By David Fong
TROY — Fresh off a lackluster performance in a 27-14 loss to Greenville last Friday, Matt Burgbacher wasn’t sure what to expect when his team returned to practice earlier this week.
“Monday’s practice was easily the best practice we’ve had all year,” the Troy football coach said. “The kids paid attention to detail and were focused.”
Which is a far cry from what happened in the loss to Greenville, when the Trojans squandered a 14-13 first half lead by failing to score any second half points for the first time all season.
“I thought that was our first loss where we flat out didn’t play well in any of the three facets of the game,” Burgbacher said. “Offense, defense, special teams — we had moments where we would do some things well, but it wasn’t a real consistent effort. All three of those facets need to be clicking.
“Mentally, our kids just didn’t seem ready to play — and as head coach, I take full responsibility for that. It’s my job to have the kids prepared and ready to play at 7 p.m. on Friday nights. It’s my job to get the kids mentally focused on the task at hand, and I didn’t do a good enough job of that.”
Even at 1-5 (0-1 in the Greater Western Ohio Conference North Division), Burgbacher still feels like his team has plenty to play for the remaining four games of the season.
“I know our kids are frustrated and disappointed, but I think that’s because they know we are better than a 1-5 football team,” he said. “There are a lot of ways to measure things — and we know we are a much better football team than when we started the season. Unfortunately, I know a lot of people will only see 1-5 and think we must be terrible.
“Unfortunately, the reality is it still comes down to wins and losses. But the kids haven’t given up. I think our seniors are getting to that point in the season where they realize they only have four more games left in their entire careers. And we talked to our underclassmen who may think they still have one or two more years after this — you never know what life may throw at you. It could all be taken away from you at any moment.”
Despite being in the midst of a five-game losing streak — the Trojans haven’t won since defeating Chaminade Julienne 42-31 in the season opener — Burgbacher said wholesale changes aren’t in order for his team.
“When I watched the film from the Greenville game, I made a list of all the mental mistakes we made,” he said. “In 160 plays, we understand there are going to be physical mistakes. It’s the mental mistakes — the ones made by both the players and the coaches — that we need to fix.
“It’s still a matter of fixing the little things and letting the bigger things take care of themselves. We need to pay more attention to detail and make sure we are fixing those little things. It’s not any one or two or three kids — there’s no finger-pointing going on. The kids still believe in what we are doing — we just need to take re-focus and make the necessary adjustments.
Contact David Fong at email@example.com; follow him on Twitter @thefong