Sept. 18, 2006
Head Coach Frank Solich
"They'll be the most physical team that we will have played so far. They're very big up front on both sides of the ball, and they've got good quickness along with being big, so that's always tough to handle. I thought just looking back that we probably played well enough defensively to win last week, but we didn't play well enough offensively and of course, the Rutgers defense had something to do with that. They were the best defense that we've played up to this point. They utilize their quickness very well and their front seven were excellent. We're faced with a similar situation in that it (Missouri) is a football team that is very physical, strong team up front, so it's going to be a challenge to get some things done again offensively. We'll have to try to have a good mixture of what we're trying to do offensively, and overall just be better technicians in what we're trying to accomplish. We were our own worst enemy in some cases. Last week's game should have been a ball game, and it's obvious we gave away some points, which we can't continue to do with the caliber of team we've got coming up. We need to shore up some things offensively and a few things in special teams, and hopefully, we will be in a situation where we can make a ball game out of this."
On Missouri defensive end Brian Smith:
"He's got excellent pass-rush skills, but he's also physical against the run. I look at him as a complete defensive end. He's not a guy that specializes in one thing. I think he's just an excellent all-around football player. It's obvious that he's playing at a level that it takes to earn that award (Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week), but as you look across the line, they've got an excellent group of defensive linemen. It's not a situation where you can find weak spots. You're going to have to operate with 11 guys doing the right thing all the time - using good technique, trying to get some things to hopefully surprise them a little bit and then see if you can get a few points on the board."
On facing another good running team:
"When you have a great back, he's going to get his yards. What you don't want to do is get hurt on both ends of it. If you look at it, Wolfe got his yards, but he got them all rushing, and he didn't get any receiving. His total yards were held down to a degree, if you want to call 195 yards or so, holding a guy down. Last week they had very good running back and they got some yards, but the passing game was not truly an effective part of the game, and so we did a good job in controlling that. You're probably going to find it difficult to shut people down entirely. If you do, you ought to be winning the MAC and maybe ought to be somewhere in the top 25. We're certainly going to work on shutting down what they do best and hopefully play well enough in the other areas that we're able to stay in the game with these guys. I thought in some ways that we played the run very well (against Rutgers). They had a few screens and a few long runs but other than that, they didn't march up and down the field on us. I've been fairly pleased with what we got accomplished in the run game. We're going to have to do very well this week. They (Missouri) not only have a good running back, but they utilize their quarterback an awful lot in the running game. He's got great speed, and they do a lot of option with him."
On the atmosphere at Missouri:
"They've got a very good following. They're off to a great start so I imagine that it's going to be a tough atmosphere to play in. The times I've played at Missouri before, we brought in a Nebraska team, and because of our history of success, no matter where we went, people were fired up to play us. They'll be fired up to continue to win football games and try and get themselves on track to have a great season. I think there's a feeling there that there is a possibility for that kind of year for them. It will be a tough atmosphere to play in. They're loud. They're very much into the game from start to finish. It's not the kind of deal where they're there for part of it. They're in it for the whole game. It will be a challenge for us, but three road games in a row is a challenge, and there are challenges throughout a season. We'll work at making sure we respond well and not have that play a part in it - don't let anyone take us out of the game. It's going to be played by 11 players on the field for our team and 11 for their team. When the ball is snapped, what gets done there is what's going to make the difference."
On coaching at a Big 12 stadium again:
"I've not found anything in this game weird from the coaching end of it. I've found some things difficult. It has no particular significance to me going back to Missouri. When you coach in as many games as I've been involved in, you go a lot of places. They've got a great history and excellent tradition. They've always been a physical football team, and they'll present a lot of challenges. In terms of going back to Missouri, Oklahoma or any other Big 12 school, it really has no effect on me."
On whether the extra attention on him this week will be a distraction:
"That will attract some interest, I'm sure, for obvious reasons. That's one thing that will not be a distraction for me. We try to make sure that our players understand this game is filled with distractions, and if you let those distractions start to bother you than it affects your game. We don't expect our players to be distracted by anything, so I certainly won't be distracted."
On the special teams' performance against Rutgers:
"We got off to bad start in the punting and that hurt us a little bit. After that I thought we started to improve in the punting phase of it, although there were a couple of kicks that weren't what we've been seeing from Matt (Lasher) lately, but the coverage was good. They didn't have any positive yards on any punt return. I think they only returned one, so that was a positive. The fact that we did a very good job in the punt return game was a real positive step for us. We didn't field one punt, and that ended up being a little bit costly for us in terms of lost yards, but other than that, Chris (Garrett) did an outstanding job. He was selected as MAC Special Teams Player of the Week, and that was certainly well deserved. The kickoff game was kind of a wash. Neither team did a great job on kickoff returns, and both teams did okay on kickoff coverage. We had a field goal blocked, which was a major factor. That's something we will address in practice and get it straightened out so hopefully it doesn't happen again. We did identify the problem, and we'll correct that problem. For us to be the kind of team we want to be, we have to win the special teams battles, not just a couple of them. We have the potential to win them across the board so we have to keep working on that end of it."
On the penalties against Rutgers:
"We continually try to work on making sure we're a disciplined football team and don't do individual things that are going to hurt us. It's one thing having a selfish penalty, like a personal foul, versus an effort penalty. We had one punt return called back because of a clip, but we were working at trying to get Chris (Garrett) broke free. That kind of penalty, at times, is understandable versus the undisciplined kind of penalties that come back to haunt you. I think we're a better football team this year than last year on that end of it."
On the MAC results from this past week:
"It's so early you hate to talk much about it, but we're positioned as well as we can be with one MAC win in one try. It's obvious to me going into my second year in the MAC that upsets, if you want to call them upsets, are somewhat common. I think it's because everybody has pretty good athletes. There's different ways to win a game, and different ways to lose a game. There are more teams, maybe, that are close athletically than in some conferences so you're going to have a few upsets, or surprises, along the way. I think they'll continue to be those throughout the year."
Junior Wide Receiver Chido Nwokocha:
On what the offense has to address from last week's game:
"From an offensive standpoint, we have to work on our consistency of play, and just executing our plays better. I think we got a little rattled. One thing went bad so things started to mess up from there. We're going to get things figured out."
On how Rutgers' defense took advantage of their mistakes:
"Going against a team like that we can't make those mistakes. We got away with some mistakes the previous week against Northern Illinois. This week when we made those mistakes, there was no way we could overcome that. They were able to jump on our mistakes and move on from there so we were playing catch up. We're not a team that really wants to be in that situation."
On what adjustments need to be made for this week:
"I don't think it's necessarily adjustments. It's more on us to execute our plays and fix our mental mistakes. I think we came in with a good game plan. We knew what we had to do. We knew everything Rutgers was going to do, and we knew everything that we had to do. It was just poor execution on our part. I'm pretty sure this week we'll have a good game plan for Missouri. We'll know what they're going to do. It's just on us to make the plays that need to be made."
On playing three straight road games:
"It's a little difficult to stay on school wise. Mentally, you have to be tough. The other night we got back kind of late so it was hard to wake up on Sunday and get your homework done and then wake up early today and go to classes. Going through the road games, especially three in a row, is difficult. We have to fight through it." On the offense's potential:
"I think we can be pretty explosive on offense. We have a lot of weapons. We have a lot of receivers, good tight ends and an outstanding running back. The line is good and the quarterbacks our good. It's just executing on our part. On that first drive (against Rutgers), we were clicking with that first down and then the touchdown. On the other drives, you could see us slowly moving the ball and then something would happen and we'd be done for that drive. That's too inconsistent for us. If we would've put together some of the drives like we had the previous week (at Northern Illinois) than that would have been a totally different game. Chris Garrett put us in great field position two times, and we came away with nothing. We can't do that against those kinds of teams. If we want to be successful, we have to score those kind of points."
On playing in a bigger stadium:
"Last week was a pretty motivating game, playing in front of 41,000. That was nice to play in front of that kind of crowd. I think that's good to get us prepared for this week with 50,000 or 60,000 plus. Once you're playing the crowd doesn't become a factor until you make the mistakes that we made. We really don't worry about crowd. We just go ahead and try and take care of business."
On the difference between the junior college and Division I levels:
"At my previous level, you're so much better than them that if one thing bad does happen, you know eventually you're going to score a quick touchdown or something like that. At this level, players are so much better and physically stronger that it does leave a little wear and tear on you. I'm not even running the ball that much like Kalvin and some others. I don't understand how they can take that kind of a beating. I'm getting tackled like four times a game after a catch. It's a little different physically. Mentally, we have to be able to be strong. It's a cat-and-mouse game at receiver with a defensive back. You have to be able to read the coverages and know what the DB is going to do."