Quotes from Today's Football Press ConferenceNovember 5, 2001 · MT Media Relations
We know it is a very tough environment. We've been in some tough environments before, though. This may be the toughest. Florida was tough, The Swamp wasn't real fun. Mississippi State with the cowbells wasn't the greatest, either. When you're growing up people always talk about playing at LSU in the Tiger Den, so this is what college football is all about. It gives us an opportunity to take our families down there and turn it loose and go play. It doesn't have anything to do with the conference. We're just playing one of the best college teams in America and we're going to turn it loose and see how we do.
McCollum on preparing for LSU's offense
They're a balanced team. They have great running backs, too. Our biggest challenge is to not give them anything. They have talent and they're really a Top 25 team. That's what we're going against. Let's go down there and fight and scratch. We're going to put our talent up and see where we stand. They've got weapons everywhere. When you're recruiting the top five in America every year then it usually shows on the field, and it does for them. They're a well-coached team and they play very well at home. When you look at the schedule and see that you're playing LSU at LSU then you know its going to be tough. It is going to be tough, but what else would we be doing on Saturday. Let's go play one of the top teams in the country. We've got a good team, too. We've won seven games. We'll play hard and throw it out there and see if we can shock anybody.
McCollum on defensive improvement
I'm never satisfied about anything. We've got a lot of improvement to do in a lot of areas. I want us to go down there and play hard and play together as a team. That's what I like about this team. They're a close team that really cares about each other. We'll line up and the staff will look forward to it and the team will look forward to it, and we'll play in a tough environment and we'll see how good we can get.
McCollum on Rod Higgins
I thought he did some good things Saturday, but its time for him to. I expected this about a year earlier from Rod. He need to continue growing up because we need some help back there [at cornerback]. We hadn't been getting the production that we need back there. Rod came in and did some good things, but he's got to continue to get better. This is expected when you sign somebody and put him on scholarship. This is what you expect them to do. It's his time and he needs to keep stepping up and getting better for the next game.
McCollum on special teams
There's no doubt that we have to win in this area to have a chance this week. They have great returners and they have great speed on their special teams. When you play this type of team, you can hurt yourself there. You would like to do some things to help, but you have to be careful not to hurt yourself. We need to turn it loose and play. We need to do some things this week on special teams and come up with some things to help ourselves. We need to find some ways to cause them problems. We're very sound, but at the same time, we have to turn loose and play and try to make things happen in the special teams game. I'm very proud of special teams. I'm proud of my kicker, Brian Kelley. Brad Cooper did well after the first couple of kicks. Robert Billings has been good all year. The punt block team came up big at a key point in the game. We got two two-point conversions out of our spread. Everything we do on special teams is trying to find a way to score. This game is very important in a game like this.
McCollum on different looks in the kicking game
We try to do things on offense, defense, and especially special teams to make teams have to do more to prepare for us. We are a very high tempo team, a very fast-paced team, and we want to maintain that pace on special teams. We want teams to have to find us on offense and we want them to find us on special teams, and if they don't then we want to find a way to exploit it. We're always looking for ways to score when we have the ball. We want to put point on the board with every snap and that means special teams, too.
DL Tanaka Scott
On the North Texas-New Mexico State game: "I got excited when there was a minute to go and New Mexico State was winning, 20-16. But then one of my teammates told me North Texas came back and won and I was a little disappointed. We have to get help from somebody and that's what we're waiting on."
On preparing for LSU: "We have to prepare like it's a normal week, but the bowl game is in the back of our head. It's a big challenge for us defensively. They have a wide-open offense and we have to contain the quarterback and put pressure on him. We've played some running teams the last few weeks and had to make some plays to force them to pass. And our secondary has done a great job covering the pass."
On going to a bowl game: "I would give it two thumbs up. We would be excited to go to any bowl game. But everybody is happy around here because we accomplished our goals of winning a championship and getting a ring."
OL Brandon Westbrook
On Saturday's win and this season: "I was excited after our game, excited about our accomplishments over this past year. We can't come this far and not finish the season. We are looking on to LSU and the rest of the season. It's hard to do that but you have to."
On this Saturday's game at LSU: "We are set up to play a great opponent and have to be at the top of our game to beat them. We will have to have a peak performance to do that. It is one of the loudest stadiums in the country. Our offense is fast-paced and audibiling at the goal line may be tough [because of crowd noise], but as long as we have the play and know who we're blocking, I think we'll be OK. We've been looking for everything to come together, and I think we've done that the last couple of games."
LB Scotty Brown
On the win over Arkansas State: "We knew defensively we had to have our best performance of the year to win and keep Arkansas State out of the end zone."
On this Saturday's game at LSU: "It's a big challenge for us defensively, but we won't back down. We're not going down there to lose. We have been well-prepared and just didn't play well on the road against some of the other big teams [Florida, Mississippi State]. Their quarterback is a great athlete and we have to contain him. We want to go out and represent the Sun Belt Conference and play like we have the last two games."
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