Quotes from Tuesday's football press conference

Blue Raiders to tangle with Hilltoppers Thursday

September 18, 2007 · MT Media Relations

Head Coach Rick Stockstill
Opening comment:
"With WKU coming up we are playing a very good football team. They won a national championship in 2002. They finished in the top 15 in 2003 and 2004 and they were 6-5 the last two years. The more success you have the better chance you have to recruit good players and Western Kentucky has good players on their team. We are expecting a good, hard game. We are excited to play the game and we are excited to be playing at home. Western Kentucky is a good football team with good players and it will be a challenge for us Thursday."

Even though you had a tough three-game road slate to start the season, are you pleased with the progress your team has made? "Actually you look at the fact we started the season with four games in 20 days, including Thursday's game against Western Kentucky, and we knew it would be difficult because we have so many new guys at critical positions. Then, on top of that we had all the injuries on the line and that made it tough. I am disappointed in our overall record but I continue to see progress. We are playing so many young guys who had never played Division I football and there are growing pains when you do that. I like the way we compete and finish games. Playing these games at the outset will help us down the road as these guys get more experience. I am not disappointed in our players at all."

Weekly Press Conference
How challenging has it been to prepare with the limited time of playing four games in 20 days? "It's been difficult. We started out with limited depth to begin with and then we had so many people get hurt (in the preseason) so there has not been a lot of healing time for guys to get healthy. You can't practice nearly as long because you are practicing the same guys. We have had to limit what we are doing offensively and defensively because you don't have enough time to practice everything. It's been difficult but that's not an excuse because we knew it going in. I think our guys have dealt with it well. They have been attentive to detail and they are committed to getting better every day."

How much recognition of a rivalry with Western Kentucky do your players see going into this game? "They were 1-year-old the last time these two teams played (1991). Our players understand there has been a rivalry here in the past and they understand the fans from both schools and the passion they have for this game but no one on this team has experienced it. They will appreciate the rivalry now that Western Kentucky is coming into the (Sun Belt) Conference. The rivalry will build once they have to play them every year and with the close proximity of the schools."

Do your players realize Western Kentucky's motivation for this game? They have called it there bowl game. "Our players realize the importance of every game we play. We approach every game the same way and we know we will get Western's best shot. This is their first Division I game they will have played that they will have had a realistic chance to win and we are the first team they will be playing from their new conference. Our players fully understand the importance of this game."

What is your assessment of what Western Kentucky does from an offensive and defensive standpoint? "They are a good football team. Players want to go where they have a chance to win, with good facilities and receive a good education. Western Kentucky has won and they have won a national championship. They have been in the playoffs and they have recruited good players. They have two good quarterbacks, good receivers, they spread the field and they throw it a lot. Their defense is active. They have a junior college linebacker (Alonzo Higgins) who I am familiar with who was a high school player in South Carolina. They have good players and they utilize their talent."

What challenges does Western Kentucky playing two quarterbacks present? "Both David Wolke and K.J. Black are good passers and I think both are good runners. It's not a big discrepancy as far as one being the runner and one being a passer. Both are good quarterbacks and obviously if you are good enough to sign at Notre Dame (which Wolke did) then you must be pretty good. David is an excellent quarterback and K.J. is the same. They don't change much of what they are doing depending on which quarterback is in there."

TE/FB Clint Corder
Do you think the players understand this rivalry with Western Kentucky?
"We haven't played Western Kentucky in awhile, at least in football. I was recruited a little by Western Kentucky. As far as the rivalry right now I don't see it that much. It's a game they really want to win but it's a game we really want to win, too."

What are you thoughts on Western Kentucky? "They are a real tough bunch. Looking at their front seven, they play really hard. We have to go out and play a good game just to have a chance. They are fundamentally sound on defense."

Have you been to Middle Tennessee-Western Kentucky basketball games and if so what are you thoughts on that rivalry? "I have been to the games and it's been awesome. The arena is always packed and it's hard to find a seat. I'm hoping for the same atmosphere here for our football game. The Sun Belt Conference is traditionally stretched out so this is good to have a rival in the league that is close. I don't know how many fans Western Kentucky will bring but local fans realize this rivalry."

Follow the Blue Raiders on Twitter @MTAthletics for continued updates.