MT hosts East Carolina in first C-USA home game

Blue Raiders and Pirates kickoff at 2:30 p.m. on FSN Saturday

October 1, 2013 · @MTAthletics

Head Coach Rick Stockstill

Opening Statement:

I'm looking forward to the opportunity to go out there and compete against East Carolina. They're a really good football team, led by their quarterback. He had a good year last year, and he's off to a good start this year. I think they're running the ball more effectively the past couple weeks than the beginning of this year or the end of last year. They've got some explosive wide receivers and their offensive line is good. Defensively, they're really good, especially against the run. They're a really good football team, coming off a big win, so this is a great challenge and a great opportunity for us on Saturday afternoon.

On ECU quarterback Shane Carden:

He's a really good football player. He can make all the throws, and he's running the ball more than he did last year, which adds another dimension to their offense.

On ECU's offensive success:

They've got some explosive players. They're getting a lot of opportunities because their defense is so good. Their quarterback and running back are playing well. It's a good, explosive, up-tempo offense.

On outscoring ECU:

We've got to play better than what we did against BYU. If you had told me 17 points would be enough to beat Memphis, I would have thought we would have had to score more than that. Hopefully our defense will show up and play hard, which they've been doing. Hopefully, we don't give up 40 or 50 points. But if we do, we have to score one more point than they do.

On ECU's offensive talent:

It's the best skill we've seen so far this year. BYU had a great quarterback and some good receivers and running backs, too. We've seen some great players. Like I said, this will be a great challenge for our football team.

On the defense forcing turnovers; third downs:

We're doing a very good job of creating turnovers. We're No. 1 in the country and there are a lot of good football teams out there. There are 126 of us and we're No. 1. Our defensive players have done a great job of attacking the ball, and Coach Nix and his staff have done a great job of emphasizing that.

We've got to be more consistent and we've got to be better on third down. We've given up some big plays on third down, which is something we can't afford to continue to do. We have to get off the field more consistently defensively.

On conference title ramifications of Saturday's game:

If you win, you're 2-0 and still have six games to go. You're not going to win the conference on Saturday, and you're not going to lose it. Last year, we won our first conference game, lost our second and played for the conference championship on the last day. It's a critical game, but the conference champion won't be crowned on Saturday afternoon.

On playing a long-standing C-USA team:

When you think of Conference USA, you think of East Carolina and Southern Miss. Those are the two teams that come to mind when you think of Conference USA because of the history and tradition of those two programs. It's the first time we've played a Conference USA member we haven't played before, so it's a different feel.

Redshirt Senior QB Logan Kilgore

On East Carolina's Offense:

It is our goal every week to score every time we get the ball. Our defense's goal is to stop them every time. We have played against teams with good offenses and our motto does not change week-to-week. We need to execute on our game plan and that will never change.

On if the game plan changes each week:

Yes. Last game (BYU) had an offense that had such an ability to go quickly that we wanted to control the clock more and keep their offense off the field, even if that meant losing some of what we do, going fast. There will be different schemes week-to-week and that is decided by Coach (Buster) Faulkner and Coach (Rick) Stockstill. We will see. We are versatile and can go either way week-to-week. We will have to figure it out during this week.

On if he prefers being under center or in shotgun:

I prefer to be under center. I enjoy the look of things and being able to check from the line is a benefit. At the end of the day, it is a personal preference, not that one is more effective or less effective. Going into last season the big talk was how we are going to improve on third-and-short and going under center we were one of the best third-and short teams. People overlook that we had Benny Cunningham and others that were converting. Now, we are just as good third and short as we were. You can achieve those things by sustaining blocks and I don't think it matters where the quarterback is standing.

On if Saturday's game feels like a C-USA contest:

It's a conference game, but it really feels like a Conference USA game. This is one of those teams that you have always observed from afar and seen what their ability is and the crowds at their place. It has always been a team that is in a different conference, but now it is a different feel playing these guys. The city should be excited, a really good opponent is coming into Murfreesboro. We are really excited about our chance to measure up and see how we match up with the favorite team in the conference.

On running the ball:

Looking at the first game, one possession in the third quarter and all of a sudden the whole season changes. Going into the season I trained a lot and was really excited to establish that presence and add that dimension to the offense. The last couple of games, I had to do what was best for the team and my health. Now everything is on the table and I am excited about being where I wanted to be going into the season. I think it will add another dimension to the offense.

Redshirt Senior LB Stephen Roberts

On defense being strong in turnovers, but not as strong on third down:

We have to be more consistent on a regular basis as far as making plays and it starts up front. We have to execute and become tougher overall on defense, wanting to get off the field.
On what is missing on third down:
Some of it is dealing with tackling. We have to do a better job with that. I know our guys are tough enough we are going to hunt towards the ball, tackling is our biggest concern.

On the ECU offense:

I haven't seen much, but I have seen big receivers and big quarterback, pretty good execution.

On T.T. Barber's maturity:

He does not have to think as much. He knows the defense a lot better. He is just like one of us. We don't think of him as a sophomore, but he is just one of us and is coming along really well.

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