Bob Landsee rocked back in his chair, then leaned forward and pounded on the table in front of him, sending the assorted voice recorders popping into the air.
The veteran Arena League Football coach was beyond disappointed with the effort of his Milwaukee Mustangs on Friday night, a 69-48 loss to the Cleveland Gladiators at the Bradley Center that saw Cleveland outscore Milwaukee 27-6 in the final 10 minutes of the game.
"I'm so frickin' mad it's ridiculous," Landsee said. "You work your ass off to go down this path and get it right last week and then come right back to this thing again. If I could figure it out, put it in a bottle and sell it I'd be a wealthy man.
Landsee's disappointment was on display because the team couldn't capitalize off a thrilling, 64-63 last-second victory over the Philadelphia Soul on the road last week. That win snapped a three-game losing streak and got the team within a game of .500.
It also was the first time Milwaukee had won a close game, having lost three games by a total of 10 points.
"Sometimes you wonder where the focus is when you go through this stuff," Landsee said. "We played right into their hands, talking a lot of trash and fighting it versus letting them talk and showing them on the board."
How frustrated were the Mustangs?
Almost immediately after leaving the field, Landsee called kicker Joshua Smith into office. The kicker, who initially made the team out of training camp before being injured, was released.
"He couldn't hit a bull on the butt with a handful of sand and we had to make a decision" Landsee said.
The Mustangs had two kicks blocked that resulted in two Cleveland scores, and Smith didn't properly execute an onside kick that led to another easy Gladiators touchdown
"The special teams are such a groove thing," Smith said. "Once you get in a groove, things are good. But when something throws that out of whack, it's hard for everybody to come back together – the snap, the line, the kick, the hold, everything just hast to be fluid. We were fluid in the beginning and then we got out of our game and we never really picked it back up. I'm to blame for that for the majority of it because the majority of it has to be through me. When people let us down or when something goes wrong, I have to be able to pick up the pace and get it through. That's a momentum changer and didn't do that tonight, so I was released because of it."
One reason Landsee is so frustrated is because of the talent on the roster, and the fact that he sees a much sharper team in practice.
It's just not carrying over to the field.
"I don't understand...I really wish I could figure it out," Landsee said. "I don't know. I thought after we came back (to tie it at 42) we'd continue to roll on 'em. But for some reason we just went brain dead again."
The team is now 3-5 but is 3-1 in the American Conference's East Division. It has 10 games left on the schedule, five of which are at home (only three of its first eight were at the Bradley Center). The Mustangs play the co-leaders of the South Division the next two weeks, hosting the Georgia Force (5-4) on Friday and then traveling to Tampa Bay to play the Storm (5-4) on May 26.
It's the start of a tough stretch, as the West Division San Jose SabreCats come into town followed by the East Division-leading Soul.
Perhaps the sudden roster moves after the Cleveland loss, as well as the shock of a late blowout, straightens the team out as it heads into this crucial stretch of games.
"I hope so," Landsee said. "It's not rocket science. These guys have been playing this game from high school through college, through the NFL, some of them. You're looking at 10, 12 years minimum some of these guys. It's common sense. Don't turn the ball over, and you win a lot of your football games. Defensively you get them to turn the ball over a couple times and you win football games. We just didn't stay focused on what we came to do.
"It's the eighth game of the year in an 18-game season. It's a long way to go. And we will be prepared."
Jim Owczarski is an award-winning sports journalist and comes to Milwaukee by way of the Chicago Sun-Times Media Network.
A three-year Wisconsin resident who has considered Milwaukee a second home for the better part of seven years, he brings to the market experience covering nearly all major and college sports.
To this point in his career, he has been awarded six national Associated Press Sports Editors awards for investigative reporting, feature writing, breaking news and projects. He is also a four-time nominee for the prestigious Peter J. Lisagor Awards for Exemplary Journalism, presented by the Chicago Headline Club, and is a two-time winner for Best Sports Story. He has also won numerous other Illinois Press Association, Illinois Associated Press and Northern Illinois Newspaper Association awards.
Jim's career started in earnest as a North Central College (Naperville, Ill.) senior in 2002 when he received a Richter Fellowship to cover the Chicago White Sox in spring training. He was hired by the Naperville Sun in 2003 and moved on to the Aurora Beacon News in 2007 before joining OnMilwaukee.com.
In that time, he has covered the events, news and personalities that make up the PGA Tour, LPGA Tour, Major League Baseball, the National Football League, the National Hockey League, NCAA football, baseball and men's and women's basketball as well as boxing, mixed martial arts and various U.S. Olympic teams.
Golf aficionados who venture into Illinois have also read Jim in GOLF Chicago Magazine as well as the Chicago District Golfer and Illinois Golfer magazines.