In its second season of football, Kennesaw State went 8-3 and 3-2 in the Big South, improving from its 6-5 record of 2015. The Owls were even ranked No. 22 in the nation in the FCS Coaches Poll going into the last game of the season against eventual co-conference champion and playoff team Charleston Southern.
KSU lost its season finale 28-7 and what was a very impressive season ended with serious disappointment. Coach Brian Bohannon talked about what he saw out of his team this year and how the Owls can learn from what they experienced in 2016.
Q: What is the main takeaway from this season?
A: The biggest thing is we’ve made a ton of improvement from year one to Year 2. And I think that’s what we’re really looking for, is how we can build on the things that we’ve done. And there’s no question — I told you guys part way through the season, we were a way better football team than we were a year ago. I thought some things we were trying to accomplish, be a little fresher throughout, trying to find ways to manage the season a little better and being able to compete — and at the end of the day we had a chance to win part of the championship in the last game and I think when you look at Year 2, I’m proud of the improvement we made. We had a lot of success and it’s definitely something we can build on going into next year.
Q: How do you make sure there isn’t a dropoff from this season going into year three?
A: We set out here to win a championship and we didn’t get it done. So I hope our kids are motivated as well, I know I am, I know our staff will be, to get to that point where we can do that. And I think we’re going to have to go and look at the games we won, look at the games we lost and see how we can really improve. Sometimes you have to be in the moment, you have to be in those games and sometimes you have to learn how to manage and handle those games in order to take that next step to go win those games. And I think a little bit of that is us right now, especially in the two conference games we lost. But I really don’t feel like we’re going to have a lot of complacency with our football team. We set out on a journey to compete for a championship and get in the playoffs and we have not achieved that yet, so I don’t see how there can be a whole lot of complacency right now.
Q: What is the importance of playing Charleston Southern with a share of the Big South championship on the line even though you didn’t win?
A: It was one of those moments, the first time we had really one of those real moments since we’ve been here, where you’re actually playing for a championship. And we didn’t seize the moment, we didn’t play particularly well. For whatever reason, it really doesn’t matter, we didn’t. But I think there again, for us to be a championship team, you have to go through that. You have to get in that moment, and learn how to manage that moment, so that the next time that moment comes around, we can attack it a little bit better, be a little more prepared for it so we can execute a little bit better. So I think it was huge to even be in that game first of all, for our program. We wanted to win, we didn’t. We didn’t play good enough to win, but I think we can learn a lot from that moving forward going into next year and be able to build off of that. It was a tough loss, but when you go back and watch that, we didn’t play very good. You can call it what you want, we didn’t seize the moment, whatever you want to call it. But I do think this is part of the process. I think it’s part of a young football team getting to where they want to be, and I think we got to learn how to do it.
This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.