Bison coach Entz: Players are hearing me, but not sure they're listening
North Dakota State head coach says there is plenty to work on for everybody following the blowout loss at Southern Illinois
FARGO — Perhaps the road back from the first loss in 39 games started when the North Dakota State players returned to the visiting locker room late Saturday afternoon at Southern Illinois. There was no messing around.
Head strength and conditioning coach Jim Kramer, who's been at NDSU since 2004, told head coach Matt Entz that was the quickest he’s seen a Bison team get on a bus. The spillover from the 38-14 defeat at Saluki Stadium carried over to Sunday, where several players went into Entz’s office on their own volition to talk about what happened.
Entz on Monday talked about the weekly staff meeting with the other coaches on Sunday being the most uncomfortable since he’s been at NDSU, which is 2014. He talked about the Bison offense needing to communicate better, especially on the offense line, to jump-start a group that is averaging 18.5 points in the two Missouri Valley Football Conference games.
Of the five touchdowns, one was a “Hail Mary” pass and the other late in the SIU game after a 63-yard run against backup players. Consistency, so prevalent in the Bison offense over the last decade, has been missing.
At his weekly press conference on Monday, Entz didn’t mince words. He talked about the junior class needing to step up their leadership earlier than planned, mainly because the Bison have just nine seniors.
He talked about his team having a lack of discipline. He talked about players having egos and being complacent. He thought his team looked unprepared at SIU.
“The kids are hearing me, I don’t know if they’re listening to me enough right now,” Entz said.
And the head coach talked about pointing the finger at himself.
“Saturday was one of those days as a head coach you don’t want to see it,” he said. “What I saw in real life was what we saw on film and I’m not going to make any excuses about it. It’s my job to make sure we’re prepared each week in all three phases — offense, defense, special teams — and we need to be more competitive."
“My concern right now is that everything we’ve been worried about as a program leading up to this moment — egos, complacency, being comfortable or the mentality that I got it — probably set in and caught up to us a little bit. I need to do a better job of making sure I eliminate that. I will do a better job of making sure I eliminate that. I think this was a great wakeup call for our football team.”
It remains to be seen if the wakeup call translates into a better performance on Saturday when the Bison hit the road again. They’ll face Missouri State at 2 p.m. at a facility, Plaster Stadium, that has been tough on NDSU over the years.
There were not many changes in the depth chart on Monday, although Entz hinted that could change throughout the week.
“I think there could be some adjustment within the depth chart,” he said, “trying to identify where we can put people where they can be successful.”
James Madison on Monday took over the top spot in the Stats Perform top 25 media poll, ending NDSU’s 32 straight weeks at No. 1. The Bison were voted No. 1 in the final poll of 2017 after defeating previously top-ranked JMU in the FCS national title game in Frisco, Texas.
It’s the lowest the Bison have been ranked since 2015, when they were also sixth in an early November poll.
Entz said fullback Hunter Luepke and safety Dawson Weber continue to be week-to-week decisions to play because of injuries. Both didn’t suit up last week but were listed as starters on Monday.