The Chris Hatcher Show: Sept. 16, 2021

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Each week during the 2021 season, we will release The Chris Hatcher Show. The show, hosted by Kevin Blackwell and featuring head football coach Chris Hatcher, will look back at the previous week’s football game and look forward to the upcoming contest.
 
The Bulldogs are coming off a tough, 33-27, non-conference loss at UT Martin last Saturday. Hatcher said a lack of focus contributed to the loss.
 
“We really didn’t have a good week of practice last week, we were not focused, and it showed in the course of the ballgame at UT Martin,” Hatcher said. “We let a lot of external factors bother us. We didn’t focus on what we needed to do. Offensively, we got whooped at the line of scrimmage, and it’s hard to do anything when you’re having trouble protecting and running the football.”
 
Hatcher said he liked the effort of his team, but the execution was what was lacking in the contest.
 
“Our guys played hard, and we didn’t quit,” Hatcher said. “We had a chance to win, even with all the mistakes we made, there at the end of the game and couldn’t get it done. So, I’m proud of them for the effort, but we have to play hard, we have to play with great focus, but we have to execute, and we lacked execution in that ballgame.”
 
Samford forced five turnovers in the game. Entering this week, the Bulldogs are tied for first in the Southern Conference with a +4-turnover margin.
 
“The first two games, we’ve forced a lot of turnovers,” Hatcher said. “Defensively, we’re flying around. I think we’ve done a great job of disguising some coverages and forcing the QB to make some errant throws. Offensively, game one we took care of the ball, but the other night we had two costly turnovers. Defensively, we’re doing a great job, and, for the most part, offensively we’re doing a great job of holding onto the ball as well.”
 
Three different Samford defensive backs had interceptions in the first half of the UT Martin game. Lamar Anderson, Hakeem Johnson and Ty Herring had an interception each. Samford jumped out to a 17-0 lead due to the turnovers.
 
“Any time you can make a big play on special teams and then score a touchdown on defense, you’re supposed to win the game,” Hatcher said. “Offensively, we had opportunities there. We jumped out to a 17-0 lead, but if you were at the game, it didn’t feel like that. I give great credit to UT Martin, they have tremendous athletes, their defensive line was unreal, one of the best that I hope we’ll face all season. Their quarterback was big and strong, and they had some really good running backs. We did jump out, but you could sense it was more of them not executing than us really playing well.”
 
Another player who had a strong game was linebacker Nathan East. He led the team with 13 tackles. For the season, he is tied for the SoCon lead with 21 tackles. Hatcher talked about how pleased he has been with East and the entire defense so far.
 
“East is a great player, there’s no question about it,” Hatcher said. “He has tremendous speed and is a smart player. But I’ll tell you, there are a lot of guys on that side of the ball that are playing tremendously well. In the first two games, we’ve played well enough defensively to win the ballgames. I’ve been really proud of Lamar Anderson. Two games in a row he’s been all over the field. We have some guys making plays, but we’re confident over there and Coach (Nick) Benedetto’s done a great job.”
 
This week, Samford will open Southern Conference play with a game at Western Carolina. Hatcher talked a little about the team’s mindset heading into the weekend.
 
“The end goal is to be in a position to win the championship at the end of the year,” Hatcher said. “But we just want to play good football for 60 game minutes, like we like to say, and we haven’t done that yet. We have to start focusing and being more intense for the entire football game.”
 
Hatcher also talked a little about what he expects to see from the Catamounts.
 
“Western Carolina is a totally different team than they were in the spring,” Hatcher said. “They have a brand-new coaching staff, all the way across the board. I’m very familiar with Kerwin Bell, he’s a former head coach at Valdosta State, he won a national championship there. Justin Hinds is the defensive coordinator, who used to be the defensive line coach here at Samford. Their defensive backs coach, Larry Murphy, played for me way back when. And then, their special teams coordinator (Kerry Webb) started as a volunteer coach for me at Valdosta State a long time ago.
 
“They’re going to be wide open,” Hatcher said. “They probably throw the ball more than we do. Defensively, they’re very sound in what they do. And then, you have to go on the road. They usually have one of the better atmospheres in our conference. It comes down to getting rid of the external factors and focusing on the task at hand. Hopefully after what happened last week, we’ll be able to do that a little better this week.”
 
Saturday’s game at Western Carolina is set to start at 1:30 p.m. (CT). The game can be seen live on ESPN+ at the following link: WATCH LIVE.
 
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For the latest news and information on Samford football, visit the official website for Samford Athletics at SamfordSports.com. Fans can also follow the Bulldogs on social media at /SamfordFootball (Facebook), @SamfordFootball (Instagram) and @SamfordFootball (Twitter).


 
 
 

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