Quotes from Tuesday's football press conference
Saturday is Senior Day, Homecoming, Salute to VeteransNovember 6, 2007 · MT Media Relations
Head Coach Rick Stockstill
"The UL-Monroe game was a tremendous win for our football team. To go on the road and overcome the adversity we had to, not only during the game but before due to injury, really says a lot about our young men. I thought it was a tremendous compliment and credit to our team's character and will not to quit or give up because it would have been easy at several points during that game. It was probably the most satisfying win I have ever been part of as a coach.
"We always talk about doing things right, establishing a standard of excellence in everything you do and I am very proud of our guys. This game was a perfect example for any team - from Little League to the pros - about never giving up; constantly believing in what you can do if you stay the course and our team stayed the course."
How are Dwight Dasher, Damon Nickson and Phillip Tanner recovering from injuries and will they play Saturday? "It is hard to say if they will play at this point because we did not get much done at practice (Monday) due to the weather. I will have a better idea today. I would say (Dasher and Tanner) are further away from playing than (Nickson). I will know more after we practice today."
Could you have imagined that you would have dealt with this many injuries in one season? "Injuries happen in football. It is a collision sport and there is contact on every play. The thing that worries you is when guys have to play so many snaps because when you get tired you are more susceptible to injuries. We have been the most conditioned team this season and in all 10 games we have had more in the tank in the fourth quarter of any of our opponents so that's a credit to our strength and conditioning staff and our players."
Talk about Joe Craddock's resiliency and the way he came back after losing his job earlier in the season? I was proud of Joe. He played well. With all the touchdowns and all that, those were nice, but the best thing he did was protect the football. His Achilles Heel in the first three weeks was the turnovers so the ball protection was great against UL-Monroe. We need both of those guys (Dasher and Craddock) healthy down the stretch. Joe played a great game."
How do Joe and Dwight work together in this situation because they both obviously want to start? "When Joe got hurt it created an opportunity for Dwight and he came in and got it done. He gave us a lift. To Joe's credit, he didn't pout when he wasn't starting. Both are great team players. Joe was in a game when it was on the line and he came through big for our football team."
What does your defense have to do better this week after giving up 300-plus rushing yards last week? "UL-Monroe and UL-Lafayette are similar in what they do offensively so it's a challenge for our defense. We made some mistakes defensively against ULM but a lot of that was them. Their quarterback was very fast. We have to do a better job defensively on first down. We got hurt on first down in that game. They were able to run the ball and get positive yards. We didn't miss a lot of tackles. We just have to do a better job of staying in our gaps and lanes and playing better than what we did defensively last week. Our mental intensity and focus has to be strong."
At 0-4 when coach Stockstill was telling the players to stay the course and good things would happen, how difficult was it to believe that? "It was hard at first but we overcame that. As a player it is hard because with a record like that it seems as though your hard work is not paying off. It is paying off now."
How does it feel now that you are back in the title hunt going into these last two games? "We are just concentrating on this game. This is the most important game of our season."
Can you talk about your career at Middle Tennessee heading into this weekend's Senior Day? "My first two years here were frustrating as a player because we worked hard and had nothing to show for it. To go through seasons like that and not be successful was a blow but we never quit and never gave up and now it's paying off."
OL Brandon Nix
Talk about the success of the last two seasons? "It's not a surprise. When coach Stock got here he told us to either get on board or get off the ship. We don't look at each week as trying to win a championship. We look at each opportunity as one where we want to do our best."
Do you remember that first meeting coach Stockstill had with the team after he had been hired and if so, what were the thoughts of the team after that first meeting? "He has been with good coaches and just by that we knew he knew football inside and out and we realized he knows what it takes for us to play at the best of our ability."
Talk about the approach to the game each week. "We do the same thing every week. We are tying to do the same thing every game and every play. It's become muscle memory for us, or at least that's what we strive for it to be."
Can you talk about Joe Craddock's resiliency? "Joe is always confident and never gives up. He tries his hardest every chance. When he got in the game last Saturday he just told us, give me time and I will do my best."
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