Weekly football press luncheon quotesSeptember 27, 2005 · MT Media Relations
HEAD COACH ANDY MCCOLLUM
Has the bye week afforded this team an opportunity to separate itself from the frustration of the 0-3 start?
"During the bye week we went back to work, and I really thought we had a good work week. We went back to the basics and worked on fundamentals. We focused on the things we need to do in order to help ourselves. I think our players went about the week with a great attitude and they are ready to play another game."
Are you glad this rivalry has been renewed?
"I'm glad the game has been renewed. I don't know if it's a rivalry to our players. It's two great Universities located 32 miles apart and it's another opportunity for us to play a SEC team, which is already a challenge, and it's a first-place team in the SEC."
Your thoughts on Vanderbilt?
"They have an outstanding football team with a lot of weapons. (QB) Jay Cutler is doing to be a top-round draft choice. He can throw it, run, he's a great leader, his receivers make a lot of plays for him. The offensive line is like previous Vanderbilt offensive lines, big, big, big. It's just a very good all-around team, very good on offense, solid on defense and in special teams. That's why they are 4-0."
Did you see this coming as far as Vanderbilt's improvement and the season they are having based on the players they were getting through recruiting?
"I think they have done a very good job recruiting. We run into them a lot in Georgia, Florida and Alabama, and their staff does a good job of getting good players."
Your team is a 17-point underdog in this game. How do you handle the role of underdog?
"Every time we play a SEC team we are an underdog. Our kids don't worry about how big of an underdog they are. They are competitors and we certainly aren't worried about a point spread. If those meant anything why even go play the game?
How big of a challenge does Vanderbilt present?
"It's probably the 23rd BCS team we have played. We have played Vanderbilt before and some of these guys were not in this game and some of their players were not. Our kids are hungry for a win. This will be a tough environment against a team playing very well, and we expect to have a lot of Middle Tennessee fans there, too. We have had three tough losses against three good football teams. We have to cut down our mistakes and see what happens."
How impressed are you with the play of Vanderbilt's linebackers?
"They have very good linebackers. Moses Osemwegie is very fast and he's an excellent player. Moses is a fourth-year starter who makes a lot of plays, plays fast and he played with a great deal of character. He's a really good SEC linebacker."
Has the bye week allowed you to kind of start over with this game after the tough start?
"We can't worry about yesterday. We are not dealing with negatives. We are getting ready for this game. We let a game or two get away from us but all we can do is worry about the next one. We are going to fight for each other. This is our next opportunity. Any win right now will be big and it doesn't matter who we are playing."
DEFENSIVE LINEMAN QUINTON STATON
What have you seen from Vanderbilt's offense in preparing for this game?
"They are a balanced team. They execute real well and they make plays. We have to be prepared against a very good team."
Your thoughts on Vanderbilt QB Jay Cutler?
"Cutler is a first-round draft pick. He can run it, throw it, and he's a good leader. I think he's a very good player."
Are you concerned about being 17-point underdogs?
"We try not to worry about being underdogs. We are trying to get our first win. If anyone is worried about being an underdog they shouldn't make the trip."
Vanderbilt is sky high right now. How fun would it be to go in there and rain on their parade?
"It would be real fun to do that, but we want to win for coach 'Mac.' With all the stuff he has been going through he has kept a positive attitude and tried to keep us positive, so it would mean a lot for us to get him this win."
QUARTERBACK CLINT MARKS
Do you know many of Vanderbilt's players on a personal level?
"I really don't know too much about individual players they have. We went there and played 7-on-7 against them a couple of times, but that's about it. I do know they have a good team, they are playing well, and it's going to be a challenge."
Has the bye week allowed you to start over?
"It's hard to forget what has happened but we have to turn the page. We didn't start the season the way we wanted but we have had a good bye week and we need to have another good week of practice this week."
How big would a win be in this game?
"We are looking forward to this game. Any first win is big no matter who you are playing, but we are looking forward to playing Vanderbilt. We are going to go there and give it our best."
How are you handling losing senior Chris Henry to injury, as well as some others, and having to throw to basically sophomores and freshmen?
"We have a lot of good receivers on this team. I have a lot of trust in all of them, and I think we will be just fine."
Your thoughts on being heavy underdogs against Vanderbilt?
"It's nothing new for us. We have played several SEC teams and we always are the underdog. We are going to give it our best shot, but we are not scared of being underdogs. We feel like we can win. We work hard, just like they do. They are 4-0 and we are 0-3. That doesn't mean we can't win or they have more heart than us."
Can Middle Tennessee win scoring just seven points a game?
"Our defense is playing very well. Offensively, we are going to have to start scoring more than seven points a game to win, though. The offense has not been gelling and once we do I think the defense is going to play even better than they have been."
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