TOLEDO, Ohio – When Sean Progar gets near the ball, things happen.
The Northern Illinois redshirt freshman defensive end proved that on Saturday during NIU’s 20-19 loss to Toledo, forcing a fumble. Progar now has two fumble recoveries, a forced fumble, one pass breakup and a pass defended this season.
After Saturday’s loss, the Daily Chronicle’s John Sahly caught up with Progar to talk about the game. The following is an edited transcript.
Talking to some of the guys coming out of the locker room, it just seems like everyone is searching for an answer as to why it ended up this way. Is that how you feel?
Basically. We came out soft. That’s the only thing I can say. As a defense, and myself included, we thought we were ready for the game but we came out slow. They hit us in the mouth and we got down early.
Is there something you can point to as to why it went that way?
Not really. We had a good two weeks of practice. We had good preparation. Everyone was quiet before the game just like normal. Everyone seemed like they were ready. I don’t know what happened.
Did [Toledo quarterback Austin] Dantin do what you expected him to do?
We weren’t sure who was playing but it really wasn’t on him. We didn’t get pressure and we needed to stop the run early and we didn’t do that. If they can run the ball on us then the pass opens up and we just got down early.
How were they able to run the ball like they did?
I’m not sure. I’m going to have to look at the film and find out. On the defense, we’re obviously upset with the way we played. We feel like we’re the best defense in the MAC and we can’t let teams do that to us.
If I had told you before the game that you would only give up 20 points to an offense that averages 30-plus, you have to feel good about that, don’t you?
Yeah but we know how much better we could have played. We’ve got to watch the film and we’ll see the mistakes.
You’re kind of new to this but what is it about the Glass Bowl that NIU just can’t seem to get a win?
I don’t know. This is my first time being here. I really have no explanation right now. We seemed ready. We had good practices the whole two weeks we had off and we just didn’t come out to play right off the bat and we had to fight back in the second half and we can’t do that all the time.
Turnovers were a positive. You guys forced four fumbles and you forced one.
We figured that would happen with a freshman quarterback. He tried to run a lot and he was holding the ball out, same with the running backs. One of our emphasis’s was to strip the ball so I guess we did pretty good on that. But there were a couple where we could have gotten the ball back. We stripped it.
Bottom line, was this a missed opportunity to make a statement in the MAC?
Yeah, basically. Our coaches told us before the game that it would be huge for us to win, but if we lose it’s not the end of the world. We’re still 1-1 (in the MAC). We still have all of our goals ahead of us. We can still win the MAC and go to a bowl game. We’ve just got to work next week and go to Miami (Ohio).