Weekly football press luncheon quotesNovember 8, 2005 · MT Media Relations
Head Football Coach Andy McCollum
Are you getting involved in all the bowl talk involving Sun Belt teams?
"I'm involved in Louisiana-Monroe. We have a lot of season left. We have the leading team in the conference coming in this week and that's enough for us to worry about. The thing I'm most proud of is how this team has responded to three off weeks this season. To be able to stay focused through all of that says a lot about the character of the team."
How big is this week's game against Louisiana-Monroe in terms of winning the Sun Belt?
"It's our next game. One wins and one loses. That's enough said. It's a big opportunity for both teams. It's a big opportunity for our seniors who are playing their final home game. It's no hidden secret, this is a big football game for both teams. For this team to be in this position says a lot about them."
The offense has played much better the last four games. What's the difference?
"We have done good things on offense but we haven't been consistent. We were consistent Saturday. We didn't turn the ball over and we didn't make critical mistakes that hurt us. We had some guys step up and make some big plays. Clint Marks played one of his better games this season and showed the type of leader he is. We had some young receivers really step up and perform, like Taron Henry and Bobby Williams. Cleannord Saintil was a big producer. We did a good job with the ground game, especially considering the injuries we sustained during the game."
What are your impressions of Louisiana-Monroe quarterback Steven Jyles?
"Steven Jyles is a very good quarterback. He will be one of the best we have faced and we have faced some good ones. He's a three-year starter and he's leading our conference in total offense. We know it's a tough challenge. He's probably faster than (Vanderbilt quarterback) Jay Cutler, which is scary. He's one of the better players in our conference and one of the best in the country."
You talk about ball security. How important has that been in the offensive success of late?
"Depends on when the turnovers happen, but we have done a good job taking care of the ball. We are on the positive end of giveaways and takeaways and that's been a big key for our success over the last four games."
What will you remember about this senior class as they prepare for their final home game?
"It's a great class. It's a close class. They have been through ups and downs. When you look at their overall record it may not be great but the things they have done for this program means a lot. They have played a lot of BCS schools and that isn't talked about a lot. This group has lined up and played against the best in the country and they have done a lot to help our progress in Middle Tennessee."
QB Clint Marks
Talk about still having a chance to win the league and go to a bowl game at this point.
"We still have a chance. We are trying not to think about it and just take it one game at a time. We are trying to focus for a very good Louisiana-Monroe team. It's hard not to think about it but you can't look ahead."
What has been the biggest difference with the offense?
"We are more consistent and we haven't been hurting ourselves with the stupid penalties and the big turnovers."
The receivers really stepped up and made plays against Arkansas State, didn't they?
"Taron (Henry) had a good game. He has done a good job, as has Bobby Williams. I can't say enough about him and what he's done. Bobby made a great catch on his touchdown to give us a big lift."
How difficult has it been to gain consistency with three bye weeks?
"Three bye weeks in one year is tough. I think it has helped us because it allowed us to get back to the basics and really concentrate on the fundamentals and the little things."
Your thoughts on Louisiana-Monroe?
"UL-Monroe has great athletes, fast and they have done a good job over there the last few years that I have faced them. We have to be smart about what we are doing."
DL Quinton Staton
Talk about how this season has unfolded.
"It's definitely been a roller coaster ride but we are trying to finish on an upswing. Our goals are still in front of us but we have to focus on the game in front of us and not get caught looking ahead."
How big is this week's game in the big picure?
"Our focus is on Louisiana-Monroe and that's it. They have a lot of experience coming back and their veterans have done their job, while bringing along the young guys. Jyles is an excellent quarterback and our defense is in for a challenge. There's no doubt about that."
Your thoughts on the senior class?
"On my recruiting trip, Jeff Littlejohn was my host and we connected immediately. These guys take care of one another. We are close. I feel like I have been here four years instead of two."
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