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Football Press Conference Quotes

August 25, 2003 · MT Media Relations
I think, like any coach at any program in America, we're ready to get started. We've had a great off season, we had a great Blue Dawn, and we had a great summer. I think it's the time now when everyone is tired of going against each other. Coaches are ready to see where we are with our program. We've got a great challenge ahead of us. We're excited, because, for the first time since we've been here, we have a home opener. That's exciting to us, to our players and our staff, and our fans. From the way it sounds, we're hoping to have a full house and that means that we're taking the steps that we need to take to become one of the top programs in America. That's the first step for us, and we're excited about that opportunity. We have a Florida Atlantic team coming in here that is a well-coached football team. Any time you play a team from Florida you know they'll have great speed. We know we have a great challenge ahead of us. We've got about two more days of work ahead of us to finish up. We're banged up a little bit, but we should have everybody ready to go. We're looking forward to getting out on the field at Floyd Stadium and playing our first one.

McCollum on playing on Thursday night
You would have to ask the administration [why we're playing on Thursday] , but, I think with school in session, it gives us a great opportunity with our student body to be part of the game. It's a night where a lot of programs aren't playing. It caused us to report earlier than we ever have. We reported on July 31st, which is the earliest we've ever reported. But, hopefully with a Thursday night game, we'll get the student body involved and it will be the only show going on right now. It would be great for us to fill that stadium up for the first time.

McCollum on FAU's offense
Like any [Howard] Schnellenberger team, they're going to be a physical football team. They're a two-back team with play action. They will throw out of the split back [formation] and they have a quarterback that throws the ball around well. They have a lot of guys who have been two-year starters going into their third year playing together. They'll have a transfer here and a transfer there mixed in. It's like any opener; you don't know what to expect, you really don't, on either side of the ball, them or us. I do know, from film that we studied from a year ago, that they got better as the year went along. They have a lot of speed, especially on defense, and they have receivers that can make plays and backs that can run the football. It's like any opener. It comes down to who executes, who makes the least mistakes, and who takes care of the football.

McCollum on Coach Schnellenberger
I have never met him in my life. I might have met him once on the road recruiting. I have always looked [favorably] on the jobs he's done at the places he's gone. When you talk about Miami, he's the one that really started that; he took Louisville, football-wise, and put them on the map. He did a tremendous job there. He's taken several programs and built them that way. And, when you look at his staff, they are all from places like Miami or the Dolphins, so he's got a very experienced staff. They're a well-coached football team and they'll be a tough football team.

McCollum on his team's offense
We've got to line up and play. I'm excited about it. I think, number one, you've got a quarterback who has a year of experience. That's a positive for us. We've got a tailback that has experience. He's played three years for us in big games. Don's first-ever game for us was against the University of Florida, so he's not going to be intimidated by a lot of things. We've got some young backs behind him that will play. We've got some receivers that have played in a lot of games like Kerry Wright, Hashem Joyner, and Wardell Alsup. And we have some newcomers that we're looking forward to seeing play to see if they can step up and be playmakers. On the offensive line, we've got a lot of older guys with some younger ones sprinkled in there. We've been very pleased with our fullback, Nick McAfee, who played a year ago, but has really come on and is now more than just a blocker, he's a weapon for us. We're excited. We've got to get out there, like any first game, and they have to gel together. We made some moves on the offensive line that have worked out good for us, like moving [Brandon] Westbrook to center. It will be one of the biggest offensive lines we've ever had, and now they have to put it all together and give us a chance to be successful.

McCollum on season openers
They're all tough. The toughest part of it, and you can take the names out of it, is not knowing how you're going to play because you really don't know you're team. You think you do, but all you've seen is your team go against each other. Having one at home and knowing that, for the first time since we've been here, that we get to sleep in our own beds Wednesday night, is a positive. But, we've got to play better at home than we did a year ago. Like I said before, this is a whole different team and a whole different year, and we know what we have to do as a football team. I like this team, I like the closeness of it, I like their attitude, and I look forward to seeing them play.

McCollum on preseason predictions
It doesn't really matter to us. Our expectations are always high, anyway, so I don't really get caught up in whether they picked us first or third or if we're 50th in the country or 60th. We just have to go play. If there is one thing that I hope we learned from last year, and that's overcoming adversity, fighting through it, and fighting through the injuries that hit us hard last year. It did allow young guys to play, who now have a year of experience and are playing earlier than we expected. The only expectations that we have are the ones we hold ourselves. I've never seen a poll be right, yet. We've just got to go take care of what we can do, and that's what we plan on doing.

Senior RB Don Calloway
On Florida Atlantic
"The linebackers have a lot of speed, as do the defensive backs. Like [Coach McCollum] said, basically all of their players are from Florida, so you know they'll have speed everywhere."

On playing on Thursday night
"We have a lot of students in town and hope they come to the game with it on Thursday night. We hope it helps us get the student body out to watch us more this season.

"Last year after we lost to SEMO at home, the fan base really went down. So I think it's important for us to start off with a win to keep the fans interested and keep them coming out."

On last year's team compared to this year's squad
"We had a lot of selfishness last year, guys playing for themselves and their stats rather than for the team. We've really had some seniors step up into leadership roles this year and everyone is playing for the team."

Senior LB Randy Arnold
On this year's defense
"Experience is a big difference, guys gelling together and being on the same page. That's the most important thing, guys being on the same page and working together."

On fall camp and getting ready for the opening game
"It's been a long camp and a very physical camp. There have been more walk-throughs and just getting into the right position and being mentally prepared. I've never been so prepared as I am for this first game."

On playing the first game at home and on Thursday night
"Every game since I've been here has been away against a big team, and now it's like we're the big team, being able to open at home.

"You see the Thursday night games each week, ESPN night, and it really gets you going. It helps being a home game and the first game, but you really get hyped for it. You want to start off on the right foot and playing at home is just another advantage."

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