Kennesaw State is in a position it has not been in often this season: trying to bounce back from a loss.
The Owls (4-2, 0-1 Big South) are looking to recover from a defeat for the first time since the second game of the year, when they knocked off Point (1-5, 1-2 Sun Conference) 49-3 following a season-opening loss to East Tennessee State (2-4, 1-4 Southern Conference). For a young program getting back on track after a loss is no easy task, but coach Brian Bohannon said last week’s 36-21 game against Liberty (3-3, 1-0 Big South) might play a bigger role in helping the team’s growth than some of the victories have.
“We’re still learning that all the little things, when you play really good people, they get magnified,” Bohannon said. “You can go play teams of lesser talent and get away with it, but those little mistakes, fundamental, whatever it might be, become really critical in big games. And we’re still not there yet where we can master that in a game, we still got to work on it.”
During the four-game winning streak, Bohannon stressed that the team had been yet to execute at a high level in all three phases of the game, and against the Flames a mixture of special teams blunders, offensive miscues and defensive breakdowns led to the Owls’ demise.
KSU hits the road Saturday for a matchup with Gardner-Webb (3-4, 1-0) with hopes of getting back in the win column. The Owls will be playing without wide receiver Justin Sumpter for the third week in a row as he continues to recover from the abductor injury that sidelined him against Liberty.
Bohannon said he is getting the team ready with the expectation of another really difficult contest ahead. After seeing how the Flames came out against them, combined with their hot start to the season, Bohannon said he expects opponents to give the Owls everything they can handle.
“We’ve played 17, 18 games, (Liberty) won like six conference championships, and they showed up to play,” Bohannon said. “In our short time, in a positive way, I think we have garnered people’s attention enough for them to show up ready to play, and I do think that’s a positive. And as I told our guys (Monday), with that bit of respect, comes a lot of responsibility.”
Although gaining respect is great for the team, the players said they are concerned about getting back on the field and getting the taste of last week’s loss out of their mouths.
But guys are not forgetting the Liberty game entirely. Quarterback Chandler Burks said despite losing, there were some positives the Owls can take away from the game and make sure to keep in mind as the season progresses.
“We left a lot of plays out there on the field, and it’s very minimal execution, that if we play just a little bit better, there (could have been) a different outcome on Saturday,” Burks said.
Still, guys said they will not let the loss linger as they go into the next game.
Running back Darnell Holland said he is ready to get back on the field and correct his mistakes from the week before and show the Big South just what KSU can do.
“Coach Bohannon explained it best, ‘Good teams don’t lose two games in a row,’” Holland said.