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Raiders welcome in-state rival Memphis on Saturday

MT and Tigers kickoff at 6pm in CSS televised broadcast

September 10, 2013 · @MTAthletics

Head Coach Rick Stockstill

Opening Statement:

This is a big week with Memphis coming in here. It's a great series. I love playing this game and I think it's a natural game for both schools. I'm really looking forward to it. It ought to be an awesome weekend.

Memphis is much improved from when we played them the last time. They ended up leading Conference USA last year in total defense. They kept getting better and better as the year went on. They have a lot of new faces on both sides of the ball. They went heavy in the junior college ranks and brought in some young guys as well.

They got beat last week by Duke, who was a bowl team last year. It's a good football team. We got them last year, but it was a lot closer than the score indicated. This is going to be a 60-minute game. It's going to be a tough challenge for us and we have to improve on how we played last week, and we have to be ready to play this week.

On Memphis:

Their defense is a lot faster than last year. They had a good game plan last week and Duke had to earn everything they got. I came away impressed with how big and fast they were. I think any time you play an in-state team, especially a team like Memphis who was in Conference USA before moving to the American Athletic Conference, it increases the intensity of the game. I've never believed that one game determines much in recruiting. I don't think kids make decisions based on one game. I think they look at the entire body of work. I think the proximity of the two schools enhances things. We didn't play for a long time and now we've played a few years in a row. I like the intensity of it.

On last week's performance at North Carolina:

It's about us. You look back, take away five plays offensively, two plays defensively and a play in the kicking game and it's a different outcome. All eight of those plays were us. We dropped the ball, we threw the interception, we roughed the punter. I think it proved that if we correct those things, we have a chance to be a heck of a football team this year. I came away very impressed with the competitiveness of our team and how hard they competed the entire 60 minutes. With 30-40 seconds left, we're scrambling and fighting for an onside kick and we get it. I was impressed with our competitiveness, but I was not surprised by it.

On the quarterback situation:

Logan (Kilgore) is our quarterback. We went in with a scripted plan to get Austin (Grammer) plays early because we weren't sure about Logan's shoulder. Once we got off that script, it's harder as a play-caller to say 'Logan, you go this play,' or 'Austin, you go this play. I think there's a place for Austin in this offense. We'll continue to evaluate the best way to help this team win, while also being cognizant of not disrupting the flow of the offense too much because of a substitution. Against Western Carolina, we wanted to play Austin. With Logan being a senior, we want to make sure Austin's getting some reps. With him having not played last year, and no one behind him having played, we need to make sure we're getting him some reps in case something does happen.

On Memphis' personnel:

Paxton) Lynch has a huge arm. He's big, probably 6-5 or so. He did a good job protecting the ball against Duke. He runs better than you would expect with him being that big. He scrambles well and avoids pressure. He must have had a great camp to beat out the guy who started 12 games last year. Their biggest difference from last year is their front seven. They're fast, they can run and have some junior college guys in there that they didn't have last year that have really increased the size and speed of their defense.

On Middle Tennessee's speed on the line:

I think every coach in America would sit up here and tell you the first thing they're looking for is speed. If you can't run, you'll have a hard time playing. You always look for speed first and then hope you have the size to go along with it. We don't just pick little guys that can run. We like big guys who can run, too.

On whether Memphis is a rival:

I've never emphasized one game over another. I think you have to come ready to play every week no matter who it is. This game, to me, is important because it's in-state, but it's no more important than North Carolina or Western Carolina were, and it's no more important than FAU will be next week. You have to come ready to play every week.

Redshirt Senior QB Logan Kilgore

On playing Memphis:

This is my fourth time playing these guys. I think that every year, no matter what their record ends up to be and what our record ends up to be, it's always a dogfight. It has been a fun little rivalry. They're an in-state team and I have enjoyed going out there to play and enjoyed playing them here. I think that it's a fun test for us.

On if Memphis being a former member of C-USA will forecast the rest of the season:

Not anymore than playing North Texas last year or FIU, as they are part of Conference USA now. I think that there are new teams out there. I would argue that every year Middle Tennessee is a different team. We are a different team year to year so is everybody else. Playing them this week will be a test for us and the only reason is because they are a good team. I think they are versatile, fast and big up front. I am excited for the challenge.

On Memphis' Martin Ifedi:

He is a good player, but we play good players all the time. Number eight from North Carolina (Norkeithus Otis) was probably about as good as we will see and he was a pretty good player. Their front five are big and strong. They were last year and the year before. They have always had a strong team and I am excited for our offensive line for that challenge.

On if he likes playing different teams:

I like playing different teams. It is fun to see other stadiums. The thing with Memphis is that it is a game that has to happen. They are kind of someone we compare to in the state, and that is what makes it fun.

On his role in the offense:

My role does not change based on a couple plays in the game. I need to protect the ball and do the things that I am coached to do and worry about what I control. Coach (Buster) Faulkner does a great job of using all the personnel, not just quarterbacks. He uses tight ends, fullbacks and wide receivers. He puts us in a position to succeed and if he decides on certain situations to switch things up, I am fine with that. Whatever it takes to win.

Redshirt Senior LB Stephen Roberts

On if he prefer to wear the white helmet:
I would like to bring them out, but whatever kind of helmet does not determine the outcome for this game. It does not really matter to me, but I wouldn't mind to bringing them out.

On if MT has a speed advantage:

I don't think so. I feel that we just try to play as fast as we can. It depends on what kind of key players on offense or defense. It's about having all 11 players at the ball.

On if Memphis is a rivalry:

I guess we could call it a rivalry. I look forward to playing Memphis every year. It is always a good game, like coach says it's always a 60 minute game. We always have to fight till the end of the fourth quarter. I look forward to it every year.

On gaining momentum before next week's game at FAU:

It is very important for us to make our mark for the season. For us to get motivation to step up, we have the players, skill, effort and drive. We just need to make sure we get this win and close it out.

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