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MT Football Press Conference Quotes

October 13, 2003 · MT Media Relations
OPENING COMMENTS: I'm very proud to get the win. I'm very proud of our football team, number one, for coming off what they had to fight through - Georgia, Clemson, and Missouri - as time goes by you can see how good those teams were. To come in and get a win at home against a very physical, well-coached, talented New Mexico State team is a big win for us. We can take a lot of positives from it. As our players saw early this morning, we have a lot of room to get better. We went into the game with challenges and goals. The number one thing we challenged our team with was not to have turnovers and we didn't have any turnovers. The other thing we challenged our team with was to get turnovers and we got four turnovers, and you can win football games that way. Now, we have to keep doing it.

It was a tough game for us injury-wise. We lost Kevin Davis for the season. Pierre Ingram was out and we don't know when we'll get him back. We've got another week of work ahead of us. I know one thing; we worked our tails off last week and made some things happen.

We've got a tough road trip going to Idaho. We made the same trip a year ago and Idaho beat us out there, so we know what we've got ahead of us. We know what kind of challenge we have ahead of us. Idaho is a very well coached football team and a very improved team defensively. Offensively, they can score a lot of points on you. But, It does feel good to come back and correct a lot of mistakes after a win. There is a lot of room on both sides of the ball for us to get better. In certain areas we didn't play very well, but we got a big win out of it.

MCCOLLUM ON DON CALLOWAY'S STATUS: We hope to have Don back. We hoped we would get him back last week, but he tried to put pressure on [his toe], but he couldn't get it going. We feel like we'll get him back this week. We need to get him back, because it will give us Don and Eugene Gross and Kelvin German.

MCCOLLUM ON QB ANDRICO HINES' STATUS: We don't know yet. We'll do like we always do; we'll go with the one that gives us the best chance to win the football game. That's why we're going to practice. Clint [Marks] did some good things and he's got some improvements to make in some areas. I'm very proud of the way Clint played. We'll go through practice and decide, probably, the same way we decided last week. I would say that, if Andrico is not completely healthy, then Clint or Josh, depending on how he does this week, would get the start against Idaho.

MCCOLLUM ON WHETHER OR NOT A PLAYER COULD LOSE HIS STARTING JOB DUE TO INJURY: I don't really have a philosophy on it. I am worried about this whole football team. I will sit down with Coach [Alex] Robins and our offensive staff and we're going to decide. One thing we're not going to have is a selfish football team. We've already been through that. We're going to play whoever gives us the best chance to win the football game depending on what Idaho does to us. The most positive of it is that all three of them can give you a chance to win. The thing I'm proudest of is that Andrico wants what's best for this football team and Clint and Josh want what's best for this football team, and that' s the way its going to be. Andrico was the biggest supporter and cheerleader for this offensive football team last week. And Clint will be and has been up until his opportunity to play and Josh has been, too. We've got three great character guys right there, and that's why you practice. If I go to practice this week and one of them throws an interception every time he throws it, then I'm not going to play him, regardless of who's considered what. I'm going to play the one who gives us the best chance to win the game.

MCCOLLUM ON WR KERRY WRIGHT: It's called recruiting. You recruit great players and they make plays. We knew what Kerry was capable of doing coming out of high school. He's grown up every year. Kerry's a mature kid. For two years he's made a lot of plays for us, but you didn't see them sometimes. If you go back two years ago against New Mexico State, he made one of the key catches on our last drive to finish that game. He got knocked out on the play, as a matter of fact. For two years he's done things. You hear [Tyrone] Calico and you hear [Kendall] Newson and other guys, but Kerry was a key player. Now, he's taking it to another level. The plays he made on slant routes were outstanding. On one play, which might have been one of the better runs since I've been here, I think he broke five tackles on his way to the endzone. He'll continue to do that. If they keep giving us one-on-one coverage against Kerry, then we've got to be smart enough coaches to get him the ball because he'll make people miss. That's what we need on this offense. With the way we run our offense, and Kendall was very good at this, you have to get yards after the catch. Calico could break a tackle and get extra yards and Kerry does the same thing. We've got other guys, with Jerrin Holt and Pedro Holiday coming back, Chris Henry and Wardell [Alsup] and Hashem Joyner that can make plays. We can spread it around; we just don't have a lot of depth right now.

MCCOLLUM ON RB TERRY JACKSON: He's been getting a lot of reps, but as of right now he's being redshirted. But, Terry Jackson is ready to play because he wants to do whatever it takes to help this football team win. I have a lot of confidence in Terry. He's got great feet and great awareness. He's pretty mature for a freshman. The number one thing for us is finding guys to take care of the football. There were some disappointing things that we did this week. We gave up four sacks and two of them were against the running back. It's not always the offensive line, that's part of their job, too. It's not just carrying the ball and running, but its catching the ball, and blocking on passes. Not only is Terry Jackson getting ready, but we've moved Tyrone Hicks to running back because we still have a tough stretch ahead of us. That's why its always great when I come in and the media says, 'What are you going to do with all four of those tailbacks?' Now you see, so you don't have to ask that question next year. That's why you have so many tailbacks, because it's hard to keep one healthy throughout the entire year.

MCOLLUM ON IDAHO QB BRIAN LINDGREN: We know how good a player he is. He can throw the football and lead the team. Idaho has always been very good on offense, and defensively, we saw that last year, they shut us down pretty good last year. We know what kind of challenge it is to go out there. We've got all the respect in the world for Lindgren. He's set just about every record there is out there on us two years ago.

MCCOLLUM ON THE ENVIRONMENT IN THE KIBBIE DOME: We're playing in a dome and it gets loud in that dome. The positive for us is that we were out there last year, so our guys understand that. We've been road tested pretty well. It's not like we haven't been on the road this season. We've played well on the road. We played well at Georgia. We didn't play as well at Clemson, but I thought we played really well at Missouri. This is going to be another tough environment, but if you're going to have a chance to reach your goals you have to win on the road. Every team has to win on the road, and this is our first conference challenge on the road against a good Idaho team.

MCCOLLUM ON HIS DEFENSIVE STRATEGY AGAINST IDAHO: They're a balanced team. You still have to stop the run against Idaho. Their running back does a tremendous job. He's a physical guy. They're a balanced team. They're going to run screens and run the zones, and they're going to throw the ball around and stretch you vertically. It's a big challenge. I don't see too many teams that just bump the corners up on people. We haven't seen it. I wish we would. I wish someone would bump up on Kerry. I don't think anyone does that. Against teams like this, you have to mix your coverages up. You don't want to show your hand on every play. You know that good offensive football teams are going to throw the ball on you as well as most teams throw the football now. We're going to roll up the corners at times. We've got to be able to mix up coverages and get guys in the box to stop the run.

MCCOLLUM ON THE MAGNITUDE OF THIS WEEK'S GAME: Every game is huge. Georgia was huge. This is our next game. With what this team has fought through, I couldn't be more proud of them for fighting through it and staying together, and having a good attitude and work ethic. It's time for good things to happen for them, but they have to make those good things happen. All we know is that we've got round two coming up and this is our next game. We're getting prepared for a good Idaho team and we can't worry about things that we can't control. We're going to go play Idaho and go take the challenge of winning on the road.

MCCOLLUM ON THE DEFENSE: It should be time [for them to step up] every week. I shouldn't have to say that because we've got some older kids with that group. I have confidence offensively with either quarterback; I have confidence that the running backs are going to take another step. I have confidence that, when Calloway is out and we lose Davis, that Eugene Gross and Kelvin German are going to do the job. But, defensively, it has to come from inside of them. It is time for them. I was disappointed in how we played at times on Saturday. I was pleased with the turnovers, but that doesn't mean that I wasn't happy about not being able to stop the option because of fundamentals. We worked all week at it and didn't get it done. We are still missing tackles. I thought Michael Woods stepped up and played his best game since he's been here. Justin Rainey continues to improve. We've got to find ways to get him on the field more. I thought Jeff Littlejohn gave us some good things inside. We did some good things. We've just got to work on not missing tackles and getting turnovers. Michael Woods' interception was big and Randy Arnold's interception was big. That's when you put the whole thing together. Randy picks the ball off and we just have to get a first down and the thing's over. But we can't convert on third and one. That's where we have to get better offensively. That's the disappointing thing offensively. We have to work on converting third and short to keep drives going. Whether it's the running back getting another yard on his own or the offensive line not jumping offsides. We have cut down our penalties, but we still had some stupid penalties that hurt our team. Our special teams were good. They were very sound. We got the big kickoff return early. I thought the punt team played well, and I thought we did some things on special teams that helped us win the football game.

MCCOLLUM ON PUNTER ROBERT BILLINGS: Robert is doing well, but he needs to hang the ball up higher for us right now. I'm not worried about the 60-yard punts right now. I'm worried about the 40 to 45-yarder that hangs up there and gives us a chance to cover it downfield. It's not any good to line drive a 60-yarder and they bring it back before we can even get off blocks. Robert's a tremendous punter and he's a big asset to this football team and he'll continue to be. I'm not worried about Robert's average. I'm worried about the punt team's net punting and how we handle that, because the punter's average doesn't win games for us.

MT PLAYER COMMENTS

WR Kerry Wright
On playing at the Kibbie Dome
"They had a great crowd [last year] and it was different playing in a dome. The lights were different - dim, and it was a very hostile environment.

"Playing on the road shouldn't be a problem. We just have to do a better job of preparing and use our experiences from earlier this year.

On Saturday's win
"It was a Sun Belt Conference game and we know all of them count. We're just taking them one at a time and trying to win them all and win a championship. There were a lot more smiles [Monday]. Everyone's a little more laid back and relaxed, and that's a good feeling to have.

On the improved play this season
"I've just come out and prepared and practiced more, a little more focused this season without Tyrone [Calico] and Kendall [Newson]. I'm more the centerpiece of the offense now and I just try to get better at practice everyday.

"We have a young receiving corps and I'm the old guy of the bunch now. I have to put them on my shoulders and carry the workload. We worked hard on footwork all summer and getting better at the little things.

On winning at Idaho
"Saturday wasn't our best game. We made enough plays to win, but to beat Idaho, we're going to have to play a lot better.

LB Randy Arnold
On getting Saturday's win
"What we've been through, watching on film each week, the bad breaks, just a little here and a little there, it was special to get a win. Our main focus last week was special teams. Coach [McCollum] was on us all week about special teams, and I thought we did a great job.

"The atmosphere was better [Monday]. It was a Sun Belt Conference win, so that was even bigger. We got started on the right foot and want to take that into this week.

"We just have a different mindset with Sun Belt Conference games. Our main goal is to win them all and get to a bowl game, and one loss in this league, you can't do anything with that.

On playing at the Kibbie Dome
"I couldn't breathe in the thing air and the dome was different. But playing there last year helps us get prepared this week. Playing on the road really isn't a factor after Georgia, Clemson and Missouri. We know what it takes to win now and we have to build on that.

On Idaho QB Ryan Lindgren and the Idaho offense
"He knows where to throw the ball and steps up in the pocket to avoid the rush well. They seem to want to run the ball more this year. We just have to have a good scheme like last week and be in the right places at the right time. Turnovers are a key to any defense and our goal for each week is three.

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