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Quotes from today's football press conference

Saturday is Senior Day for 23 student-athletes

November 22, 2011 · Athletic Communications
COACH RICK STOCKSTILL: This will be senior day, the last home game for those guys. We have a heck of a challenge. FIU is a good football team. They have some very explosive and dynamic players on offense, and it starts with T.Y. Hilton. He has game-changing ability, in the kicking game as well as on offense. We have to be cognizant of him and where he is at all times.

Their front seven is probably the strength of their defense. They are athletic, and very similar to Arkansas State from a stature standpoint. They don’t move as much, and they are not a pressure defense as much as ASU but they will pose different problems. And they are really good in the kicking game. They have an excellent field goal kicker and they do a good job in their coverage. And with T.Y. back there, there is always the threat of him taking a punt or a kickoff back for a touchdown.

Probably the best thing they are doing offensively is protecting the ball. We have a big challenge ahead of us and hopefully we will play our best game this week.

(Compare last year’s FIU team to this one): Very similar. They have three out of conference wins. They beat Louisville, Central Florida, and Akron. They basically have everybody back offensively. Defensively, they had to replace some guys in the secondary and some linebackers.

(On beating FIU four of the last five years, including last year. Is that a good match-up for MT?): Those are conference games, and two of those four wins have been by one point. They have been close games with the exception of the two middle games. We’ve played good against them, but we’ve played well against most conference teams here until this year. I don’t think it is anything in particular about matching up with them; it’s just that we have played pretty well against them.

In conference games, the concern each week is turnovers. Last week, we didn’t have any turnovers officially, but we got stopped on fourth down several times, and to me that is a turnover. We only had one turnover, but not being able to convert on fourth down was basically a turnover, in my opinion.

(On starting quarterback): Jeff (Murphy) will start, but I want Logan (Kilgore) to play. Hopefully, we’ll be able to get him in there some this week.

(On the 2011 season): I know that this year has not been the year that any coach or player, fan or supporter of us expected, but when you are in this business, you are going to face adversity. It’s how you handle it; it’s how you overcome adversity. You don’t panic, you don’t all of a sudden start changing things because you had a bad year.

Yeah, there are some things that we have to get better at, and there are some things that we have got to change, but I believe in what I am doing. I believe in these players, and I believe in our plan, and in our philosophy. I know it works, I’ve been in it long enough to realize it. But I also know that we have to get better, and I know what we have to get better at. And we’ll do that.

Emotionally, those first five games took a lot out of us, losing three games by three points, and I don’t know if we ever truly recovered from it. I know these last three games haven’t been what we had hoped. We haven’t played very well. We’ve had a lot of injuries, and all of that is part of the game. I understand that, but it has an effect on each game. I said it back in August, I like the character of this team, and I still like the attitude and character of this team.

We’ve got to play a little better. We’ve got to play a little smarter. If we do that, then maybe the ball does bounce differently. I have no doubt in my mind that we are doing it the right way, that it works, that we’ve got good players, and that I respect how hard they have played each game.

DE OMAR MCLENDON

On FIU confidence: It’s still just the next game coming up. I don’t think there’s any carry-over from last year. We’re just trying to get some more wins and if we can do that Saturday we’ll be happy.

On up and downs of season: I think last week we just had a lot of enthusiasm. We weren’t thinking too much, we were just playing. I think that can help with the fluctuation of the season.

On early turnovers: Once you taste blood for the first time you want some more. I think some of that stuff builds on itself. We were able to fly around and get some good turnovers and it helped our offense.

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