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Quotes from Monday's weekly football press conference

September 6, 2004 · MT Media Relations
ANDY MCCOLLUM PRESS CONFERENCE QUOTES
SEPT. 6, 2004

OPENING COMMENTS

Coming off what was basically an open week last week our prayers and thoughts are still with a lot of our kids who have family in Florida and are still fighting through the storm.

We went back to work (Sunday night) and had a good practice preparing for a tough Akron opponent out of (MAC) conference that has received a lot of attention the last few years. Akron is a great challenge for us and they have a great quarterback (Charlie Frye). Everything advertised about him is absolutely true. He is probably one of the better quarterbacks we have played since I have been here. He can throw the ball, run and do great things.

We are going into a game where Akron has a game under its belt and we still do not. We are excited about having the opportunity to play. It's kind of tough when you are going into a game and then are called off on a Thursday when you are in game preparation, but the players have handled it well. The positive is that it has allowed us to get a couple kids healthy that would not have played last week (CB DeMarcus Green and CB Bradley Robinson). They are two guys that now seem to be ready to go this week.

HOW EXCITED ARE YOUR PLAYERS ABOUT THE CHANCE TO FINALLY GET ON THE FIELD THIS WEEK AND PLAY A GAME? It's probably been one of the longest preseasons we have had and you get tired of banging against each other. That's been the toughest part. They have had the opportunity to see a lot of people play and see some things that have happened in games. First games are always tough. There's always the unknown about your own team in the first game. We don't have one under our belt and Akron does. That makes it tough, but our kids are ready to play. We just need to get on the field and play. It's tough going against a team the caliber of Akron right now that does have a game under its belt and played a very good Penn State team on the road. We are ready to see where we are against a great team we don't know much about because it's a new staff from a lot of different areas. The thing we have to do is take care of us and make sure we are ready to go into the opener without missed assignments.

BY HAVING A GAME UNDER THEIR BELT, WHAT IS IT AKRON HAS THAT MIDDLE TENNESSEE DOES NOT? They have game experience. All we have done is gone against each other so all we can do is gauge how good we are against each other, which doesn't tell you a lot right now. They have gone against a great football program. They were on the road in front of 98,000 in a tough environment and they were able to learn a little about themselves against someone else. All we have is each other to this point and you may think you looked pretty good on defense one day, but maybe the offense wasn't that good on that day, or vice versa. There are just so many unknowns right now. We have several young kids who have never played a college football game and we don't know how they are going to react.

YOU HAVE HAD TO GO THROUGH A GUANTLET OF TEAMS FROM MAJOR CONFERENCES IN THE PAST. DOES A GAME AGAINST AKRON GIVE YOU A BETTER CHANCE TO START ON THE RIGHT FOOT? I think everyone wants to start off on the right foot, but Akron is coming from a conference with a lot of national recognition. They were 7-5 last year and they have a Heisman Trophy candidate at quarterback. It's game one and that's how we approach it. We know what kind of opponent we have, but the biggest opponent we have to win against is our football team. That's what we have to do, take care of the football and play hard.

WHAT TYPE OF PROBLEMS DOES FRYE PRESENT? Of all the major conferences we have played we have not seen a quarterback probably as good as the one we are going to see this week, including all the SECs, ACCs, Big 12s, Big Tens. We have played some good quarterbacks and this one is right up there with the best of them. I think our players saw Saturday how they were able to move the ball up and down the field, but just didn't score. As you go back to games last year they were ninth in the nation in offense and that's pretty good when you are averaging 470 yards a game. He can throw the football. He throws well on the run. He completed a lot of balls against Penn State (29-of-36 223 yards) and they moved the ball. It looked like what hurt them was the three turnovers. They have a big offensive line. He's as good as advertised and there's no doubt about that. We will be seeing him play on Sundays when this season is over. He can throw the football and when he gets in trouble he can run it. He has an NFL arm and makes good decisions. This is his fourth year starting. I guess he contemplated going out after last year and I can see why. I wish he would have.

HOW IMPORTANT IS THE BATTLE BETWEEN YOUR DEFENSIVE LINE AND AKRON'S OFFENSIVE LINE? It all starts up front with the physical part of the game. The defensive line will have a big challenge. They have four offensive linemen that played in a combined 90-plus games together and that's a big positive for them, especially with a quarterback of Frye's caliber. They were able to move the ball up and down the field against a Penn State team with a good defensive front so it's a big challenge for our defensive front.

WITH TROY WINNING AT MARSHALL AND FUTURE SUN BELT MEMBER FLORIDA ATLANTIC WINNING AT HAWAII, DOES THIS GAME PROVIDE A CHANCE TO FURTHER ENHANCE THE SUN BELT'S REPUTATION? No. 1, it's a chance to further enhance Middle Tennessee's football team. I tried to tell all of you (media) who write these stories all the time that Florida Atlantic is pretty good, so maybe a year after hearing all that we have had to hear (about losing to them on the final play last season) this opens some eyes that they are a very good football team. For Troy to go on the road and beat Marshall for the second straight year says a lot about our conference. Yes, for us to go on the road and represent our football team, No. 1, and to represent our conference is definitely a positive, especially against a very good MAC team. That's a conference with the Miami-Ohios, Toledos, Bowling Greens, and all the ones with a lot of national attention in the past.

IS THERE ANYTHING YOU CAN DO TO SIMULATE A FIRST GAME? No. We are going to play on field turf so we will contemplate whether we go on our turf or stay on grass. We have practiced enough and we are going to finish our work this week, go out and see where we are as a football team. You can't simulate a plane ride, can't simulate staying in a hotel bed. There is nothing we can really do but go play.

PLAYER QUOTES
DE Devarick Scandrett
On Akron
"We don't know much about them. I watched the [Penn State] game on TV Saturday. [The offensive line] has some big guys who like to get their hands on you and get position on you."

On the defensive line's progress
"We have worked very hard for two summers and want to show the coaches we are ready to be a leadership unit for our team."

On playing against someone else
"That's what I live for - laying the wood to the opponent. I'm excited and anxious to play this week."

WR Pedro Holiday
On playing against someone else
"We are excited to play someone else. We're all ready to play and tired of beating up on each other. It really gets the adrenaline going."

On the Akron defense
"They are very fast up-front and the defensive backs have a lot of experience. I think [LB Diontre] Earl really sticks out. He finds the ball well and has good sideline-to-sideline speed. He is really the key player on their defense."

On the MT quarterback situation
"We have two good quarterbacks. Josh Harris has a great deal of experience, and he has worked very hard over the summer to get bigger and stronger. Clint Marks is also a very good quarterback and can step in and start at any time."

LB Dennis Burke
On the MT defense
"We have to minimize mistakes. We have confidence in coach [Defensive Coordinator Bradley Dale] Peveto. We just have to produce. The defense has some different looks this year and we've picked them up well.

"You can study film all you want and know what to do in meetings, but you have to be able to step on the field and get things done without thinking, without hesitating and perform."

On taking a leadership role
"It really drives me to make sure that everything I do is to the best of my ability. There are a lot of people watching me and I have to pick other guys up and bring them along."

On the down linemen
"I've never been more excited about our front four than I am this year. They've all worked hard to gain weight, get stronger and faster. I'm excited to see what they can do."

On playing against someone else
"It's been a long camp, a long preseason. We were a little upset there was no game last week, but we're excited and anxious to play this week."

On Akron QB Charlie Frye
"He is an amazing quarterback. I haven't seen a quarterback of his caliber since I've been here. He finds receivers well, long and short, and they are able to put drives together. We have to be able to put some pressure on him."

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