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Football Press Conference Quotes

August 26, 2002 · MT Media Relations
COACH MAC'S OPENING COMMENTS
We've had a good fall camp and we've got a great challenge ahead of us. We've heard it from everybody and all around the country about our schedule and it starts this week.

I think any team or any program gets excited when the first game gets here after going against each other for so long and being in camp for so long. We have a lot of work to do ourselves. We have to have a great week of work.

We're going against a very physical football team on both sides of the ball, starting with their offensive and defensive fronts. At those spots they'll be as good as anyone in the country. We know that it's going to be a physical football game and we can't make mistakes if we're going to have a chance in this game. It goes back to what we talk about every day, trying to be as good as Middle Tennessee can be that day. We have to play with a great sense of urgency. We know we can't turn the ball over and we have to be a great tackling football team.

Alabama has a lot of great players. They have great running backs, a great quarterback, and their lines are considered to be among the best in the country. They have a lot of experience coming back in the secondary and linebackers that can run. We know what's ahead of us, but we are going to keep preparing to see how good we can be on that day. That's what we want to do.

Up to this point we're healthy. We have everybody back, so we have to start to narrow this thing down, go out and have a great week of work, and get ready to play one of the best teams in the country.

COACH MAC ON HEALTH OF HIS TEAM
Any time you come out of camp you're a little banged up, and we had a physical camp. We got a lot of live work against each other and a lot of 11-on-11 work done, but we felt like we had to because of the physical schedule we play, especially early on. But we've been smart about it, too. We know that, with our schedule and the people we play, we have to have our best players on the field. We have to have our playmakers make plays. We have to stay healthy this week, too, but we've still got some physical work left to do, so we will be doing that this week.

COACH MAC ON PREPARING FOR THE CROWD AT LEGION FIELD
It's hard. We'll have noise in the stadium. The good thing, I think, going into it is that anytime you play an SEC team on the road it's a tough environment and we know that. We have been in some very loud stadiums during our three years of building this program. LSU, Ole Miss, right on down to Arkansas, Mississippi State, and Florida. Our kids have been in some tough environments. Does that make it any easier? No. But we know it's going to be a tough environment and we're going to do some things this week to help us deal with that. Offensively and defensively, we do some things that don't rely on sound, so that should help us out this week.

COACH MAC ON SANTONIO BEARD
He's a very explosive back with great speed. He's a physical player. When you put him and [Ahmaad] Galloway back there together it's two really good running backs. The biggest thing for us is to execute what we do. Great backs are going to get yards and we know that. What we have to do is prevent big plays and be a great tackling team. That's where we're trying to grow every year. We're trying to get better at getting off blocks and making plays. Santonio Beard is a great player and we know that. We just have to be as good as we can be.

COACH MAC ON BEING PREPARED UP FRONT
We like to think that we're more prepared this year than we ever have been. We always like to think of things in the positive. Talent-wise, we feel like we're bigger, stronger, and faster than we have been, but you won't know that for sure until you get out there, and we're going to have to do it against one of the better teams in the country. We know that's how we have to play. I guess in the growing process of where we've been, everything comes down to depth. We have more depth than when we started, but we're still not where we need to be. We have to get to a point where, when number one goes down then number two is capable of coming in and making plays. That's been a big step for us. We have some experience on the offensive front, but nobody cares what you did yesterday. On defense, we have some guys who have been in a lot of games and we have some depth and some guys are stepping up. It all comes down to how we handle it in a game situation and some guys have got to give us some good snaps.

COACH MAC ON TYLER WATTS
When you watch film you notice that he is a great competitor and an athlete. He's a winner. All of the things that you talk about that you want to see in players, he brings all of them. We see the same things that a lot of other people say. Some people say that he can't throw it, but he can throw the football. He can do the things that good quarterbacks can do. As you watch him, you see that he's a team guy, and that's special when you have a guy that plays like him. He's a physical quarterback that runs well. They'll keep the ball in his hands and run him and he can throw. He does a good job with that. He's a quality player and he's a key for them. He's not afraid to make the big play.

COACH MAC ON ANDRICO HINES
Andrico has been here a year. He was brought here with the idea of letting him learn the scheme, traveling with us, going through the experience. He got a chance to learn from two guys who did a great job for us a year. He's gone through spring and he had a great summer. We have all of the confidence in the world in him and he has a lot of ability. He's just got to get out there and play. Andrico's job in our offense is to get the balls to the guys who can make plays. I'm excited to see him play. He's a leader. Our kids have a lot of respect for Andrico because of his work ethic and everything he's done to this point to get this opportunity. We're looking forward to getting him out there. I'm also excited about our other two. Josh Harris has had a great fall camp for a true freshman and Andre Green has grown up. Andrico will be the guy. He's just got to get out there, get some snaps, get hit a couple of times, and get settled down. We have all of the confidence in the world that he's going to be able to do that.

COACH MAC ON COPING WITH ALABAMA TRADITION
That's a tough question. I grew up watching Alabama, but when you get out there its 11-on-11. We just have to try to be as good as Middle Tennessee can be that day. Our team is playing the Alabama team of this year, not from 20 years ago or anything like that. We have to get ready to play the team that's on the field now. I can't control a lot of that kind of stuff, but what I can control is believing in ourselves when we walk into that stadium. I can't control a lot of that outside stuff.

WR Tyrone Calico
On playing four SEC teams this season
"I feel it's a good opportunity for this program and providing us with added publicity, which should help MT in the future."

On the offensive continuing to put up big numbers
"The way our offense is gelling right now, I feel like we'll do the same [as in past years] or be even better. The way [Alabama] plays defense, it's going to be hard to execute, but we're going to try and do our best. This will be a nice benchmark for us the next three weeks. We have to come out and execute and let the chips fall where they may."

RB Dwone Hicks
On playing Alabama
"It's going to be great. It's always fun to go out there and play against SEC teams. Everyone always loves the atmosphere [in the big games]. I know I do. Personally, I like playing on a grass field a lot. To be able to go out and play against Alabama is going to be great for the university and for me, also."

On playing big games and opponents
"We had a few chances [last year], but didn't perform as well as we wanted to. To be able to go out and play against SEC teams and to play against a school with great tradition such as Alabama, that's going to be great for our team and university. It is going to be special because I grew up, part of my years, in Alabama. And everyone I went to high school with, all the teachers, are Alabama fans. It's going to be great to go out there and have them rooting for me."

LB Randy Arnold
On the defense coming together
"Most of the people who start have been together for a while, so we know each other well and we can feel each other and it's good on the field and as a team. When you put on the blue everyday, it means a lot, especially when you walk onto the football field with Coach [McCollum]. He expresses that everyday - be together as a team. As we keep learning that, it gets better and better for us. Hopefully, it will be good to us in the future, and I believe it will.

"We're just trying to get better. We had a good camp. The defensive team has just tried to work [on Alabama] as every other team. [Alabama] has a lot of schemes and we're just working hard for this Saturday.

On playing on the road in the SEC
"Being in the [SEC road] environments, you get used to it. At first I admit it was big, but you get used to it. It gets me excited more than anything. I don't get nervous, just excited."

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