Aug. 28, 2006
On preparing for Tennessee-Martin and their first-year staff:
"It was a little tough, but you try to gather as much information as you can from where Coach (Jason) Simpson was at, which was Tennessee-Chattanooga. Then you look at coordinators. He was the offensive coordinator at Tennessee-Chattanooga so we think what they did there is probably what they'll do. In gathering the information, you're never quite sure that you have what you need in order to get prepared for them to start off. It's obvious we're not sure what they'll be doing offensively and defensively. We had that same advantage last year."
On whether the team is looking past the Skyhawks to the MAC opener:
"We're trying to get to a point where we win a ton of football games. In order to do that, you can't take anybody lightly. Certainly in your home opener, you want to play well and gather some momentum to on to the next game. They (the players) understand that. They know what it's going to take in order to win football games. Tennessee-Martin has a lot of guys returning. All teams have athletes anymore. They run a power offense. They'll try to control the ball on us and hit us with the play-action pass. They want to cause us to beat ourselves, and then you look up in the fourth quarter and you're in for a dog fight. We just need to control how we play. We're intending to play very well and very aggressive, and then we'll see where we're at in terms of going on with the rest of our season."
On the importance of the season-opener:
"It will be one of two things. It will either show us that we're ready to open the season and play good football, or it will show us we're not where we need to be. It's going to be defining. I think we'll be a better football team than we were last year in all phases of the game - offense, defense and special teams. What that means in the long run, we'll see. The attitude is great. They (the players) have prepared well for this first game, so we need to come out and play well."
On one area he wants to see perform on Saturday:
"We're going to have a new punter and we're going to have a new kicker so that's an area that has to perform well for us. I don't think it will be a weakness. It has a chance to be a real strength for us. Matt Lasher is going to be doing both the punting and the kicking. He's got a very strong leg, and he's practiced very well, but he doesn't have experience for us punting or kicking in a game. We're counting on that being a strength for us, but we'll see."
On the new players that will play Saturday:
"You'll see some true freshman playing right away. Taylor Price as a wide receiver will play for us right away. Not only will he be at wide receiver, but he'll have a chance at the punt return spot. Kris Luchsinger is another freshman that has shown he can play very, very well. He's a guy that will certainly be used in long yardage situations for pass rushes. As the season goes along, he'll have a chance to be looked at more and more as an every down player. Chris Garrett was here in the spring. It will be his first go-around in a game. We've got other guys like that. I'm sure I failed to mention a few of them. We'll be a fairly young football team again, but in saying that, our young guys from last year have got a good deal of experience."
On how the team came through camp physically:
"We got hit hard early in the offensive line, but since that point in time we haven't had too many major injuries. In saying that, Joel Scipio broke his leg. Joel was vying for a chance to play for us. That's a shame. He's certainly lost for the season. Other than that, not many major injuries. We've had guys banged up. We're going to practice hard today (Monday), go in half pads tomorrow and then on Wednesday and Thursday we'll be in sweats. We'll be able to get our legs back, and get the bumps and bruises, we think, healed up after today's practice."
On how the team is preparing:
"We want to continue to work hard on all our special teams. We're devoting a lot of time to that meeting wise and on the field. I think we have the potential to be very good there. If we can develop that into being a real strength for us, it's going to make life a lot easier. We're really looking at continuing to work hard in the special teams area. We've put a lot of offense and a lot of defense in throughout fall camp, and now we're getting specific with what we're going to practice this week for Tennessee-Martin. That will cut us back on what we're doing offensively and defensively, and have us work at a rate that is not going to have us beat ourselves. We'll know what we're doing and execute well."
On some of the veterans that stood out in camp:
"Austen Everson has had a very good fall, and that was great to see. He came off a year that was not really what you look for in the throwing game. He provided great leadership, was tough, stayed on the field for us and did a lot of good things. But we need to throw better. Part of that was the quarterback. I was really pleased with how he stepped up in his performance this fall. Matt Coppage in the offensive line had shoulder surgery this offeseason. He came back and has practiced well. We have three veterans lining up at tight end in Rudy (Sylvan), Corey (Logan) and Tom Christy. All three of those guys have great experience. You can go across the board with experience to some degree. At wide receiver, certainly Scott Mayle jumps out at you. Kalvin (McRae) at running back has gotten a lot reps and played extremely well. Landon Cohen is going to be healthy to start the season. Last year he played banged up most of the year so we think that will be a big deal for us. You look at Matt Muncy at linebacker and T.J. Wright at corner, so we have fair amount of experience mixed in with the younger guys."
On the communication between quarterbacks and the rest of the offense:
"I think Brad has picked up our system very well since he's been here. They're both similar in terms of their leadership, command in the huddle and knowledge of the game. From that standpoint, I think the players are very comfortable with either one. I think both have shown that they can play and play extremely well with their work this fall. I think there's a good strong belief in both those guys by our receiving corps and our football team in general."
On what he wants to improve on in 2006:
"We want to be a smart football team. I hit upon that several times last year, but maybe not enough because we didn't develop into a smart football team. We don't want to be a team that beats itself. We're going to look to execute at a level where we're not making mistakes and not putting ourselves in long-yardage situations. That's critical. We let guys off the hook from the defensive standpoint with penalties, and we put ourselves in long-yardage situations from the offensive standpoint. You can't overcome some of those things most of the time. We're going to look for execution. We need to be physical. We think we'll be a more physical team than we were last year. We think we'll be a better tackling team and a better blocking team. That will all be proved out come Saturday night."
On whether specific preparation for UT Martin or focus on his own team's execution is more important:
"I think it's a combination of the two. Certainly, there will be surprises for us. We won't be on the mark with everything that they're going to try and do to us. Hopefully, we have some semblance of what they're going to be about. We have attempted to work on some things that we think that they'll be doing. From the standpoint of lining up and executing well, there will be no excuse of they surprised us with this or they surprised us with that. We know enough football know. It's the second year for our coaches. We're not starting from scratch. We don't have to start with the cadence, the stance and all the different techniques, and pull our hair out because we don't see improvement in that. We've had a year of that, and we're moving on to other things in the coaching process. I think we'll be a much better football team in terms of not beating ourselves and executing well. Saturday night will determine whether that's fact or fiction."