Blue Raiders arrive in Motor City

Press conference quotes from Stockstill, players

December 22, 2006 · MT Media Relations

DETROIT, Mich. - It's officially bowl week for the Blue Raiders as the team arrived in rainy Detroit this morning to continue preparing for their first postseason game in the I-A era.

  • Photos: Ford Field Practice Gallery
  • The Blue Raiders left Smyrna Airport this morning at 8:30 AM and arrived in Detroit at 11:00 AM EST. After arriving at the hotel, the team went directly to a press conference as the Blue Raiders talked about their preparations, playing in their first bowl game, and the big turnaround under Rick Stockstill in just one year.

    The team ate a quick lunch and headed to Ford Field for the first time where they went through a one-hour workout. The Blue Raiders spent most of the practice just fine tuning their game plan for Tuesday night's contest against Central Michigan.

    "After traveling all day it was good to stretch our legs and get on the field," said Stockstill. "I think they were all real excited to check Ford Field out and to begin the feeling of being in a bowl game. This is a great accomplishment by this team and they deserve to be rewarded."

    The players were then treated to a night at the Utopia Night Club and Thunderbowl Lanes for a taste of Detroit.

    The Blue Raiders and Chippewas will kickoff the 10th annual Motor City Bowl on Tuesday at 6:30 PM CST. The game will be nationally televised on ESPN.


    Head Coach Rick Stockstill

    Opening statement
    "We are real excited to be here and play in the Motor City Bowl. It is a great opportunity, not only for our football team, but our entire University to be the first team (in school history) to play in a bowl game. We are here because of our players and the work they have put in throughout their careers, but especially this year."

    On the layoff between their last game and the Motor City Bowl
    "It has been about three weeks since our last game. During the first week, we lifted and ran for a few days and had practice on Friday and Saturday. During the third week, it was a final exam week so all we did was lift and run as well. Last Friday, we started practicing again. We gave them a couple weeks off to heal some bumps and bruises and get healthy as well as get their school work done."

    On playing at Ford Field
    "Essentially this is an away game for us because Central Michigan is only two hours down the road, but we are excited about playing in a great venue. We are not going to be intimidated because they might have more fans than we do. We have been in some pretty intimidating stadiums so it will not be anything we are not prepared for."

    What have you seen on film preparing for Central Michigan
    "They are a really good team with a lot of size and strength. We are not a team with a lot of size or speed. We are a blue collar team. We have to work hard to stay in games and fortunately we have been able to do that a few times this year. On offense, they are awfully talented. Their quarterback is real good. He can make all the throws and he is extremely accurate with the ball. He can also make things happen with his feet."

    Middle Tennessee senior running back Eugene Gross

    On the long layoff
    "We have been working pretty hard everyday. It does not matter what the situation is, you have to go out there and practice hard. We want to enjoy our time here, but we have to have the mind set that this is a business trip."

    On being part of the first Middle Tennessee team to make a Division I bowl
    "It is something that we will always be able to say that we were the first team to get to a bowl. For us seniors, it is something great that we know we came here and we were able to get it done. Personally, it has been a great senior year. We had great coaching and we all believed in the system and what was going on. Coach always told us that if we do the little things right, we will get to this point."

    Middle Tennessee senior quarterback Clint Marks

    "It is not the most talented team that wins championships, it's the team that works hard, comes together, and stays together."

    On what the offense has to do against Central Michigan
    "Take care of the ball and don't turn it over. Play consistent on offense and try and keep their offense off the field as much as possible and just have fun and make plays. "They are real physical on defense and very strong. They are coached extremely well and they are always going to be in the right spot. We are just going to have to be consistent and get our playmakers on the field and use their speed."

    On being a member of the first Middle Tennessee team to make a bowl
    "It's a great feeling. We have worked so hard all year. This is the first time this team has made a bowl game so it's just great and we are really happy about that."

    Middle Tennessee junior defensive end Erik Walden

    On playing at Ford Field
    "It is a tremendous honor for us to be here. Right now we are just taking it one day at a time and make sure everyone is on the same page and just come out and play."

    On being away from your family on the holidays
    "At first, I thought it was going to be hard, but this is my family too. We are all here together as a team."

    On the excitement on campus
    "When I first got here it was kind of a rocky road. Now things are getting better. We are winning The fans are there for us. On campus, people are real excited. There is a lot of enthusiasm now and we are just excited to be a part of it."

    Middle Tennessee junior safety Damon Nickson

    On playing on ESPN
    "We are ecstatic about it. Our fans are excited. It is a great chance for us to showcase Middle Tennessee and show them what we are all about."

    On controlling his excitement when he gets his first return opportunity
    "You always have to stay calm and stay focused when you are back there. You don't want your emotions to get in the way and get too excited and lose the ball, so staying calm is a big key for me."

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