Quotes from Monday's Football Press Conference

October 21, 2002 · MT Media Relations
McCollum's Opening Statement
I'm very proud of the win. Right now, any win is very good. I was proud of the way the kids came back and represented at home after a disappointment probably three or four weeks ago. It's been a one-game season for us, and that's what we've got this week against a tough Idaho team.

As far as the game last week, the first half I was very proud defensively with a lot of things that we did. That was a very good offensive football team that we played. We jumped out on them, and then made some mistakes and let them back in it. At any time, I felt like we could have put it away by executing a little bit better, but that's a credit to Coach Bustle and his staff. They did a tremendous job. The quarterback is a great player. Their receivers were tremendous, even when we had great coverage on them, they just made some big time plays and you have to give them credit for that.

In the second half, offensively, we came out and I thought the field goal at the end of the half was big and the offensive drive to get us the lead at halftime was big. Brian Kelly did another great job for us with two key field goals. Paul Wheeler did a tremendous job kicking the ball for us. Robert Billings again did well.

We came out in the second half and we felt like we needed to get a three-and-out and offensively get something going to start the second half. We felt like the first five minutes of the second half were very important to us. The defense did their job and the offense marched it down and executed very well. We played the second half without Tyrone Calico and I was very proud of the young receivers who stepped up. We had a lot of guys; Wardell Alsup, Chris Henry, Quan Domineck, and Kerry Wright who played a really good game. We've been needing Kerry to step up and he did. Our running backs, ReShard and Dwone, and Andrico running the football and handling the offense did a great job. And I was proud of our offensive line. We've been beat up pretty good up front. Westbrook and Julius Gant didn't start, but ended up playing some snaps for us. Brandon Parker was playing well before he went out. Kevin Pascoe did a tremendous job playing both guard positions for us. Glen Elarbee continued to be very steady.

Defensively, we had some guys that did some good things. Kenny Edwards really stepped up and played great. (Kareem) Bland made some plays for us. Brandon Lynch again played well. We feel like we've got to get more pressure up front and do some things to get to the quarterback. We got to him early, but later on we didn't get to him. We had a breakdown in coverage on a couple of plays, but overall it was a good win.

Now we turn the page and get ready for a tough road trip against an Idaho team that's very explosive. We know we've got our work cut out for us. We've got to have a great week of work, and that's what we plan on doing. It's a one-game season for us and this is our next one. We know we've got to come out and be very good to go to Idaho and get done what we need to get done.

McCollum on WR Tyrone Calico's status
Probably about midweek we'll know his status. He feels like he's going to be fine, but we'll probably know Wednesday or Thursday on his playing chances.

McCollum on last year's NCAA scoring record shootout with Idaho
It was good because we won. I think everything about football is being one point better than the other team, and that's what we want to do. It was a game that was a big win for us, but this is two different teams. It's a different Middle Tennessee team and a different Idaho team. They're very explosive on offense and they are very improved on defense. We hope we're getting things turned around on both sides of the ball, so we can go and meet the challenge.

McCollum on Idaho QB Brian Lindgren
He's a great quarterback and he knows the system well. We saw it last year. They have great receivers and they do a great job with the backside of the backfield. They create problems for you. They're a very, very well coached football team. Tom Cable does a tremendous job and I have a lot of respect for Tom. We've got to have a good week defensively because this offensive team is one of the better offensive team's we will go against. On the same hand, we've got to execute our offense and take care of the football. We've got to do that if we have any shot at winning.

McCollum on defensive breakdowns in the second half
They made some great catches. They made one on Muhammad [Rashada] that Muhammad played as well as you can play. The kid made a great play. [Frederick] Stamps made a great play on a one-handed catch where we were in excellent position. Those things are going to happen. You can't let people behind you, and we had one or two situations where that happened to us and we've got to be better than that. But overall, we did a lot good things. We had the one bad penalty when we picked off a pass in the endzone and it led to a touchdown. You can't do that. You can't hurt yourself in those situations. We've got to be in great position, you've got to make plays, and you've got to get pressure. We've got to be able to bring four people and those guys can get pressure and cause problems in the backfield without us having to bring the fifth or sixth one all the time to do that. That's what we've got to get better at. You know, we were without Sam Smith, who we felt like was going to get to play but wasn't able. We'll get him back and possibly Thomas Johnson, depending on Thomas.

McCollum on playing in a dome this weekend
I don't know [how much of an adjustment will be]. I guess we'll find out Friday. I haven't been in their dome before. I know it won't be cold. It won't be raining, so we know some don'ts about it. I'm sure it's going to be loud and I'm sure they'll have it cranked up. I guess we'll find out.

McCollum on what last week's offensive performance does for the team.
I go back to the last drive against Vanderbilt. This team has struggled overcoming adversity. That was a game that we overcame adversity on the last drive and it carried over. Our offense started looking like the Middle Tennessee offense that we're accustomed to. I think anytime you have newness, anytime you have new people in areas, and anytime you have a tough schedule like we play, its tough to get a lot of confidence going. Game by game you could see the improvement coming. We had a missed assignment down there that gave them two points on a two-point conversion and we have a fumble that we shouldn't have committed. Those are things we shouldn't do. But to see our players making plays, our young receivers, along with David Youell and Tyrone Calico, it was something we have been waiting on. Andrico finding receivers and making good decisions and when they're not there, taking it and running it and making things happen. Our offensive line continues to get better even though we are pretty banged up. We've been doing a lot of mixing and matching up front. It's staring to come together. Our kids are feeling better about themselves. It feels better to go out and correct mistakes after a win than it does after a loss. We're starting to learn how to overcome adversity and finish things.

McCollum on Andrico Hines
Andrico came into the season with a lot on him. Andrico's job is to get the ball to players and let them make plays and not feel like he has to win the game. You go from Alabama to Tennessee to Kentucky and right on through our schedule, and it's tough, but he is learning to make better decisions and that comes with playing. You don't just walk out there and say 'I'm going to be a great player.' He's very competitive and the game means something to him. He wants to win as much as anybody, anywhere, and it hurts him to lose. Those are the kinds of kids you want to be around. He's had to listen to all the criticism while he's trying to grow and learn against some of the toughest people in America, which is tough on a 19 or 20-year-old kid. But he has overcome, and I think you're seeing things now that he's very capable of. But he was capable of that the first few games, too, as he grew up into it. I'm very proud of him for getting the Offensive Player of the Week. It's a great honor for the offensive football team, not just Andrico, but the team. He doesn't get that if the offensive line doesn't do its job and the receivers don't make big plays. That's the great thing about football. It's a team sport, not an individual sport like some people think it is.

McCollum on the importance of making big receiving plays without Calico in the lineup
As Andrico has grown in our offense, you don't want to put him in situations that are tough which we might have done early. As he's grown with the offense, he's starting to see things downfield. He's scrambling and making runs. You've got guys who believe they can make plays. The offense isn't about one receiver. It never has been. We had a lot of guys make plays. David Youell made some key catches. Quan Domineck makes a catch. Chris Henry makes something happen. Wardell (Alsup) has made some key catches. We'll continue doing those things and we'll continue growing. When you're going to have success and you're going through struggles, someone has to step up and make plays. Who's it going to be? Well, now we're starting to see them step up and make plays and be more confident. Hopefully, now this will carry on into practice and through the rest of the schedule.

McCollum on Idaho's misleading record
It's no different than Louisiana-Lafayette last week. That's a big win for us. That's the same team that beat UAB 34-0, which is a pretty good football team. They've had a tough schedule. Idaho has played a lot of tough people. You look at the Washingtons and some of the people they play out there like Oregon State and right on down. They've had a very tough schedule. But they've had some success against people. We know that when you go on the road in the Sun Belt it's going to be a tough environment. We know that to reach our goals we have to be mentally tough enough to take care of our business.

DB Will Martin
On the Idaho Offense
"They have a big-play offense with a good quarterback who moves the ball around and they have some good wide receivers. I believe [WR Orlando Winston] is their big-play receiver. It will be a good challenge for our secondary."

On QB Brian Lindgren
"The quarterback does a good job of getting back quickly and throwing the ball. He makes quick decisions. He will keep us on our toes. Breaking up passes and getting pressure on him is our biggest challenge. He's a big guy who can see over the line and he gets rid of the ball quickly."

WR David Youell
On Idaho and last year's game
"Those were two great offensive teams last year competing against each other. There were great players in that game. Our defense has to step up and the offense has to put it on our shoulders to outscore the other team at least by one point."

On play in the Sun Belt
"We play in one of the most competitive conferences in the country, and one loss puts a lot of pressure on yourself for the rest of the season, to not lose another game. If you lose another game, it's going to be tough, if not impossible, to win the conference."

On QB Andrico Hines
"Since the first game, he's made great plays and it's just been a matter of everyone clicking together. He's grown up tremendously. The leadership skills have always been there and they are starting to shine through. Going through tough times, you're going to see what your leaders are really about and Andrico has really shined through the adversity."

On the offense
"It seems like we have injuries each week and someone else has to step in, and it's tough to gel together that way. But football is a team sport and people have to step up if their number is called."

QB Andrico Hines
On his development this season
"You have to press forward and get better everyday. It doesn't seem as fast as it did from my first two or three starts. I'm in my sixth or seventh game of the season, and now things are starting to come to me. I think that just comes from playing. We're just trying to turn this thing around and get better day-by-day."

On the team's play the last couple of weeks
"I would say we have a little momentum, but everyday is still a workday when we go to practice, and every game is the most important game because it's the next game. That's the attitude that we're taking here. We can't look forward to any goals we set earlier in the year. We just have to look at the next opponent. Right now it's working for us and we have to keep coming out and working hard."

"Idaho is the most important thing on our list, and if we get that win, then it's the next team after that. The conference right now is wide open, but we're living day-to-day."

On Idaho and last year's game
"It was to the point where I thought we had everything under control, and in the blink of an eye, it was almost a tie game. We have to come out and execute and everything will take care of itself."

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