Griedl: Defense showed confidence

On Saturday morning, the Marshall News Messenger caught up with Marshall athletic director and head football coach Jake Griedl about his Mavericks’ 47-15 win over the Hallsville Bobcats.

MNM: What was your reaction when you saw Hallsville wearing red shirts with Hayden Blalock’s name and No. 94?

JG: Every time before our game, I walk around the field and pray over the field. I was walking on our sideline and going toward the facility and I saw them get off the bus and they were all wearing that. It gave me chills. It was really cool. I texted Craig Blalock, Hayden’s dad to let him know and it was just another class act. When something like that happens, everyone is hot and heavy to support early on but then life goes on but there’s still this family that’s torn apart. So to see consistency of support within this district that people have given us is really cool.

MNM: Football wise, what was the biggest improvement you saw from last week to this week?

JG: I think our defense played with confidence. I think they stopped second guessing themselves and they just went out there and played football the way they know how to play football. For three quarters and eight minutes of the fourth quarter, we played really, really well, then we made some foolish mistakes with about four minutes left in the game that spotted them about 15 points, so we’ve got to clean that up but I’m really proud of how our team has played. They didn’t let the emotions get the best of them again. They played clean football. They let their pads do the talking, not necessarily their mouths. They let the scoreboard do the talking. They let their play do the talking, which goes back to our theme of the year – actions over words, and we’re starting to see our kids play with actions instead of words. That’s just one of our little program things this year that we’ve been trying to get our kids to understand and it’s starting to happen and we’re really happy to see that.

I think on offense, it’s our entire offensive line. We had another night where we had just under 400 yards rushing with 370, so that’s about 900 yards rushing the next two weeks, so they’ve done an outstanding job the last two weeks of gelling and finding their groove. Then on defense, I think the entire d-line played really well, kept consistent pressure on their quarterback and played their gaps and really stuffed the run. I think going into the fourth quarter, they only had about 67 yards of offense. We’re really proud of how our defense played.

MNM: Have you spoken with your kids any more about the district win streak that goes back to 2016?

JG: I haven’t. I don’t know if I should or not. I think it’s one of those things where you don’t want to make any game more important than the next. That’s where the consistency comes in. Every game, there’s somebody lining up against us and whether they’re the No. 1 team in the state or the 150th ranked team in the state, they deserve our best. So I don’t necessarily want to hype games up to make our kids feel like certain games are more important because they’re all important, especially right now when we’re installing a new system on defense, with everything that’s going on this year and having a new system on offense. So right now, everything is about us, finding our consistency, finding our groove, finding our confidence and continuing to grow in that, not necessarily worry about a streak. I think it’s awesome. I think it’s great but hopefully it’s something that at the end of the year, we turn back and reflect on.

MNM: How much confidence has the two-game winning streak sparked with this team?

JG: I think they’re starting to realize their potential. In no way are we where we need to be but we’re getting there. We’re having the right people make the plays that we need to make and we’re having the right people step up and handle their business the right way so it’s exciting to see.

MNM: How healthy did you come out of this one?

JG: We’re healthy. A few guys have little bumps and bruises but right now they’re in the training room getting rehab before we get our postgame workout here in about 45 minutes, no serious injuries, just a couple knick knacks.

MNM: You’ve got Mount Pleasant next. What’s the key to getting a win against them?

JG: You know, coach (Ritchie) Pinckard does a great job over there. They’ve got a young team this year, from everything I understand. I haven’t watched film on them yet. We’re wrapping up this one but from everything I hear, they are playing with a new level of intensity, which is to be expected. I think this is his second or third year, so this about the time where the consistency of his program starts kicking in. I just think it’s a much better Mount Pleasant team than we played last year and I expect them to play their tails off and in no way is it going to be a give-me. We need to go through our responsibilities and do our jobs to get the job done.