HUNTSVILLE — The Huntsville Item’s Gene Schallenberg talked with Sam Houston State head coach Willie Fritz about today’s highly anticipated game against second-ranked Eastern Washington.
Item: You’ve said multiple times how you’ve got to take it one week at a time. What’s it like that now you’ve finally arrived at this Eastern Washington week?
Fritz: The last couple of weeks, I’ve been doing everything I can to get our guys geared up and ready to go. Unfortunately, I think in the back of their minds they’re ready for this game. That’s one thing about games like this. You don’t have to do a whole lot of motivating. If you can’t get up for a game like this, you probably don’t have a pulse. I think our guys are raring and ready to go. I think we’re going to have a fantastic crowd. I look forward to it.
Item: When the series was made final in the summer of 2012, Eastern Washington was coming off of a 6-5 campaign and missed the playoffs after winning the national championship. Knowing what they did last season, what was your impression of the Eagles when the home-and-home series was penned?
Fritz: We know they’re a very strong ballclub. I was actually on the sideline when Eastern Washington beat Delaware for the (2010) national championship. I was very impressed with their sideline demeanor and the size of their team. They have very good skill kids. I knew they were going to be a very strong team that we’d be playing. I wasn’t thinking they were down in any way, shape or form.
Item: What was your approach to this week, which is getting a lot of attention because of the rematch from last year’s semifinals and the fact that both teams are ranked in the top five of the FCS, and what have you said to your team about this week’s game?
Fritz: After the (Incarnate Word) ballgame, I told them that we really have to do a great job of preparation and spend more time. Some of the guys started believing me. I said that I was just kidding and that we’ve got to do the exact same thing we do every week. I’m not going to change my approach this week, coaches shouldn’t change their approach and players shouldn’t change their approach.
You’ve got to have that same preparation each and every week. You only have 12 opportunities that you’re guaranteed and you need to make the very best out of those 12 games. The kids are probably going to put in a little more preparation into, but I wish they wouldn’t. I wish they’d do the same every week. When you’re playing a high-quality opponent like this, you don’t have to hype the game. The game hypes itself.