Monday November 21, 2011 press conference

November 22, 2011 · By · Filed Under Football 

Captains Jon Griffin, Paul Bennett, Anton Graphenreed and Kevin Helms at mid-field for the pre-game coin toss.

Head coach Joey Jones along with senior cornerback Anton Graphenreed spoke to the media on Monday to reflect on Saturday’s loss to Cal Poly as well as the entire 2011 season.

Coach Jones said that he had mixed emotions about the season in his opening statement: “Looking back at the season, there are mixed emotions about it. We did some good things, and we probably could have done some things better. Obviously that last game didn’t end up on a good note. That’s the first time since I have been here that we got whipped up like that. They (Cal Poly) are a very good football team and we knew it. When you look at the season ahead of time – the N.C. State, Kent State and Cal Poly games – you knew they would be tough games to win. But I thought it was a good season. Our seniors have done a good job of leading this team, and I am proud of those guys.”

“We do have some work to do in the offseason. I told the kids this morning that we have great challenges ahead of us – 13 ballgames and 12 of them are Division-I programs. Obviously that’s where we want to go, and we knew where we were going and that it is going to be a challenge. I think somehow and some way this last game reminds me of what we need to do to get back to where we were fundamentally, and that means getting after it and being extremely tough – tough mentally and physically. That starts in the offseason, and we’re going to get that done.”

“I think when you win a lot of ballgames sometimes you soften up a little bit. I don’t think we got soft, but I do think there was a point where we didn’t cross every T and dot every I like we were two years ago. So we have to fight through that, especially with what we have coming up the next couple of years. We’re going to find some leaders and some discipline in our program. We obviously had too many turnovers this year, and we can’t win ballgames with that. Things like that are where we have to be a more disciplined football team, and we’re going to start working on that next Monday.”

When asked about the most important thing to focus on now that the season is over, Coach Jones said: “We want to focus on discipline. For the most part, it was a year where we didn’t play well but it was because of our mistakes and discipline. We have to correct that. The second thing is I think we have to develop more leadership as we go. We have freshmen, sophomores and juniors who are going to move up a class, and they have to learn to lead. We’re going to develop leadership in the offseason by the way we handle our workouts and by the way we approach everything. Those two areas are probably the biggest things we are going to focus on. We’ll obviously look at X’s and O’s as a staff, but I’m more concerned about the other two.”

Coach Jones answered a follow up question about developing leadership. “Most people say leaders are born, that they don’t develop that much in their lifetime. I disagree with that somewhat. We’re going to put the expectation on them now that they have to lead for next year. I told them this morning that we have until next August to develop leadership and discipline. If we can do that and we can put that expectation on them, then we will have some guys rise up. I also think we have to put them in situations where they can lead. In the offseason, that’s all you have. But the way we develop those guys is in offseason workouts, and that’s going to be a real critical time for us. One thing we’re going to do different is when we (coaching staff) get back off the road, the coaches are going to get back in that weight room. We’re going to be in there and motivate those guys. (Strength and conditioning head) Coach (Justin) Schwind is doing a great job already, but I think our staff needs to be in there as well, and that’s one thing I’m going to change.”

Anton Graphenreed’s opening statement: “The season didn’t really go as planned, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that this is a great program. I enjoy being around my teammates and coaches. There were a lot of mental errors, and those are things that can be fixed. The team is young and has a lot of growing to do, and I think they will do that.”

“There are a lot of people who have stepped up tremendously, and all they are going to do is keep getting better. Like I said, the season didn’t go as planned but we learned from it. And I think that will help going into next year. It will let them (the team) know that there are more things that need to be worked on, even when everyone else is resting. That’s just a personal commitment that each and every one of these players need to make and live by it. I believe they will do it, and next year will be a lot better. It’s going to be a lot tougher, but my teammates will rise to the challenge. I trust and believe in that.”

Finally Graphenreed spoke about what is next for him now that his collegiate football career is over. “I really don’t know what God has in store for me. I’m just going to keep training and working hard, and graduate. Whatever opportunity arises, I will jump on it. But for right now, I have to prepare myself for any opportunity. I’m not going to just sit around and wait on anything.”

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