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Quotes from Monday's football press conference

September 13, 2004 · MT Media Relations

ANDY MCCOLLUM PRESS CONFERENCE QUOTES
OPENING REMARKS:
Coming off what we consider a big win at Akron, I couldn't be more proud going into a game against a quality opponent out of the MAC Conference, representing MiddleTennessee and our university and the Sun Belt Conference, of how our kids responded and how they won the game. I thought it was real important. One thing I saw was this team never panicked and that's because of their work ethic, what they put into it and how they pulled closer together through the negative and adversity we all have had to deal with. The biggest thing we have going right now is we didn't play well in a lot of areas. It's a great teaching film. It's great teaching after a win. We are going to learn to enjoy wins around here but the page is turned (Monday). We know areas where we have to improve and we are going to have to show a lot of improvement from the first game to the second game on both sides of the football. We have a great team coming in here. Today we will focus on Middle Tennessee and getting done what we have to get done to get better coming out of a big road win at Akron.

AFTER STARTING THE LAST FEW SEASONS WINLESS AFTER HAVING TO GO UP AGAINST THE SEC, HOW MUCH BETTER DOES IT FEEL TO COME IN HERE WITH A WIN AFTER THE FIRST GAME?
It feels good for one reason, for these kids. It's about what they are putting into this program, what they have had to go through for the last two years, what they have had to listen to, so to see them step up and have success against a quality team on the road is rewarding. The thing I appreciate today about being 1-0 is our backs were against the wall and the kids came off the wall. They didn't get pushed back into it. We were able to get some turnovers. If you would have told me going into it that we were going to turn the ball over four times against a MAC team, I would not have thought we would have had a shot and that's a credit to our defense making stands at times, and to our offense answering the bell when we went down.

FLORIDA ATLANTIC HAS BEATEN TWO GOOD TEAMS IN THE FIRST TWO WEEKS AND BEAT THEM ON THE ROAD. WHAT DOES THAT TELL YOU ABOUT THEM?
Tells me the same thing I told you guys a year ago, they are a good football team. When everyone was making fun of our kids, our program, in a game we should have won, I told you that was a quality football team we were beaten by. They are a year older now and they were three years old then. That means these guys have started four straight years. It's no shock to us when a team goes and wins 12 games (in 2003), that they beat Hawaii at Hawaii and North Texas at North Texas. It's no shock at all because we know what kind of athletes they have, what kind of staff they have and what kind of team they have. We know what we face going in, but now I think everyone else does.

YOU WERE BEAT BY FLORIDA ATLANTIC LAST YEAR ON THE LAST PLAY OF THE GAME. IS REVENGE A MOTIVATING FACTOR?
No. This game is not about last year. This is another team we are coaching right now. It's not the same team we coached last year. This is about our next game, which is game No. 2 against a really good football team that has done things they need to do on the road. They beat two quality teams on the road.

FLORIDA ATLANTIC HAS HAD THE SAME STARTERS, MORE OR LESS, FOR THE PAST FOUR YEARS. HOW MUCH OF A BENEFIT IS THAT FROM A COACH'S PERSPECTIVE?
That doesn't happen too many places. They lost one starter on defense so those guys have played four years together. Offensively they are in the same situation. Then, as far as scheme and coaches, continuity and familiarity, it says a lot. Those kids have played more than 40 games together and that's a plus for any program.

HOW EXCITED ARE YOUR PLAYERS TO BE COMING HOME 1-0?
They are excited about coming home. They are excited about winning on the road, but they know we have a tough week ahead of us. We have a lot of corrections to make, but we are excited to come into our stadium and hopefully play in front of our home crowd. We hope it's a plus for us. We want it to be an edge for us. I'll be honest with you, last weekend at Akron did not feel like a road game to us because behind our bench there were more Middle Tennessee people than Akron people. You talk about a good feeling for your players when they come out to play and to look up there and see all the blue in the stands. The crowd didn't bother us. I would like to see our crowd bother a team coming into our stadium and we need them this week because of the quality team we are playing.

EVALUATE THE PLAY OF THE OFFENSIVE LINE.
I thought they did well. Offensive linemen don't get a lot of credit sometimes, but I was very proud of Marcus Gates. He was going into his first game as a starting center and didn't have one bad snap. As a unit, we had one holding call and we were offsides once. Quinton (Staton) stepped in there (at left guard) and did a good job. I thought they protected really well. We still have a long way to go. Problem is we only played five the whole game so we have to have a couple more guys step up because five playing the whole game this whole season is going to be tough on us.

DO YOU EXPECT TO PLAY BOTH QUARTERBACKS THIS WEEK?
Yes, both quarterbacks will play.

DO YOU ANTICIPATE HAVING TO PUT UP A CERTAIN NUMBER OFFENSIVELY TO WIN THIS GAME?
Florida Atlantic is very good on defense. I think you are going to see a pretty good defensive battle. We don't go into games saying what type of numbers we have to have, but Florida Atlantic really flies around on defense. They are also good on offense and they have so much speed. Defensively, they get off blocks, they run to the ball, but they have great, great speed. I don't look at numbers. I just look at making sure we have one more point than the opponent.

IS THE ATTITUDE DIFFERENT THIS MONDAY THAN IN PAST SEASONS?
Of course, winning helps. Half the teams that played last weekend lost so it's great to be coming off a win. This is what I believe as a coach, you want your kids to do as well as they can. We faced the unknown last Saturday because we had not played a game. Akron had an advantage in that area because they had played a game to get the wrinkles out. Akron was a better team this week than they were the week before because they had the game under their belt. Now I want to see the same improvement out of our football team in practice this week. I want to see our coaches take it to another level this week.

PLAYER QUOTES

QB Clint Marks
On both quarterbacks playing in each game
"I am very comfortable with the situation. We'll both prepare and work hard in practice. We compete and make each other better in practice each week. We just want to win and I am his biggest supporter when he is in the game and I think he feels the same way when I'm in there.

On Florida Atlantic
"They have a lot of speed. I remember that from last year. They have a lot of guys back, all the starters on defense, and they're a great team.

On the side receivers
"Going into the season all you've heard about is Kerry Wright. But I think the other guys showed that he is not all we have. We have a whole core of guys who can make plays.

On getting a win over Florida Atlantic
"The loss last year was a tough one. We put that behind us. This is a new year and a new team. They're rolling right now and it would be a great win if we could beat them.

WR Chris Henry
On both quarterbacks playing
"I think both quarterbacks do the same thing - scanning the defense and finding the open receiver. My job is to catch the ball and I don't care who is throwing it.

On last year's Florida Atlantic loss
"We don't speak on that. We know we shouldn't have lost that game. They got lucky at the end and came out with a win. The loss really killed our team.

"They're a good team, give them credit. We just have to play to the best of our abilities.

On starting the season with a win
"It's good to come home. It's a totally different story this year, beating a good MAC team to start the year. It's a big confidence builder.

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