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Comments from Tuesday's football press conference

Blue Raiders prepare for No. 2 LSU

September 11, 2007 · MT Media Relations

HEAD FOOTBALL COACH RICK STOCKSTILL

Opening comments:
"We were very pleased after the game against Louisville and then after watching the film we were very pleased with our effort and how hard the team played. We got after them pretty good and we didn't back down at any time during the game. We did a good job of creating some explosive plays. I believe the biggest difference in the outcome of the game is explosive plays vs. turnovers. Louisville had 12 explosive plays and we had 11, but they had one turnover and we had four. I thought that was the difference in the game.

"That's really been the difference in the first two games. The other team has protected the ball better than we have. If we could have eliminated the turnovers (against Louisville) then I think we could have had a great chance to win that game on the final drive."

VIDEO
Press Conference
Did the game and competitiveness of the game against Louisville surprise you at all?
"No, not at all. Just being with our team last year the one thing we have done since I've been here is we played hard every game. We have been in some blowout games on both sides but we keep playing to the last whistle. We never quit. I commend our players on their effort and going about their business."

What do you have to do to control tackle Glenn Dorsey?
"For one thing you can't say you are going to pancake him with one player like the player from Virginia Tech said. (Dorsey) is really good and one guy can't stop him. We had to do a good job of keeping him from penetration. I don't think we have one person on our team who can block him in a 1-on-1 battle."

What do you see as the biggest key, offensively, against LSU? "For us the big thing against LSU is we have to be productive on first down. They are too good and too talented and they make it even more difficult when you get behind the chains in long-yardage situations."

Early Doucet has not had many return opportunities but what concerns does he present?
"I think he is really good and we will have a plan from a kicking standpoint on how we are going to handle that. Most people are kicking away from him or kicking it out of bounds. Their team is so talented you can't say we have to stop this guy or that guy because they are loaded with first and second round picks on offense and defense."

Do you think LSU is the No. 1 team in the country?
"I voted for them No. 1. They are very talented, have a ton of depth, a physical offense and a physical defense. I think they are playing as good as anybody if they can stay healthy."

What were your impressions of Mark Thompson in his first game at center vs. Louisville?
"I thought Mark did a phenomenal job. He has never played center before and has never made a snap in a live game, he's playing the No. 8-ranked team in the country on national TV on Thursday night and he didn't have any snaps that couldn't be handled. I thought he did an incredible job. He blocked well and protected well and the reliability of getting the snap was key."

It seemed the early score against Louisville helped the confidence of your offense. LSU has only given up seven points all season. Is scoring early a key for the confidence of your offense against them?
"LSU hasn't given up a lot of points in a long time. It will be a bigger challenge for us to score as much as we did against Louisville because I think LSU's defense is a lot better, but that doesn't mean I think we can't have success."

Phillip Tanner played in the secondary as a freshman and now he is playing tailback as a sophomore. What type of versatility does he bring to the team?
"Phillip Tanner is a great athlete. If you are a running back at the college level you are probably a good enough athlete that you can play a bunch of positions. Phillip is a great team player. Last year when we had all the people getting hurt in the secondary he came to me and volunteered to go into the secondary. You love his attitude, his team-first attitude, and he's a tough, physical, hard-nosed runner."

Did you see your quarterback, Joe Craddock, kind of coming of age in his second start of the year against Louisville?
"No question he is growing up. You could just tell it in his demeanor in his second game, his leadership, his command of the huddle, his game management, and his actions on the sideline, just everything. He improved a lot in regard to a lot of the intangibles from game one to game two."

It seems people on the team like and respect Joe and you have believed in him since last spring. What was it you saw that made you believe in him early on?
"One of the most crucial things that I believe is important for a quarterback is that you have to be liked and respected by your teammates. If that doesn't happen you will have a tough time leading them. I think his teammates respect him and they like him. You just like his charisma and personality and his ability as a quarterback. I think he has the potential to be a really, really good quarterback once he eliminates the turnovers. I like what he brings to the table from an athletic standpoint. He gives us an opportunity to move in the pocket and he can make just about every throw you have."

QB Joe Craddock
What are your thoughts on LSU's defense?

"LSU has a very good defense. We have to be able to stay ahead of the chains and face short-yardage situations. If we go in there and can get on the board early it may open some doors for us. If we can run the ball then it may open up some passing lanes and vice versa. It's a tough task for sure."

Where you surprised at how well the offense played against Louisville?
"I wasn't surprised at all because I knew our offense could perform that well. I know we can do a lot and proved that at Louisville. We were able to get some positive yards and that's key. You can't go backwards and we also proved that in the Florida Atlantic game."

DL Taveres Jones
Your thoughts on LSU?
"Defensively, we are going out there and playing our hardest. I felt, defensively, we let the offense down last week. Our offense was scoring a lot of points and we didn't do our job to get them the ball to have more possessions.

"LSU has a very good tea. They have a great quarterback, they are very athletic and we can't have the missed assignments. It's tough enough out there when you are doing things right."

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