Raiders visit ACC foe North Carolina on Saturday

Game set to kickoff at 11:29 a.m. CT; airs on ACC Network

September 3, 2013 · @MTAthletics

Head Coach Rick Stockstill

Opening comments: 

We're excited about this opportunity that we have against North Carolina. This is a great challenge for us. We're excited to play North Carolina. They're a really good football team. They won the Coastal Division of the ACC last year and they played the No. 6 team in the country, South Carolina, last week to a really close game so that's a good football team. 

They're really athletic. They've got a really good quarterback, who is highly experienced and does a great job protecting the football. He can make all the throws and they've got a lot of skilled people, receivers, running backs around him, that make their offense really diverse and dynamic. They're an up-tempo team. 

They try to go as fast as they can, so we've got to do a good job of trying to get them a little bit behind the chains. First down is always critical for up-tempo teams, so we've got to do a great job on first down. Offensively, we've got to do a good job of trying to stay on the field and converting on third downs as much as we can to keep our defense and their offense off the field. We've got a great challenge, but it's one that we are extremely excited about and we're looking forward to going up there to North Carolina.

On North Carolina head coach Larry Fedora's offense:

It's basically the same thing he did at Southern Miss. The only difference is now, he's doing it with a lot better players. He's still going to run all the fast screens, he's still going to run the outside zone, try to get you to run sideline to sideline to wear your big guys out and then try to hit an explosive play down the field. He's got really good running backs and his offensive line is huge. They're really big. But schematically, it's no different than what he did at Southern Miss.

On success against ACC teams in the past:

I don't think it's so much the ACC success we've had, but it's just a matter of playing a good football game, protecting the football and not turning it over and not giving up big plays on the defensive side. If you do that, no matter who you play, you've got a chance to win the game. I think the big thing in games like this is you've got to make the opponent earn everything they get. You can't give them anything by turning the ball over and then you've got to play your best game. You've got to play a good game yourself. 

We're going on the road. I said it earlier in the year, you've got to be mentally tough going on the road to play especially in a game like this where there will be 60,000-70,000 people there. We've got to be mentally tough and overcome adversity when adversity strikes. You go back to the Georgia Tech game last year, we turned the ball over on the first possession, but we overcame that adversity. We didn't panic. We didn't all of a sudden start trying to do things that were out of character for us. We found a way to win the game so I think the toughness part and you've got to play well.

On his comfort-level on the road at ACC stadiums:

It's been a long time since I played North Carolina from when I was at Clemson the last time. (UNC's) stadium has changed a lot since I was there. They've added more seats. They've changed the locker room. They're facilities have changed dramatically since the last time I was there so I'm not sure exactly what you're going to see other from what I've seen in pictures. It's hard to prepare and I like to prepare our team before we get there to understand what the locker room is going to be like, their fans and what they're going to experience before we get there. You've just got to ignore all the noise. You've got to ignore it. You're going into a hostile place and just focus on us. We can't control what North Carolina does, but we can control what we do and it's our responsibility to play a good football game.

On starting quarterback Logan Kilgore's injury:

I doubt he'll be 100 percent. He practiced yesterday, but we limited his throws. He'll go again today and we'll increase his throws, but there's no question that Logan (Kilgore) will play and he'll play well. Obviously this week, we won't be putting in any designed quarterback runs with his injury. He's got to be tough enough and disciplined enough that if he needs to escape the pocket if things break down and he's outside, he's got to be tough enough to run the ball and protect himself. You've got to go play the game and there's a bunch of people that are going to play this week that are hurt, but that's the mental toughness and physical toughness that we talk about all the time. Logan is a mentally and physically tough person and player. You got to go out there and play the game. You don't go out there and call the game scared. You don't play the game scared.

On limiting the offense because of Logan Kilgore's health:

If he's playing, nothing is changing. He practiced yesterday. We've got four or five more days, he's going to be ready to go. I have no doubts about that. We're not going to call a deep ball pass because I don't want to put extra strain on his arm. We're not going to play it that way. He can make all the throws. He threw at good velocity yesterday and I expect him to play well.

On how the TV exposure has changed over the years:

I think we'll see it more so this year as the season goes along because of what Conference USA presents itself. When I first got here, you were begging to be on TV. You were playing on Tuesday nights all the time just trying to get exposure and get on TV. Now, it's more Saturdays. It's great for our fans, it's great for our university, and it's great for our football program to say, we're on TV just about every game. I say it all the time, you can accomplish all your goals here at Middle Tennessee just like you can anywhere else. If TV is one of your goals, you're going to be on TV a bunch.

On North Carolina quarterback Bryn Renner's style of play:

He's a good player. He's a smart football player. I think that's as big as anything. He's smart. He protects the ball. I don't think he's thrown an interception in 135 attempts or something like that. He does a good job protecting the ball. He's a good leader of their offense.

On who concerns him the most with North Carolina:

I think all of them do. I think they've all got good players. They throw some many fast screens, wide receiver screens outside, that a lot of people are going to touch the ball. They are really good two-deep, might be even deeper than that. You play the game. You've got to play your responsibility. You've got to play your coverage. You've got to play how you've been coached and hopefully that takes care of the personnel. They've got good players. They're fast.

Redshirt Senior QB Logan Kilgore

On how his shoulder feels:

It feels good, I think Robbie (Stewart) and all the other trainers have done a great job. It will be fine and I will be ready for this week.

On playing with an injury:

I have always played the game the same way. I have had little injuries before. the only reason why this is a little different is because it's my throwing shoulder. I can still do the same things and I will go in with the same mindset.

On North Carolina's offensive tempo:

I think anytime we play a team that is fast like that, it's always a game that we might be off the field, and then right back on. It will be a fast paced fun game. We don't go into it any differently. We definitely would like to sustain drives and let our defense get their wind back.

On the newcomers performance against WCU:

I feel good. Chris Perkins and Devin Clarke came on just like we knew they would. It's weird to call them new because we have been with them since the spring. We are really comfortable with them. I think they played well and I think that our offensive line played really well. Josh Chester, with his first start at center, played well. I am just excited for him to get more confidence and more game reps.

On the running game:

I think that we ran the ball really well. Western Carolina was a big two-high, bailing corners type team. They really wanted to make sure that they didn't get beat deep and they did a good job with that. With that, they opened up a lot of running holes for us. You saw on the first play of the game that we established the ball really well.

On relishing the role of underdog against ACC competition:

If there was any thought of flying in under the radar, it's ridiculous. They know what type of team that Georgia Tech was last year and they know what we did to them. They are well coached team; (Larry Fedora) coached here. It's not like we are unfamiliar to them or will sneak in there. They are going to come out well prepared and so will we. That's the way you want it. I don't look at it as if we are underdogs. You only get 12 opportunities and they are not going to waste one. Neither are we.

On if UNC changes its thought process with him playing:

They probably aren't sitting at their press conference wondering if I am going to play. They could care less. They are going to play one way and we are going to play one way. I practiced yesterday and practiced today. It's really not anything we are going to worry about.

On freshman center Josh Chester:

Playing center with as much motion and sets that we go into, there is a lot of changing tempos. As a center, with crowd noise and other things he has to be tuned in. He did a good job of calling out fronts, there wasn't moment that he seemed fluster. All he had to do was look to his left and right and see Josh Walker and Isaiah Anderson and see guys that have been there so long. It's not like its five freshmen that are up there. He is sandwiched in between some pretty good players.

On North Carolina's tempo:

They are fast and change their looks a lot. I feel that North Carolina moves so much, they have many different coverages and blitzes. I think that they are pretty good up front and they cover really well. It's going to be a fun challenge. Anytime you go against somebody that can throw anything at you at any time, it keeps you focused and in tune to what is going on.

On if the UNC/South Carolina game helped with preparation:

I have seen some of the plays that they hit (South Carolina) on. It's a tough film for us to watch because we are not a down-hill running under-center team. You never know what different kind of looks that they were doing. We watch film of teams like us. What I gained from South Carolina game, was some of their (North Carolina) new personal. With the same defense coordinator and same scheme I have watched a lot more of last year's film than this year. I did take notice of what worked against them and we will work it into our game plan.

Redshirt Senior LB Stephen Roberts

On his career interception:

The interception boosted my confidence a little bit and allowed me and the rest of the defense to execute like I knew we could.

On North Carolina's tempo:

From practice, what they have showed us is a little faster to be honest. Our biggest thing is for our defense to get more conditioned to stay with the tempo and defeat the tempo, and get the three and outs we need.

On playing an early game:

I really don't have a preference. I am playing the game I love, so regardless of what time it is, as long as I am out there doing what I need to do, I am fine with it.

On playing the role of underdog:

Like coach says, just ignore the noise. We just go at it likes it's any other game. Our defensive coaches make a really good scheme for us so that we are well-prepared for this next game. It's like this for any game not necessarily any ACC, Sun Belt or C-USA team.

On if there is any added pressure:

I feel like it's more of a challenge seeing a big named ACC team and I like the challenge. I like to see if they are better than us.

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