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Quotes from Tuesday's football press luncheon

Blue Raiders open SBC play at ULL Saturday

September 21, 2010 · Athletic Communications

Head Coach Rick Stockstill

Opening comments: We did not protect the football the way we needed to last weekend at Memphis. There are some areas we need to improve, but the bottom line is if you do not protect the football, you do not deserve to win. With that being said, our kicking game still gave us the opportunity to win the game in the second half; we just did not get it done.

Our main objective is still out there, to win the Sun Belt Conference. We can do that. We are 0-0 in the conference. We had a good practice yesterday and I am looking forward to playing Louisiana-Lafayette on Saturday.

On level of concern regarding offensive injuries going into conference play: If you asked that question to any coach who is in this situation, he would say he is concerned. Injuries are going to happen throughout the course of the year. We know this. Our injuries happen to be mostly on the offensive line and not scattered around like you hoped they would be. If injuries happen you like it to be one here and one there. However, it is an opportunity for the guys behind them to step up and show what they can do. I am not going to make excuses; we have to do what we can to get better. We are coaching those guys. They are doing well. Jadareius Hamlin did a nice job when Mark (Fisher) went down. Josh Walker came in for Brandon McLeroy and I thought he did a nice job. But it is frustrating to deal with injuries this early in the season.

We will not get a final decision on Brandon McLeroy until Thursday. He did not practice yesterday or today. Mark Fisher is doubtful for Saturday, but it has not been determined.

On Sun Belt pre-season rankings now going into the first game of conference play: I have always said, pre-season rankings do not mean anything. The people who rank teams really do not know your team because each year everyone is different. Guys out there say, these players coming back, so this team must be pretty good. You do not put much stock or emphasis on pre-season rankings, because they do not mean anything. In this conference, everybody is the same. We are all about the same level and it is about who stays healthy.

On MT rushing offense against Louisiana-Lafayette's defense: They are really good on defense. They are a lot like us defensively in that they bring pressure from a lot of different places on the field. You are going to get a lot of pressure on any down. We did not run the ball very good last week, and we have to get better in that area.

Our game against Austin Peay kind of distorted our rushing numbers. We did not run well at all against Memphis and ran just okay against Minnesota. Most of our rushing numbers came against Austin Peay. I think it is a little bit distorted.

Against Memphis our quarterback missed a couple reads and we had some new lineman in there for the first time, so we lost some rushing yards because of that. Our backs missed a couple of cuts and reads that cost us. So it is not just one group's fault. I have confidence in our offensive line. Jimmy Ray Stephens has done a good job with them. I think those guys will get better as they gain more experience.

On Louisiana-Lafayette's tight end Ladarius Green: You have to make sure you know where he is all the time. He is really good in the passing game and really good in the running game. Usually you can't find a guy who is really good in both aspects, but Green is the total package. He has both of those capabilities. You have to know where he is on every snap.

On the death of former South Carolina WR Kenny McKinley: I recruited Kenny out of high school when I was at South Carolina. He was a wonderful human being with a great smile. He loved to practice, he loved to play. He was a great friend and teammate. I was as shocked and surprised as anyone when I heard the news last night. I have a deep sympathy for his family. I have a respect for him as a person and as a football player.

Defensive tackle Dwight Smith

On the expectations for the season after the first three games: Our expectations going into the season were to win the Sun Belt. We are still 0-0 and in perfect position to do what we set out to do at the beginning of the season.

On the offensive injuries: We have confidence in all of our back-ups. They get the same amount of reps in practice as the starters. Jadareius did a good job last week and so did Josh Walker and Evon Lettsome. Guys just have to step up and get it done.

On Louisiana-Lafayette's Chris Masson: We faced him last year. He is a good passer and a pretty decent runner. So we have to account for him in both areas. He is one of the top quarterbacks in our league.

On playing at Louisiana-Lafayette: There fan-base is very rowdy. They love their team just like we do here in Murfreesboro. They do their homework and know things you may not think they would know about you. They do a good job of making it a home field advantage for their team.

On stopping the Louisiana-Lafayette rushing attack: We cannot give up big plays. That has hurt us this year and in the past. Hopefully, we can execute our assignments and eliminate big plays.

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