Middle Tennessee Press Conference Quotes
Opening Comments from Coach Stockstill:
We are very excited to begin the season and play Clemson. The atmosphere we will play in and the players we will line up against are something we are very excited about. We have had a great three weeks of practice leading up to this game. I cannot tell you how proud I am of these players. They have worked hard getting ready to get this season started. We expect to play well and we are looking forward to the opportunity.
On the team's confidence after playing BCS opponents in past seasons; Did beating Maryland last season increase team confidence? We've had some close games with the BCS schools. But I don't want to say beating Maryland gave us confidence to get over the hump. Our team has always been confident. We've played good teams in the past that have beaten us and then they've gone on to win championships. So we know what it takes to play big programs. And our players are confident going up against some of the best players in the country. Our defense played against a Heisman Trophy candidate three years ago in Adrian Peterson. We've played great individuals and great teams. This is just another opportunity for us against a team from a great conference.
On team starting strong verses Clemson
I think it helps. We did not get off on a good foot against Oklahoma and it snowballed. We got off on a good foot at South Carolina and scored on the first play and then did not do much else the rest of the game. It is important, but you are not going to win or lose the game on the first play or the first drive or the first quarter. That is how we are going to look at it. If we are up 21 at the half, we still have to play two more quarters. If we are down 21, we have got to go finish it strong. It helps, but it won't determine the game in the first quarter.
On stopping the run verses stopping a freshman quarterback.
If your defense can make an offense one dimensional, it is always in your favor. Defensively, you have to stop the run first no matter who you play even if the team is a predominately throwing team. They have got a really good offensive line, they have good backs and receivers, and from what I have seen of this quarterback, he looks like he is capable of making all the throws. He has been in their system for two years and I would not expect him to play like a first year freshman. It is not like he is coming out of high school.
On containing Clemson freshman quarterback Kyle Parker
He is a good player. It does not matter if he is a sophomore, junior or a senior. He has been there for two years. He can make all the throws and is dangerous as a runner. We must make sure we get him on the ground when he does run. He is a great player. He would not be playing at Clemson if he was not a good player. We expect him to play good and we have to get after him
On what team should expect playing in Memorial Stadium
They know what to expect. I have not said one word to them about my experience coaching at Clemson. It is not relevant. They know they are going into a big stadium with 80,000 people there cheering against them. We have been in those environments before and it is not anything new to us. I have not mentioned it because it is not about me, it is about our players.
On coaches getting excited for the first game
You get into this profession because you love it. Everything leading up to your season is important, but this is why you coach. You coach because of the competition. I have been waiting for this season to start for months now. It seems like it takes forever to get here and then it goes so fast. I am very excited about this season. I love our players and the attitude they have shown. This team has done everything the coaches have asked. They have practiced with a purpose. They have lifted weights with a purpose. They have gone to class with a purpose. I am excited to get them on the field and watch them play.
On the speed of Clemson
It is hard to simulate Clemson's speed in our practice. We are no different from any other team in the country. Jacoby Ford is the fastest guy in America and Heisman Trophy candidate CJ Spiller is fast and as elusive as there is in college football. We do not have a bunch of those guys running around here, but that is ok. We practice hard. As a defender you have got to be fundamentally sound and tackle like you have been coached to tackle when you play against guys like that. We have got to be relentless in getting to the football. He is going to get his plays. He has 20 plays for over 50 yards in his career. We have got to tackle and play with great effort. That is all you can ask of your players.
On not starting against a conference opponent
That is the way you are supposed to do it. If you look across the country, there are not a lot of programs that start with a conference opponent. I like the way our schedule falls with the first three being non-conference games. Our objective is to win every game we play. Last year we lost the first game versus a conference opponent and it puts you behind the eight ball. Now you've got time to bring guys along and get them experience. If you lose it does not hurt as much as if you lose to a conference opponent. We are also installing a new offense and there are baby steps that have to be taken. There are going to be growing pains. I like opening up against three non-conference opponents.
On team playing with a new offensive coordinator
We know what we are doing and now we have to execute. They have got a new defensive coordinator. We do not know what they are going to do. There is going to be a feel out process. Next when we play Memphis, we will have a better idea of what they are going to do because they have played Ole Miss. The first game there is always so many unknowns. I expect our players to go out and play well because they have been in it all spring and all summer.
On team setting goals for the number of wins
No. My goal is to be the best team we can be. If you set a goal of going 12 and 0 and lose your first game, then what do you tell your team? You cannot accomplish your goal. We know what our ultimate goal is. We want to win them all and win our conference, but our goal is to be the best you can be. Our goal is to get better each game. Lets try to win them all but be the best team you can be.
Brandon Perry, DT, r-Sr.
Talk about getting the season started and going into what should be a pretty hostile environment."It is a great opportunity for us once again. We are just going to come out and do our best and try to limit mistakes and execute our plan."
In the past, you have had some injury issues, which have added to your weight gain. Everyone has been commenting on the fact that you have lost a lot of weight and are coming into the season healthy. How is your approach different? Are you more excited now? "I am more excited as far as playing. I am in a whole lot better shape. I do not have to worry too much about injuries now because I am in shape. That was my biggest problem."
How much were you able to pick up from those players who have already graduated? "A lot. Just listening to them day-in and day-out, telling me what I need to do. I watched them everyday and how they handled themselves and it really has helped me going into my senior year."
The defensive line had some pretty big parts come off it from a year ago. Talk about how you think the guys have developed throughout spring and fall camps. "We developed pretty well. We owe a lot to Coach (Les) Herrin who helps us everyday, not only on the field but off as well. It is a great opportunity working with Coach Herrin."
How much weight did you lose? "Fifty-four pounds."
How? "Working out with (strength) coach (Russell) Patterson, sun, eating right - putting more green stuff on my plate."
Talk a little about the Clemson running game, trying to stay on (C.J.) Spiller and dealing with their offensive line. "It is going to be a challenge. C.J. Spiller is a great running back. But with me being in the middle, talking to some of our other defensive linemen, I think they all have on their mind now to stop the running game and get them into a passing game."
Patrick Honeycutt, WR, r-Sr.
How do you feel about where you all are as far as learning the new offense? "We feel pretty good. Everything has been going pretty well at camp. Like Coach (Stockstill) said, we installed it in the spring, polished it up during the summer time and are now ready to go."
Clemson's defensive ends are pretty aggressive and high on ball pressure. Is that something, with so few seniors on the field, you have to be cognizant of and always give your quarterback an option early? "You always have to watch the blitzes. If they are going to bring a couple people off, then you have to be ready to run the hot route and look for the ball. I think we are prepared and we will see what happens on Saturday."
How much does it help that you guys have already played in hostile environments going into Clemson? "It helps a lot, knowing what to expect for the most part. When we played LSU a couple years ago when they won the national title, it was a pretty hostile environment. We have a good idea what to expect with the crowd noise and I think we will be ok."
How has the adjustment been from catching passes from Joe (Craddock) last year to catching the ball from Dwight (Dasher) this year? "It has been a fairly easy transition. Dwight has done a really good job. He is a good passer. A lot of people think he is just a runner, but he has done a really good job passing the ball this summer. We are looking forward to the season getting started."