When you walk off the field as a head coach after losing a game like we did to Yale on Saturday, it’s hard to feel good about anything. We all took the loss exceptionally hard on Saturday – we hate to lose, especially when you feel you did not play your best as a team.
Two small steps forward, one giant step back.
A number of breakdowns on both sides of the football led to Yale’s dominance of the football game. The Bulldogs were a team riding high after its first two wins, and they took advantage of every mistake we made and capitalized on them on the scoreboard. We couldn’t find the formula to get anything clicking. But as crazy as this sounds, there were two moments in particular that illustrated why we’re going to get where we want to as a program.
First, our defense forced a turnover and we were there to pounce on the ball and take it back for a touchdown. This is great to see! Taking the football away and protecting the football have to become hallmarks of what we do. To be able to pick the ball up and score was a huge boost to our defense. It shows us that on any given play we can take momentum in the game.
Second, with under two minutes to play, in a game we had no chance to win anymore, we called a timeout facing a fourth-and-four. With our final chance for the offense to get on the board, we tried to get them to play as though the score was tied. Quarterback James Few dropped back and found running back Luke Hagy, who had slipped out of the backfield, wide open for a touchdown. It was an otherwise meaningless late game score, but continued what we’ve been preaching – to play until the final whistle. They executed the plan exactly as we drew it up, and the offense sprinted to Hagy after the score.
I told the team in the locker room that, “you are only ever really defeated, in football and in life, if you get knocked down and you do not get back up.”
I waited until after Tuesday’s practice to send this message because Tuesday’s practice was our first chance to get back up. I wanted to see how the team responded. It was one of our best practices of the year to date.
There is no bye week on our schedule, in fact we travel to Harvard this weekend to face an undefeated Crimson team. They are a program that is at the other end of the spectrum than we are. They have taken time to build a winning program with a consistent approach with the same head coach for 20 years. After coaching our team in practice today I can tell you that we are excited to travel to Boston and play this weekend. It will be a gorgeous Saturday to play against a good opponent and lay it all on the line. The game is on Fox College Sports, and I hope that if you can’t make it to Boston, you can tune in from your home.
It was great seeing so many of you in the Crescent on Saturday, and I appreciate the continued support of the Big Red. After so many years of changing philosophies and voices, we’ll continue to develop the process we’ve put in place, but largely remain committed to moving forward together – on the field, in the classroom, in recruiting, by building our fan base…Go Big Red!
David J. Archer 05′
The Roger J. Weiss ’61
Head Coach of Football