DeKALB – Learn from it, use it, move on.
At his weekly news conference Tuesday after a 33-6 road loss to Iowa and ahead of the home opener against Utah, Northern Illinois University coach Rod Carey used that phrase on more than one occasion.
“Certainly we squandered our opportunities in the first two and a half quarters,” Carey said. “Learn from it, use it, correct it, move on from it. That’s what we’re well into now.”
The Huskies trailed 3-0 with about 8 minutes remaining in the third. They missed two field goal plus had a red zone interception in the first half.
But the offense stalled, managing only 132 yards over the final three quarters – and 75 of those yards came on the final drive of the game against Iowa backups.
After the interception – quarterback Marcus Childers was looking for Cole Tucker, but underthrew the pass and it was picked by Armani Hooker at the 7-yard line – Childers had what Carey characterized as “an outburst” on the sidelines.
Carey said the two had a constructive conversation.
“He was really frustrated, and put my arm around him and said, ‘All right, it’s done now let’s talk about it real quick so we can learn from it,’” Carey said. “He goes, ‘A little better throw coach, and that’s 6.’ And I said, ‘Yes, that’s where it starts, but let’s think about the decisions before that. We’re down in there tight and you feel good about that field goal to tie it up 3-3. So there’s no reason to attempt that throw. Now that we’ve talked about it, learn from it, use it and move on.’”
Carey said he feels as if Childers learned from the sequence – he did have another turnover in the game with a fumble, but it came on a blindside sack.
“I doubt it’s the last time Marcus is in that situation,” Carey said. “We have to prepare him for next time. I thought he responded well. Marcus didn’t play well, and I’m sure he’d say that. ... Certainly when you’re not performing the way you want to perform, that’s frustrating. But you have to get to the reasons why. That’s what we’ve done, and I think our guys are going to attack it this week.”
Carey said it was a similar situation with kicker Andrew Gantz, a high-profile transfer from Cincinnati who missed two first-half field goals.
“I know he’s upset,” Carey said. “I didn’t have to say much to him. I just went to him in the third quarter and he said to me, ‘Coach, if you put me in the position, I’m going to win this.’ And I told him, ‘I know you will.’ He was aggravated, he was irritated, but I still have a lot of confidence him in. Now, me having confidence in him and him executing are two different things. So he’s got to out and execute.”
He said that was the message to the whole team, that execution needs to improve. And the key to execution comes from practice.
“Our preparation has to get better,” Carey said. “We played two and half quarters of good football and a quarter and a half of awful football. We need to prepare harder to play four quarters of good football.”