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Quotes from Monday's Football Press Conference

September 16, 2002 · MT Media Relations
Overview from McCollum
Going into our off week after coming off of two very tough opponents, we felt like there were a lot of things we needed to do to get better. First of all, we needed to get more physical. We had too many opportunities that we didn’t take advantage of against two of the top teams in the country in the first two weeks. You have to take advantage of opportunities.

We had a good workweek. We had Saturday off and got back to work last night. We’re 0-2 and we have a team that has to learn how to win. We have got another tough challenge ahead of us this week against a Kentucky team that is 3-0 [and playing] at home. We’ve already learned how tough that can be, anytime you go on the road and play in those environments. So we know we have got another great challenge ahead of us. We have got to execute. We’ve got to do the small things right. Hopefully, that is some of the things that we got corrected during the off week.

We’re playing a Kentucky team that is a very well-coached football team. Defensively, they have good speed and they’re very well coached by John Goodner, who I have known and watched over the years. Their defensive tackles do a tremendous job inside and they have good speed on the field. Like I said, they’re very well-coached and we have a tough challenge.

Offensively, it starts with the quarterback and the tailback, which are quality players. We have got to do a tremendous job. I thought we improved defensively two weeks ago against Tennessee in a lot of areas, and we still have a lot of improving to do. We have to continue to become a better tackling team, especially against a team like Kentucky. So, we have our work cut out for us. What we have to do is have another good week of work this week. We’re still in the process of getting film on Kentucky because we didn’t have a trade with them and we’re still working on that so we’ll have a good idea of what we’re doing.

McCollum on his team’s health
We’re healthy. We were banged up a little bit coming off of Alabama and Tennessee and we had a physical week last week on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. I feel like we’re in good health. We got our legs back a little bit. We’re going to have a good week this week. We lost Chris Johnson in the Alabama game for the year and Lucas Frost is out for the year and Shawn Allen is out for the year, but other than that everybody should be good to go.

McCollum on Kentucky tailback Artose Pinner
He’s a quality back. He’s physical. He catches the ball well. I saw in the paper that he had 10 catches last week and he does a tremendous job getting yards after contact. You can see a lot of things that he does well and how he fits into their offense. They’re running the football with him and I think he’s a quality SEC running back.

McCollum on Kentucky quarterback Jared Lorenzen
You know as big as he is, you read about the size being 280 or 285 or whatever, he’s athletic. It’s not like the guy is just sitting back there and can’t move. He gets away and he’s very dangerous when he does get away. He still makes great throws down the field. He’s an athletic quarterback who can hurt you in a lot of ways. He has a great arm and great arm strength, and he makes good decisions. But the thing about it is, when you get pressure on him, you’ve got to get him down. He will have them hanging on him and still has a strong enough arm to get it down field and make plays. He does a tremendous job. He’s a competitor and he has had a great year for them.

McCollum on why his team seems to play better in the second half
We have talked about it as a staff and as a team. I think that in the first game, it was probably a bunch of new guys and we probably didn’t turn it loose like we would have liked to due to experience and everything else. I think the second game had a lot to do with the team on the other side of us. They did some good things, especially on the defensive side of the ball. We made some critical errors. I don’t know if its nerves or just excitement or what it is. We did that in the first quarter against Tennessee. We gave up a play that we had worked on continuously. We’ve been having mental breakdowns here and there. We’ve got to do a better job in the first quarter. I do feel like we’re in good condition. I thought in the first game we had them worn down pretty good and we were able to do some things. I don’t think in the second game it had anything to do with it. I thought our kids settled down and we had some mistakes in the kicking game that gave them good field position and we weren’t able to move it offensively, which is a credit to their defense, too. But we do need to come out [strong]. I think now we’ve got two games under our belt and we’ve had an off week to improve on things we need to improve on. Now we just have to come out of the gate ready to play. I don’t think that it was that they weren’t ready. They came out excited, but we’ve got to go out and execute now. Our biggest thing is executing and doing the things that Middle Tennessee has to do to be successful. When you go play these teams in the SEC in their stadium and in their environment, there’s no room for error. We’re not good enough to not be as good as we can be and this is another week that is going to be like that.

MIDDLE TENNESSEE PLAYER QUOTES

RB ReShard Lee
“We want to play like we know how. We had a good week of practice during the off-week and tried to get our tempo back. We’re focusing on what we do now and what we do best and that’s play the tempo game and control the football. Whenever you have a limited amount of offense against one team, the next week you play you want to come out and show that every week is not going to be the same and I think we have made a lot of improvement since UT.”

Lee on Kentucky
“They play sound football just like the rest of the teams in the SEC. They play good defense and have a bunch of athletic guys, but it’s really about what Middle Tennessee does. We have to execute and make plays. It’s about us right now and getting ourselves together.”

DB Muhammad Rashada on Kentucky QB Jared Lorenzen
“[Jared] Lorenzen is a good quarterback and I look forward to the challenge. All DB’s look forward to playing against good quarterbacks. He’s a big guy and will not go down easy. You have to stay in coverage longer than usual and if he doesn’t go down, he can run. He is also very elusive and it will be a big challenge for us.”

Rashada on Commonwealth Stadium
“The last two games have both been hostile crowds, and I don’t think this one will be any different. They are 3-0 and a good team and their crowd will be pumped up. They should have a lot of confidence.”

WR Tyrone Calico on practice during the off-week
“The off-week was big because we know what we have to accomplish before we get to the Sun Belt Conference games. We have to be able to execute our basic package before we can move on to other things. We had too many mistakes in the first two games. We have to execute more and finish in the red zone. The running game opens up the passing game, and we haven’t done that yet. This week we hope to open up the running game more and that will open up the passing game.”

Calico on playing better in the first half
“We have been a second-half team so far, but this week we want to come out with a different attitude and play the first half the way we have played in the third and fourth quarters.”

DB Michael Woods on work during the off-week
“We worked last week on our tackling drills and just wrapping up on every tackle. We want to get a lot of people around the football and gang-tackle.”

Woods on playing better in the first half
“That’s something we’ve talked about a lot these past two weeks. We know in the first quarter of the last two games we have come out a little slow, but the second, third and fourth quarters, we’ve come out strong. We can’t fall behind in the first quarter and win this game. We have to play better to start the game. We could have won those first two games and now we are just focusing on getting a win.”

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