The Leos exposed some glaring weaknesses, and now GM/head coach John Hufnagel has an extra week to plug the holes and come up with some answers.
“Win or lose, you’re going to focus on the problems you believe are there,” Hufnagel said.
“I always make it a point of emphasis with the players that it’s important winning the game before the bye week, so you can feel good about it.
“Then the atmosphere is good and the confidence level is high.
“I don’t perceive it being that way Friday when we re-convene. So we’ll have to work on building that confidence.”
The confidence-level undoubtedly took a beating on the weekend.
Hufnagel said his ‘week off’ — which, for a coach, amounts to a couple of hours here and there — wouldn’t have changed regardless of Saturday’s outcome.
“Whether you win or lose that game, you’re going to be preaching the same sermon: We have to get better each and every week,” he said.
“I’ll be focusing on perceived problems, but that doesn’t change.
“That’s the nice thing about the bye week. You can catch your breath and concentrate on some things that you probably wouldn’t have time for during a normal week in the season.”
And it gives him time to look at a few offensive linemen.
Left guard Steve Myddelton was unable to suit up Saturday and then import right tackle Na’Shan Goddard went down against the Lions. Both have knee injuries and are looking at a lengthy recovery.
“I’m losing ’em,” Hufnagel joked, although not in the ha-ha sense.
“In a matter of three days, we lost two good football players.”
New personnel had a lot to do with the running game grounding to a halt as Jon Cornish had minus-1 yard on six carries.
“We had new people in there,” Hufnagel said. “The left guard was new. Then Na’Shan goes down. Now we have our left guard playing right tackle, and we have Mark Dewit playing at left guard.
“There’s always some adjustments when those types of things happen. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get a yard on 2nd-and-2. And that’s what I’m truthfully disturbed about.”
Hufnagel wasn’t trying to send a public message to his hoggies. He’s simply calling it as he sees it.
“The offensive line — I’m not calling them out whatsoever,” he said.
“They know me and how I conduct my meetings and what I say to them in person. They didn’t play very well.
“It’s a two-edged sword. They didn’t play well on the physical side of it, and they made too many mental mistakes.
“When you compound those two issues, we’re going to have a game like we had.”
The Red & White have the second-worst rushing total through five games.
But Hufnagel only has to look back as far as last year to see there’s still hope.
“Last year, we got off to a slow start running the football,” Hufnagel said.
“Not to the degree of what occured the other night. But we didn’t start running the ball effectively until after the break. I’m keeping my fingers crossed the same pattern will occur this year, because we have to get better.”