Quotes from Tuesday's football press conference

Blue Raiders travel to WKU on Saturday

November 11, 2008 · Athletic Communications

MT Football Press Conference
Head Coach Rick Stockstill

Opening statement:
"We are very excited about this weekend's game against WKU. They are like most teams in the Sun Belt. They are a physical team, they have good size along the defensive front, and I think their secondary is the strength of their defense. They have done a good job of keeping the ball in front of them. Offensively it is no secret they are going to come out and try to run the ball. That's their bread-and-butter. Their quarterbacks are good runners; they throw the ball pretty well. They don't throw the ball a bunch but when they do they are pretty accurate."

Middle Tennessee has converted its last 13 red zone opportunities. What has led to the improvement in red zone chances? "We are starting to make the field goals when we get down there and that's good and bad. It's good because we are hitting those field goals when we have the opportunity but we obviously would like touchdowns instead of field goals but Alan (Gendreau) has done a good job in that area. I also think we have improved throughout the season and gained maturity and you are seeing that. When you get down there you have to come out with points and we have been doing that lately."

Press Conference
On the number of true freshmen starting and how those players have adapted this season: "Those are the guys we are playing and we are not playing them by choice. All of them are starting and they are out there because they have to be out there. That's just where we are with numbers and depth. You have five or six guys playing Division I football for the first time in their lives so we need them to play well because it's not like we can turn elsewhere if they aren't playing well. You start to expect more out of them at this point in the season because they have games under their belt but you have to remember they are still true freshmen."

QB Joe Craddock has not played against WKU. Does that factor into this week's game? "I don't think that has an effect either way. Joe (Craddock) couldn't go last year and Dwight (Dasher) really had not played much to that point. Joe had been hurt in the LSU game so he couldn't go in that game. I don't think Joe not playing in that game or Western having not played against Joe will make a difference either way."

Do you think WKU will be able to step into the Sun Belt and compete next year? "They are competing now. They are ready for it. This will be their third signing class for Division I, they are at a full allotment of scholarships and they will be ready. I think they are more than ready to come into the league and compete next year."

WKU QB David Wolke has been injured somewhat. If Wolke can't play does it change what WKU does? "They don't change their offensive philosophy based on which quarterback is in the game. David has played in a bunch of games, he's a senior, so they may lose some leadership and that stuff, but I don't see a big difference if he is not able to play because they have good players and don't change what they do based on that. Both of their quarterbacks are good."

On Middle Tennessee's rushing game:
"I feel sorry for Phillip Tanner. You watch the passion and effort and conviction he runs with and it is inspiring. Next year he will run behind a much better offensive line than he is this year. I just love the way he competes. He is a very unselfish player. We have to run the ball better and I know that. We are working our tail off every week to do that. I wake up every Saturday morning hoping this is the game (Tanner) gets 200 yards or (Desmond Gee) gets 150 yards or more, or this is the day our offensive line really does a good job in the run game. That's what I wake up thinking about on game day."

LB Danny Carmichael
On last year's WKU game:
"Defensively we did not play well and we didn't get off the field on third downs. That really hurt our chances to win the game. I think we beat ourselves last year and it shows on film. I don't think we played well as a defense and I hope this year is a different story."

Do you feel like Middle Tennessee has something to prove at WKU after losing to them last year? "WKU has played the bigger teams like we have. They have played most teams in our conference and played them close. I think WKU deserves to be in the Sun Belt, why not?"

Last year members of the team didn't talk much about this being a rival game. Has that mindset changed a year later? "I have played against WKU once and they beat us. I think all games are important and each game is as big as the others. It could be looked at as rivalry game but we look at every game as carrying significance."

RB Phillip Tanner
Is the long run one person away?
"I think so. I feel it is that way but I love playing football. It doesn't matter if it's an 80-yard run or fourth-and-one run. Personally I prefer the fourth-and-one because that shows someone had confidence to hand you the ball in that situation. My big thing is trying to help the team and doing whatever it takes to help accomplish that."

WKU celebrated on your field last year after the win. Does that add to the rivalry? "I don't look at that stuff. This game is no bigger than others we have played. I see it as another football game. There is no difference in WKU, Troy, North Texas, so on as far as rivalry. They are all big games and important games. It's another football game. It really is."

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