Quotes from today's football press conference

Blue Raiders preparing for Minnesota

August 27, 2010 · Athletic Communications
Video: Weekly Press Conference

Head Coach Rick Stockstill

On Minnesota
We are excited to play Minnesota. Our continuity of the practices has not been ideal this year because we have had a few cancelled due to weather and a few more that occurred during the last part of summer school. So not every practice was as a great as we would have liked, but I feel confident that we have had a good camp. We are not where we need to be right now, but we continue to get closer each day.

Minnesota is a great challenge for us. They are going to be a lot bigger than we are on both sides of the ball. That is a concern up-front for me. We have some injuries on the offensive and defensive line so I am really concerned with that part of the game.

I think it will be special night. Our players are excited about the challenge of Minnesota. They are a good football team with recent bowl experience. It will be a great challenge.

On Dwight Dasher's current state after the NCAA violation
He is doing well. Obviously, he is very disappointed at the moment. The team has rallied around him. He is has been humbled with this situation and knows he made a mistake. That is part of your responsibility as a coach to help these players grow as people.

On naming a replacement starter for Thursday's game against Minnesota
No starter has been named because we still have work to do. Today (Friday) is like Sunday in a normal game week, so we have a little time. We have a pretty good idea of who it is going to be, but not sure yet.

On offensive changes as a results of Dwight Dasher's suspension
It changes things a little bit. Both our quarterbacks are good enough to do what we want to do offensively. Each of them is a little different in their strengths and weaknesses.

Where Dwight could carry the ball 15 to 20 times a game, the others cannot do it quite as much, but both can run the ball. We will still run the ball with the quarterback and our passing game will not change.

On carrying last year's momentum into the 2010 season
What we accomplished last year does not guarantee us anything this year. What we gained from last season is the knowledge that if you want to accomplish your true goals there is a level to have to work. We are more confident now than this time last year. They are not overconfident. From a psychological standpoint, it definitely helps.

On Minnesota's plan to present a run-heavy offensive scheme being a prototypical Big Ten style
Ohio State is using more spread formations and Illinois is a spread team. Big Ten teams are evolving and Minnesota will get in the spread and throw and try to run out of a one back set. When you think of the Big Ten you think of the old-school mentality of "Three yards and a cloud of dust."

On Middle Tennessee's coaches having previous Big Ten coaching experience
Both Mike (Schultz) and Randall (McCray) played against Minnesota last year, so they have live experiences while I have only seen them on tape. From a personnel standpoint it will help more than from a philosophical standpoint.

On importance of season opener
Our season is not determined by how we play against Minnesota. I am going to take it one game at a time, like I always have. Yes, it would be a great win for our program if we were fortunate to come out on top, but we have to execute and do the little things that give us an opportunity to win. We are going to be down a couple of players that we normally count on so it will be important for some backups to step up.

On dividing up practice reps between quarterbacks
Jeff (Murphy) and Logan (Kilgore) will get the majority of the practice reps this week. But it's like the NFL bringing in four and five quarterbacks into camps because one or two guys can't put up all the throws everyday. It can wear a players arm out. Dwight is still going through individual work; work with the receivers and some of the seven-man skeleton work. When we go to the team it is all Logan and Jeff.

On team distraction of Dwight Dasher
The day I told the team, it was a distraction. I did not have enough information to tell the facts. After that first day it has not been a distraction. Dwight has since talked to the team. Dwight is a great player, but we are not all Dwight. We talk about having a chip on our shoulder. You want to be the best in America and prove it every time you play. These players need this chip so they can prove this team is more than just Dwight Dasher. We have accepted this challenge and will rally behind Dwight.

On the defensive front
We will not have a final answer to the quality of our defense until Thursday night. I know our returning starters are going to show up because they have proved this to me. However, I do not know about some of our other players who have not started until I see them in a game situation.

On Special Teams
We focus on special teams at Middle Tennessee more than any place I have been. Last year we gave up two big returns, but some of that you have to give credit to a first-round draft pick (C.J. Spiller). We kicked it bad, but I take the blame for that. We were second in the country in blocked kicks and in the top two or three in Sun Belt special team stats.

Senior RB Phillip Tanner
On effects of not having Dwight Dasher
Dwight is a great, great player but I do not think it affects us that much. We are still going to play the way we play and stick to our game plan. At the end of the day we are still going to have to go out there and give it our all no matter who is under center. We have a great group of seniors and it will be up to us to lead the way.

On playing in a primetime game
We have to prove all the reports right that we should open the season in primetime. We are not the same time as last year that won the New Orleans Bowl. Coach tells us to play with a chip on our shoulder and prove last year was not the best team we have ever had. We want our senior class to be the best. Last year was a great season, but we have to play another 12 games.

On returning from injury
The hardest thing to deal with is the anxiousness. It is fun to get back out there with a great group of guys. Playing with an injury is the last thing on my mind. I go out and give 100 percent and laugh and have a good time. I am excited about Thursday night.

Senior DT Dwight Smith
On Minnesota's offensive line
The Big in the Big Ten is true. They have big players, but we take it as a challenge. People see our height and weight and think we are going to roll over. We take it and play with a chip. They are a great offensive line who welcomes back all of their returning starters. I feel if we play correct technique, we can have some success.

On Defensive Coordinator's experience against the Big Ten
Coach (Randall) McCray has a lot of knowledge about what Minnesota is going to come in here and do. I think the game plan is based off his knowledge and his experience of playing them.

On the atmosphere at Thursday's game
I hope it is soldout. As a freshman class, we said we wanted to sell out the stadium and we hope to accomplish this before we leave and there is not a better time than Thursday night.

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