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Raiders host FIU for Annual Armed Services/Veterans Day

Saturday's kickoff set for 3 p.m. on Fox College Sports

November 5, 2013 · @MTAthletics

Opening statement:

As you get into November, the intensity of each game is magnified more and more. I said last week that UAB was a much better team than what their record indicated. We knew that going in as players and coaches, and UAB proved that. That was a great win for us, and I'm really proud of our team, and how hard they fought, competed and played to win that game. If you turn on the film, and you don't know FIU's record, you would say there's no way that this is a 1-7 football team. It will be the most athletic defense that we've played this year. They can run. Their front seven guys are big and fast. Their secondary can run as well. On offense, they made a quarterback switch last week. I'm not sure who the quarterback will be this week. E.J. Hilliard is a guy who can throw the ball, and can be a runner. He has excellent receivers on the outside, and the running backs are also really good. Their offensive line is big, like they always are. It's a team that you look at over the last couple weeks, and they continue to get better. It was 21-13 with eight minutes left last week against East Carolina. They had a tough, hard-fought game the week before that. It looks like they're starting to play better and more consistently, compared to what they did earlier in the year. On paper, you're going to see a 1-7 team, but that's not the team you're going to see on the field on Saturday afternoon.

On playing a good team with a bad record:

I'll always be honest about everything with my team and my players. I'll never lie to them about anything. If I tell the players a 1-7 team is really good, and then they turn on the film and it looks like an elementary school team out there, they're going to see that. They watched the film Sunday and they saw that FIU is a good football team. I don't have to trick them into thinking FIU is good because they know it might come down to the last play of the game again.

On the ups and downs of the offense:

We go to North Carolina and get beat 40-20, but we turned the ball over a couple of times in the red zone. BYU was really good on defense. We had a couple of chances to score late in the game and we didn't do it. East Carolina was a dogfight. A lot of that comes from when you don't score in the red zone or don't convert off a turnover. A lot of it probably has to do with us not being as efficient as we need to be.

On stopping the run:

The bottom line is to win the game. It's hard for any offense to drive for 12, 14, 15 plays and knock it in without making a mistake. Our defense gave up 299 yards rushing, but we only gave up 50 yards passing. I thought we did a good job for the most part of not giving up big plays on defense. They spit out a couple long runs on that one drive and they hit a long pass on the touchdown. I thought our defense did a nice job of keeping the ball in front of them and making them earn everything they get. When you do what UAB did, where they were going to load the line up and run behind it, it's hard to stop a team from getting three or four yards. Yeah, we gave up 299 yards rushing, but we held them to 13 points with four minutes left in the game. I thought it was big by our defense the two times we held them to field goals.

On the prospects of making a bowl game:

That's not the objective. We want to win this game because we're still trying to stay in the hunt. We're one game back with three to go and you never know what will happen with the conference race. There's a lot to play for still. We want to win this game. We'll worry about the bowl stuff at the end of the year.

On Stephen Roberts:

First of all, Stephen is a phenomenal person. He does everything right on and off the field. He gives great effort in everything he does. You can't make a great play without putting in great effort. It seems like Stephen was jinxed from the moment he got here. He's overcome so much adversity, and so many injuries, but he never stopped battling. He's hurt coming into August camp, but he battles through. I'm so happy for him on a personal level that he's been able to play this year. He's not healthy, but he's healthier than he's ever been. But I'm happy that in his last year of college ball, he's been able to be successful, and to make the contributions to this team that he has.

On the annual veterans game:

The men and women who have sacrificed so we can go out there and coach, to go out there and play, to live in a free country. They've given the ultimate sacrifice. Those are the real heroes in this world. To show them our appreciation and our gratitude with a football game is minute compared to what they deserve. We've had veterans on our team before. This is the first time we've had one that's gotten this much notoriety, because of what he had to do to get eligible to play. It'll be a proud moment for Steven [Rhodes.]

Redshirt Senior Quarterback Logan Kilgore

On the play of the running backs:

Coach (Mike) Polly and Coach (Buster) Faulkner do a great job of getting those guys ready. Each one of those running backs brings a different strength to the table. All of them are capable of big plays and doing what we need them to do. Shane (Tucker) got his first experience this past week and I thought he did a great job. No moment was too big. In the second half when we were down, he gave us a spark and I was excited with what he was able to do. Regardless of who is in there, they are all more than capable and I have confidence in all of them to do the job.

On the fluctuation of scoring throughout the season:

All I can say is that nothing is easy. Like Coach said, there might only a handful of schools in the country that just know. It is going to be a fun one and everyone is going to get to play. I was looking at the notes and realized I had 34 starts, and I don't think I have every gone into a game telling the backups to be ready because we are going to blow these guys out. Nothing is easy. Scoring should never be taken for granted. Every time we score, sometimes we go overboard, but I love to celebrate and I love to congratulate our teammates because I know in a game like that were they have a good defensive plan, scoring was going to be at a premium. Like Coach Stock said, at the end of the day as long as we score one more point than the other team, it doesn't not matter if it's 100 or one. It's what you have to do to win.

On if a record is deceiving:

UAB they were good on film, but it's tough to know the character of a team until you hit them in the mouth and see what they are going to do. The thing with UAB, they are sitting there 1-2 in conference and if they win they are back to 2-2 and in somewhat the same position as we are. They had a lot to play for.

On playing FIU:

I have been in that situation before, when a bowl game is not a possibility anymore. They have seniors on that team and they are going to come up here and we are going to get a great fight from them. I know that they are very athletic and we have played them three times. Last year going down to that game, being down 20-3, they are a really good football team. It's a fight every time with these guys and it will be no different Saturday.

Redshirt Senior Linebacker Stephen Roberts

On if he thought about walking away after injuries:

It was a thought that ran through my mind a couple times. Being down and not being there for the team made me feel like I was letting them down. I felt like if I was to say no and give up, that I would have let them down even more. I really feel blessed to have this opportunity to continue my career.

On how he has excelled:

I don't think anyone does not expect themselves not to do well. I expect myself to be great and I put myself in a position to do so. It is not just me on the field. I have ten other brothers out there with me fighting as hard as I am. I was just there at the right place at the right time.

On the performance of the defense:

I feel like we can do more against the run. I am not disappointed in the way that our defense has played. We did pretty decent for the most part. I know that we can do a lot better. We have a bunch of talent, a bunch of athletes on defense and I know we can prevent a lot more than what we have been showing.

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