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McCollum's Weekly Press Conference Quotes

September 1, 2003 · MT Media Relations

McCollum on the FAU game
Last week, number one, it was a loss that hurt us. It was one that, for 55 minutes, defensively, we played as good as we have since I've been here. But we didn't finish, and that's what we have to take out of there. We had a lot of individual efforts, Brandon Lynch being one of those with an interception, a fumble recovery, and a lot of tackles. Thomas Johnson, Jeff Littlejohn, Devarick Scandrett, Bobby Payne, Demetrios Walker, Alvin Fite, and Jonathan Bonner just to name a few that played really well and gave us a chance. I was really pleased with our tailbacks. Eugene Gross played really well and Don Calloway ran tough. We've got to have a lot of improvement. It's tough on offense when you don't execute and its tough when you have seven holding penalties and two offsides. We're not good enough to overcome that and it showed. We didn't execute very well. So we have to come out of that and turn the page. We've got a tough stretch ahead of us. We've got a tough challenge ahead of us for the rest of the year. We've got 11 games and it's a hard lesson to learn for us. But we've got to turn the page and get ready for one of the best team's in America in Georgia, so we're back to work at that. We know the type of environment we're about to walk into and what kind of team that have there. Coach Richt and his staff have done a tremendous job there and we saw what they did against a good Clemson team. We know the challenges ahead of us and we've got to go back and learn to execute on the offensive side of the ball and learn to finish on the defensive side of the ball. We've got to play with the same attitude that we played with for the first 55 or 56 minutes on defense, which was as good as I've seen since I've been here. We've got to learn to finish. We had two opportunities in the Blue Zone and had to take a field goal. We forced four turnovers on defense and you should be able to do a lot more and we didn't get that done. So we have to be more consistent in all areas.

McCollum on a lingering effect from last week's game
It's a hurt football team, I can tell you that. I guess the best thing about it was that it was on Thursday and we've had a couple of days to go back through it. We've had great meetings. It's a hurt team and it should be, but these guys know we're one play away. Even though we didn't play well, if we make one play then we're sitting here talking about how we're 1-0 if we don't give up a fluke play at the end. We're 1-0 and we're able to correct after a win, but we didn't get that done. [I don't think] there will be a hangover from it, but there hurt part will be there and it should be. But we've had good meetings and we're ready to turn the page. You can't stay hurt long when you look at the film and you know you've got the Georgia Bulldogs in front of you.

McCollum on the Georgia-Clemson game
I'm sure the players [watched the game]. We were up here breaking down film from a year ago and waiting to get that game. We had the game on and watched a little bit of it while we were getting the breakdowns done.

McCollum on correcting holding penalties
I hope [they're easy to correct]. The critical one was on the goal line. We scored a touchdown that would have put it away and it got called back. That was a tough call. We had to settle for a field goal after that and it hurt us. The other ones have got to get corrected. I've never been in a game where we had seven holding calls. We've got to get that corrected. That's what we're going to do starting this afternoon. Every time you turned around it was second and 20, first and 20, or third and 18. There aren't many good plays out there for those types of situations. It's got to be corrected, so we'll work hard on doing it.

McCollum on Georgia's defense
I'm impressed by their speed. They're well-coached, run very well, and are physical. They play with great effort and they believe in themselves. Even when teams drive it on them. You know, Clemson had opportunities last week and Georgia just stood up to the challenge every time they got close to that end zone and that's what you want out of a good defense. And, they play with an attitude, Starting with the defensive end, [David] Pollack. You just watch him and the effort he plays with and the enthusiasm for the game. It's just like what you want your guys to be like. They tackle well and they're very well coached. They're not out of place very many times.

McCollum on his offensive tempo against FAU
If you go back and look at it, we had one bad snap with a new center, but it happened at a critical time. We had it fourth and goal from the two and got about a half yard because we fumbled the snap. There's another missed opportunity for us. But overall, the tempo helped us get into position. We didn't make great decisions at certain times. I thought Andrico [Hines] came out and played really well early, but then had a lull in there for a while. But he'll continue to get better. I thought Calloway and Gross ran the ball well. One of the first drives, we executed really well, but Sam Williams fumbled the ball and we lost eight yards off the fumble and you're back to third and 12. So, those kinds of things you can't have and you've got to finish. We can all talk about the last play, but we recovered the onsides and all we have to do is get one first down there. The offense needs to learn to capitalize on those things. If they finish that, then the game is over, but we didn't get it done. We had opportunities and to get beat the way it happened really hurt. But we've got 11 more games. We'll turn the page. We've got a stretch of Georgia, Clemson, Missouri, and Temple; all great teams. And it starts with Georgia this week in their home opener. And you're talking about one of the best teams in the country.

McCollum on containing David Green
We're still meeting on that. Georgia has two great quarterbacks. David Green makes great decisions, number one. He's a class act. We know that. He has great character and he's a great leader. He makes great decisions throwing the football and running the offense. Every game you see, it's amazing to watch him. And [D.J.] Shockley, has got to be the best one-and-a-half quarterback, or two, or whatever they call him, in the country. People consider him, when he comes in, as just a runner, but he's not. He's an overall quarterback that can throw and run and does a tremendous job. So we know the problem that they present for us. They run their schemes very well. Overall, they're very well coached.

McCollum on special teams play
That was another area that hurt us. Going into the game, we had lost our deep snapper and our punter. It ended up costing us a blocked punt for a touchdown without the defense being on the field, and that hurts you in any game. And we knew it had a chance to be a problem going into the game. But I thought Colby [Smith] handled it well. Hunter [Birtch] made a few mistakes, but in that area of the game, mistakes are critical. We just hoped we could overcome it. We didn't want to talk about it before the game because I didn't want to come out and say that my deep snapper and punter were out. But going into the game, we had a true freshman snapping and a freshman punting for the first time ever. We had a blocked punt and that cost us when we were doing well.

McCollum on the defense
I loved it. I thought our defense played with an attitude, which I haven't seen. I thought our front people played really well. Thomas Johnson and Jeff Littlejohn, Scandrett, Payne, and Demetrios Walker. Our linebackers, Jonathan Bonner, Alvin Fite, Michael Woods, and Brandon Lynch, really flew around and played with an attitude. The disappointing thing is that, In the last four or five minutes we knew the offense was struggling. That's where, we as a team, talk about taking it over. Now is your chance. We've talked about defense winning football games, now here it is, go win it. For whatever reason we didn't have that same tenacity in the last four or five minutes. That's where we have to get better. But for 55 minutes, they had 72 total yards of offense. You would also think that they should [have held FAU scoreless]. You take the blocked punt for a touchdown, where the defense wasn't on the field, and then take the last four minutes where we don't execute and can't get a first down, and add it all up and we came up with a disappointing loss.

McCollum on the upcoming stretch of games
[We're going to take them] one at a time. We feel like we've got a good football team. Just because of what happened in our first game, doesn't mean we don't have a good football team. We've got to execute to be a good football team and we can't have nine penalties, just on offense. That's not counting others that we had, because we had 11 overall. We can't have penalties in the Blue Zone. We're on the two yard line get a holding call on a touchdown on a quick-hitting play. You can't do that. Is this stretch going to be tough? Yeah. But we thought it was going to be tough when we saw the schedule a year ago before we played this first game. You're now playing a Georgia team that, in the two years since Coach Richt took over, has gone to the level of being one of the best teams in the country. After watching them, they have guys out and their seconds are stepping up, and that's what you want out of a good football team. They're playing hard and playing with an attitude. But, that's what you come to Middle Tennessee for. You're going to have opportunities to play against the best in America. We've been in tough environments. Does that make it easy? No, but we've been there. We've got to show great improvement from the first week to the second, which we will, and you've got to do that against one of the best teams in America. Then we have to go right on down. You can't worry about the next one or the next one, we just have to go and fight our tails off against Georgia in their backyard. We've got a lot of players from Georgia on our football team that I know are excited to go back to Georgia and play. They'll have a lot of family there. I'm from there, and my Dad played there for a year. So I know all of the tradition of Georgia. We know what we're getting ourselves into, but we also know that we believe in ourselves. We've got to get back-to-back with each other right now. This is the time, and this team will do that.

McCollum on returning to Georgia for the game
This game is special because I get to take a team there that wants to be good, that wants to be recognized, that is hurting over a tough loss. And, I am able to go back home. I grew up a Georgia Bulldog, for whatever that's worth. My Daddy played there for a year and coming out of high, which if probably not a lot different from a lot of our players, I wanted to go to school there. Rex Robinson, who I played in high school with, played there. I could name all of the Georgia players. I could name all of the big plays. I could do it all. It is special to play at Georgia for any team. It will be special for our guys because our guys are at home. They want to go good there. They want to play well. And they want to do well because we didn't finish the first one. Now the thing we've got to do is [be concerned with] how we're going to play. Not who we're playing, but how we're going to play. We'll take this week and see where we are and then go put it up against one of the best teams in America and see how we stand. That's what's exciting. That's what you play this game for. Not everybody can play this game. But that's what you play for, to play against the best in America. You want to have the opportunity to go out in front of 90,000, or however many they seat now at Georgia, and represent your school. That's what we're going to do and we're going to work very hard this week to prepare for that.

McCollum on Dwone Hicks making the Titans
I'm very excited. You're hurting for a couple of days and then you get good news like that. I'm excited for Dwone because I know what he's going through personally, with his Mom. I know what kind of person he is. He's always overcome those obstacles. Coming out of high school, he overcame that when he didn't get the offers from the Auburns and the Alabamas and the places where, since that's his home state, he wanted to go. He's overcome all of those. I said all along that I was puzzled that he didn't get drafted. I knew what he stood for, character-wise number one, his work ethic, and ability. Coach Fisher and his staff did a great job evaluating him. They had seen him play and came down here and had been around him. I felt like they knew better than anyone what they were getting. For him to go out there and make the team, its just starting for him. Just making the team isn't good enough for him. Now he's going to find out how he can help that team be more successful. That's the type of kid he is, too. I know he's not satisfied. Dwone's the kind of guy that has played with a chip on his shoulder for four or five years and I think he's still got that chip on his shoulder. He'll play any position, I know that. All he wants to do is help that team be successful. I think that staff recognized that and now he's got an opportunity to do that. Now he's got to take it to another level. He's on the team now, and he's got to find a way to help that team get to the Super Bowl.

Safety Brandon Lynch
On playing at Georgia
"The stadium is one-and-a-half hours from my house, so I'll have a lot of family there. I played with one guy on each team - Arnold Harrison (Georgia) and Brad Lee (Clemson)."

On defending Georgia
"We can't have any missed opportunities and we have to capitalize on the plays handed to us. It's a tough task but it's not impossible. [David] Green is more of a throwing quarterback and [D.J.] Shockley is more scrambling and athletic. The two quarterbacks add more depth to our game plan, more things we have to get ready for."

On going back home to Georgia
"My high school coach called and said the whole team was coming to watch. We've talked about it all summer and all of us have played against a lot of those guys, so it will be more like a reunion."

On UGA wide receiver Fred Gibson
"He's very fast and tall and a real go-get-it guy."

On the loss to Florida Atlantic
"We're glad it happened on Thursday. We've had time to grieve and now it's water under the bridge. It hurt bad but we have to put it behind us because we have a big game Saturday [at Georgia]."

QB Andrico Hines
On going back home to Georgia
"Words can't describe what it means. You grow up and hear about all the tradition at Georgia and now you get to go and play there. It's a lot of kids dream to go and play against one of the best teams in the country.

"We have to put [the loss to Florida Atlantic] behind us because Georgia is a great ball club. We're looking forward as a team to see how we play against Georgia. We have to cut down on our mistakes offensively and fly around on defense. Georgia is an enthusiastic bunch on defense and they execute on offense.

"[UGA DE David] Pollack is a big concern, but it takes a team to win. Their defense is where they are supposed to be. They don't try to fool you. They just see how you handle what they throw at you."

On playing in hostile environments
"LSU was tough and Tennessee was tough last year. It's going to be a tough environment, but we have to come in focused and execute and we'll be fine."

On preparing for the next three road games
"We can't overlook Georgia and look to Clemson and vice versa. We have to prepare for what each team has to offer."

On Dwone Hicks making the Titans roster
"I'm very excited to have played with Dwone and [Tyrone] Calico. I think it speaks volumes for our program and it puts an exclamation point on the fact that you can come from anywhere and make it [in the NFL]."

On execution for Middle Tennessee
"We have to finish. We played pretty good for 55 minutes and now we have to learn to fight through when we're tired. We have some depth this year and when the one's come out, the two's can come in and fill the spot. But we all have to finish as a team."

On what an upset of Georgia would mean
"It would be like returning the favor, upsetting a team instead of us being upset. It would really turn the program around, not that the program is down, but it would get back the right frame of mind for the players and the fans."

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