As the Florida Tech Panthers prepared for their final home game of 2017, head coach Steve Englehart gave us his thoughts on what was a difficult loss to Valdosta State last Saturday.
“We did some good things in the first half but gave up a score there to end the half and in the second half, turnovers bit us,” he said. “Turnover on the kickoff return to start the half, get the ball back and we turn it right back over. It was a field position game and we didn’t take advantage of times we could’ve flipped the field.”
The Panthers offense showed that they could move the ball at times, but Englehart said every time they would get a big play they would stall. For an offense that averaged over 400 yards a game, that’s not something Englehart is used to seeing. On Saturday, they were held to 307.
“Overall, physically, they dominated us, especially in the trenches,” Englehart said. “They were just better. Stronger, bigger, more physical and ultimately just wore us down.”
Coach Englehart remarked that Valdosta is a tough place to play, as evidenced by his team not having won their yet in the couple trips they’ve made. “Hopefully we’ll do it a couple years from now, but they are a good football team and they were hungrier than us.”
With their playoff hopes now gone, Englehart now shifts his focus to winning the last two games and getting this team to finish with a 7-4 record. That task won’t be easy, as the Panthers will face a very good West Georgia team, who will come to Melbourne with a 7-2 record.
“They’re a good football team and they’ve gotten better every week,” he said. “They’ve got some really good football players and when you watch them on film you don’t see many weaknesses, if any weaknesses at all. They present us with a lot of challenges.”
The other challenge the Panthers face is injuries. They are banged up on the offensive line especially, and for a team that scored just 14 points last week, that is definitely a concern. “We’re only practicing with 11 offensive linemen right now,” Englehart said. “Our depth is bad at the O-line and D-line position and our guys are starting to get wore down a little bit.”
The one thing that Englehart stressed is that the goal is to win. Nobody’s giving up or giving in and that was very apparent on Thursday. Yes, they may be worn out and banged up, but the effort is there and these guys are working hard. Englehart admitted that it’s a bit of a rollercoaster at times, but with the depth issues they are facing, that is to be expected.
Saturday is homecoming and Senior Day. Get out to the stadium and support the team and the seniors, who will be on the Florida Tech Panther Stadium turf, for the final time.
Kickoff is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. If you are unable to make it, you can join Jerry Durney and Paul Van Scott on WFIT 89.5 FM, WFIT.org or the TuneIn Radio app. The pregame will be on the air at 12:30 p.m.