdown?
JAYDON MICKENS: My emotions basically trying to be professional about it. It was a lot of football to play. A minute left, however many seconds left. I knew we were still in this football game. I knew each guy out there was going to play their heart out. Scoring touchdowns, that just comes and goes. But I knew something special was brewing. After that missed kick, it was obviously an opportunity leading up to we could have won this game, seeing how bowl games have been going on these past couple months. I looked at it positively. We just couldn’t pull it out.
Chris, you forced those two turnovers early against a quarterback who is in his ninth quarter of college football. What did you take from how he responded?
COACH PETERSEN: Yeah, I thought he played really well. Kind of saw that on tape, that it didn’t look like he only played a couple games. He threw some nice passes, gave his receivers a chance to make plays. I thought he was really good. He did a great job of max protection play action. Our guys were there a couple times and still didn’t make the play. But, you know, those plays are going to happen. They got some talented guys. I kind of still keep going back to that first half on offense, had we been able to do something there, it would have been a much closer game.