Quotes from today's football press conference
Blue Raiders face ASU on ESPN2October 26, 2010 · Athletic Communications
Middle Tennessee Head Coach Rick Stockstill
Opening Comments: We have Arkansas State a week from today. They are second in the conference in most offensive categories (Scoring, Passing Yards and Total Offense). They are doing a few things differently from last year. Their tempo is a lot faster and they are throwing the ball more than what they did last year. They have a receiver who is second in the league with 46 catches. Their quarterback is doing a good job protecting the football while throwing 13 touchdowns and only seven interceptions. Our defense is going to face an offense that is very diverse and balanced in a lot of respects.
The strength of their defense is their front four. They have two outstanding players upfront including Brian Hall, who is second in the conference in sacks and tackles for loss behind Jamari (Lattimore). Their ends are fast outside and their linebackers run well. They have an experienced secondary. Their cornerback Adrian Hills was named Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Week because he had two interceptions, one taken back for a touchdown.
It will be a great challenge. It is always hard playing Arkansas State on the road. It is a long bus ride. They will be jazzed up. We have to make sure we have a great week of practice and be prepared.
On two teams who play a fast offensive style: It helps in your preparation for both defenses. Our defense sees it everyday and I am sure their defense sees it everyday as well. It helps because unlike Georgia Tech two weeks ago, we could not simulate their offense. Once you get in the game, it comes down to stops. Our defense has got to get stops, especially on first down to hopefully get them in long yardage situations on third down. I am sure their coaches are saying the same things about us.
On the possibility of a high scoring game because of the fast offensive tempo: I hope it is not a shoot out but I have confidence our defense will play well. Their games have been close. They had a close, high-scoring game against Indiana as well as a close game against Troy. They have been in some close games. I hope it does not come down to a shoot out, because if it does then we have to be prepared to win the game in that manner.
On the strategy of using two punters: We have used Josh (Davis), who is a straight and rugby style punter to the left. Nate (Toulson) is right footed, so we have rugby punted him the right and punted him down the middle. We have a lot of confidence in both of them. It presents an additional problem that the other team has to work on.
When you have a right footed punter that you rugby, you can rugby to the right, punt down the middle or fake. Now you have to prepare for all of those and a left-footed rugby kicker. It gives the opposing team something else they have to prepare for.
On the defensive secondary getting two interceptions against ULM and the confidence they gained: I think our secondary has played well all year. We have been very close on getting some interceptions. Our depth is about the same. We have gained more confidence in Eric Russell after looking at him for seven games. Derrick Crumpton is really playing at a high level. T.L. Edward is continuing to play more. We are a little deeper at the safety and corner position than we were in the first few games.
On having extra days to prepare and rest for Arkansas State: It is nice, but I do not know if two or three days are going to help our injuries. Our guys that are hurt are not going to get better until after the season. We do not have an ankle injury or a thigh bruise. We have knees and shoulders that are going to take time to heal. It does help because it gives you more opportunity to rest your body and mind.
On playing on national television: Any time you give your team a chance to play on television, its a good thing. It will be a great challenge and a great opportunity. To me it is not a chance to redeem ourselves from the last game, but to play better and win this game. It is critical we play well.
On the team's disrupted schedule after playing multiple midweek games: I think it is always disruptive. Players and coaches are creatures of habit. Sunday is your day off, Monday you are in shorts, Tuesday you practice and so on. It is disruptive, but we have a plan. We like to know what time we eat, what time is practice and what time we play. Early in the year I talked about how we have five Saturdays where we do not play. It is what it is.
On going on the road to play in a blackout national televised game: We will not get caught up in their blackout or playing on ESPN. Our only focus is to go there and play well. They have a cracker box locker room, their fans are right on top of you, it is a long bus trip and we know all this. We are prepared for all that. We are focused on what we can control. This is a big game for us. We are going to get their best shot and they will get our best shot.
On a possibly developing rivalry with Arkansas State: All conference games are rivalries. The most important conference game you play is the one you play this week. To say this game is a rivalry and you get jacked up for this one and not the next one is not good football. I do not get caught up in all that. Every game is important no matter if it is on ESPN and Blackout or not. Black jerseys do not help you score points.
Offensive tackle Mark Fisher
On playing in a blackout game on the road: When you go into an opponent's stadium, you have to be ready to play your best. We are not going to get caught up that it is on ESPN and everything else. We just go in and do what we have to do.
On Arkansas State being a difficult place to play: They have a slick field and the fans are right on top of you. As a mature team you have to block them out and do what you have to do. We just have to worry about Middle Tennessee.
On the progression of the offensive line replacing Mike Williams: Jesse (Grishman) and Jadareius (Hamlin) have gotten better every game. For Jesse to come in and fill Mike's position was great. I am really proud of them. I am sure he will get better this week in practice. He will get the job done.
Defensive tackle Dwight Smith
On what late season games mean as far as bowl games and conference championships: We do not focus on that stuff. We just go out and try to win and let the bowl stuff handle itself. We just want to win every game left on our schedule. Any given Saturday anyone can be beat. We are one Troy loss away from tying for the conference lead and two Troy losses away from leading the conference. We just go out and do what we can do to control our own destiny.
On playing in a blackout game on the road: This does not affect us at all. I honestly thought Arkansas State wore black jerseys every game anyway. It is for their fans. They are not going to score more points because they wear black. We will not be intimidated by black jerseys.
On the improvement of the pass rush against ULM: We had a great week in practice as a whole. We came out everyday and worked out butts off. We will go out and do the same thing this week.
On playing a faster tempo offense: Going against our offense everyday at practice helps with the tempo we may face on a given week. We have one of the fastest offenses in the country. At least it seems that way in practice.
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