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A Q&A with quarterbacks coach Buster Faulkner

Faulkner excited about tempo and quarterback position

April 28, 2011 · Athletic Communications

Buster Faulkner came to Middle Tennessee in January as both the quarterbacks coach and the passing game coordinator. He played his high school football at Parkview HS in Gwinnett County, next to Stone Mountain, GA, where he quarterbacked his team to a state championship. Faulkner played QB and coached at Valdosta State, and also coached at Central Arkansas and most recently at Murray State where he was Offensive Coordinator. He will be in charge of quarterbacks and the passing game for the Blue Raiders.

GBR.com talked to Coach Faulkner at the end of spring practice to get his impressions overall, and specifically on those two areas of the game.

GBR.com: Coach, you have two QBs that have a total of less than four games of experience between them. How do you evaluate the QB situation?

FAULKNER: I'm real excited about the opportunity to coach both Logan (Kilgore) and Jeff (Murphy). They are both very knowledgeable and eager to learn, key things that you have to have at the QB position. They are highly competitive, and both were very successful in junior college. They are not your typical junior college-type players. They are guys that could have gone on right out of high school, and played other places, but wanted to go on to junior college and get re-recruited, and have a chance to play at a higher level. Both of them were right on with their decision. They are excited about it. Both of them bring something different to the table, and I think we can win a lot of ball games with both of them.

GBR.com: Does it concern you that the team came out of spring practice without a clear number one quarterback?

FAULKNER: That doesn't bother me at all. Both of them were able to throw roughly 530 balls apiece against the defense, in some shape or form, this spring, and that's a bunch of reps. I think one of them was 530 and the other was 533 as far as passing attempts against the defense. When you can rep two guys like that, that's great. Normally, that is what one guy gets, but both of them were able to get that many. I feel like that is going to help both of them in their development over the summer and leading into the first game next year.

And playing QB, you need 10 to 14 days to get ready for the first game. We'll make a decision (on the starter) when the time is right.

GBR.com: When Coach Stockstill talked to you about the coaching vacancy here, what was the nature of the discussion about the up-tempo offense? Did he approach you because of your success with it, or did you contact him because you liked what was already in place here?

FAULKNER: When the job opened, I kind of recruited Coach Stock, and it was kind of a mutual deal there. I was really excited about the opportunity to work for him. After meeting him, and having a chance to sit down with him, I just felt an instant connection and bond with him. As far as the offense goes, he had been running a spread offense since he'd been here, and that's all I had ever really been around and done. I've been a part of the fast tempo before, so this spring was nothing new. Coach Stock has a great vision of what he wants, and I believe in the same things he believes in as far as the way the offense should be run. That was part of the process in me coming here. I'm excited about it. I love the way we practice. I have been a part of fast-paced offenses before, but our tempo here after the ball is snapped is the most impressive I have seen.

Not only are we fast in between plays, but once the ball is snapped, everybody is playing hard and playing fast, and that is a direct reflection on Coach Stock.

GBR.com: The other side of a successful passing game, obviously, is the receivers. Give your impression of the Blue Raider receivers after spring practice.

FAULKNER: In every offense I have been a part of, including the great ones, there are going to be dropped balls. When you throw it 50 times a game, you are going to have a dropped ball or two. I don't believe in ever really talking about it with the kids. They are expected to make the catch, and they know it. That is why they are receivers. We do talk about it as quarterbacks. On certain plays, one receiver may be better than another receiver. On another play, the other one may be better. We have to do a good job of defining their roles, and as a QB, you have to know who to go to on certain plays.

That is the good thing about having two real cerebral QB's. They understand all of that. They don't just understand that they have to throw the ball, they understand what the offensive line has got to do, what the receivers have got to do, what all 11 guys on defense should be doing. That's what makes it fun, coaching guys like that who have a great understanding about the whole scheme of things.

GBR.com: Can you talk a little bit about the two incoming freshmen QB's?

FAULKNER: The little bit I've seen on Shaun White and Timmy Byerly indicates they are both highly competitive, and have won at very high levels in their respective states. One is a state champion, the other was a semi-finalist. They are winners, and that's the biggest thing with quarterbacks, you want guys that have won and are willing to pay the price, and they have already done that. They both bring something a little different to the table.

From what I've seen of Shaun, he can definitely move, he's athletic, real strong, live arm and just off of what I have seen, he may have the upper hand as far as arm strength and all of that goes, but that doesn't mean anything. At the end of the day, it's about making good decisions, going to the right place with the football, understanding things.

Timmy was a State Champion in Georgia, he's got a good arm, makes good decisions, just not quite as strong, but like I said, that really is not what matters.

I am real excited about both of them.

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