Quotes from Tuesday's football press conference
Blue Raiders preparing for Dec. 3 showdown at ULLNovember 25, 2008 · Athletic Communications
Middle Tennessee Press Conference
Head Coach Rick Stockstill
"This is our final game of the year and I am very proud of our football team and how they have responded this year. The last three games we have played at a higher level and it's a testament to them and their ability to stick with it. We have a great opportunity against Louisiana-Lafayette and it's also a great challenge. They are one of the best rushing teams in the country. They have two 1,000-yard rushers in their backfield so it's going to be a challenge for our defensive front. It is going to be a physical game and toughness will be at a premium."
Is your current three-game win streak based on your team's progress or opponent(s)' you have played during that stretch? "One, I think you look at the ULM game. Their record is not so hot but they took Arkansas to the wire and beat Alabama last year. Beating them was not indicative of playing a bad team. Playing WKU up there in those conditions and in that game, we played better than those guys. Against North Texas we scored a lot of points and didn't give up a lot of points but I think it's one of the worst games we have played in the last five. We missed assignments and we were not as good as we needed to be overall, but I'm glad we won. We have played well the last five games and I don't think it's indicative of other teams' records."
On the possibility of becoming bowl eligible with a win vs. Louisiana-Lafayette. "They know the ramifications. They are not blind or deaf and they know what is going on out there. They know we have to take care of business. If we don't beat UL-Lafayette then it doesn't matter. We have to keep our eyes on the prize and take care of business. It's a one game at a time season and that's how we are approaching it."
On UL-Lafayette also having a chance to become bowl eligible with a win: "They have a lot to play for. I told our team that however this thing works out we are playing a team that can get bowl eligible and possibly share for the conference championship. We will get their best shot, I assure you that. We have to be ready to go."
On QB Joe Craddock's record-breaking season: "As a coach you don't go into the season thinking about guys breaking records. I just hoped our guys (at quarterback) would play to their potential. At the quarterback position I just want them to move the chains and get us in the end zone and Joe (Craddock) has done that. He has been great. He is a fifth-year senior, he has experience and he is playing at a really high level. I'm happy and proud for him because he has worked hard to be in this position."
LB Danny Carmichael
On Louisiana-Lafayette's running attack, coupled with a strong passing game: "They are going to be the best we have played so far this year. We were able to stop them early last year but we left up and they came back, got the offense going and ended up beating us"
On the possibility of becoming bowl eligible: "We can't get there unless we win this game so there is no need to talk about it now. It's our championship game and it is for them as well. Both teams have a lot to play for so it should be a championship-type atmosphere because both teams have a lot at stake and the winner gets all the rewards."
RB Phillip Tanner
What did the breakout rushing performance vs. North Texas do for the confidence of the offense? "Of course it is a confidence builder but if you go back and look at the film you will see a lot of missed assignments and I had a lot of those. There is a great deal to improve. No doubt, though, the confidence is up for our offense after a game like that."
On the offense and how a performance such as Saturday's vs. North Texas helps the defense: "It is always good to keep the defense fresh and off the field. Going three-and-out really hurts the defense so our focus is on sustained drives and helping our defense."
On needing a win in the finale to become bowl eligible: "There is no pressure. We have to play to the best of our ability. We are either going to be bowl eligible or not and the only way we are going to do that is to win. Everybody watches ESPN and knows what it means and takes to be bowl eligible. We just had to keep working and playing hard and we knew things would work out. To this point we have done that and the result has been three straight wins."
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