November 2010 Archives
Middle Tennessee Head Coach Rick Stockstill
Opening Comments: We had a good win last week against FAU. I was really proud of our team for the effort and toughness displayed. Mentally, we played well in all three phases of the game. This is our last regular season game. We still have an opportunity to reach one of our goals, which was to reach a post-season bowl game.
We are playing a really good FIU team this week. They are extremely fast on defense. Their defensive front is probably the best we have played all year. They are very athletic and can run. Their linebackers are active and their secondary guys can run, cover and do not give up a lot of big plays. They want to force you into a lot of mistakes.
Offensively, they revolve around wide receiver T.Y. Hilton. They try to get the ball in his hands eight to 10 times a game and then also in the kicking game. We must know where he is at all times. He will get his touches but we cannot let a five-yard catch turn into a big play. Their quarterback is very consistent. He will not beat you with his feet, but he is accurate and does a good job managing their offense. He protects the ball well. Their offensive line is strong and they have a good running back. They are second in the conference in most offensive categories.
They are 6-1 in conference play after losing their first four games in close non-conference contests. We have to play well and know what is at stake. We are not approaching this game as, if we do not win; we are not going to a bowl. We have to go down their and win this game. We want to have a great week of preparation and go play our best game on Saturday.
On team discussion of a bowl game: They know about it. I talked about it yesterday. I told them, if we win we go to a bowl game. They have been on the internet and in the newspapers and know if we win we will go. They do not know which one and neither do I. The most important thing is we have to win this game. They know you have to win to go, so we do not talk about it past that.
On team mood and focus: I do not believe you can be overly focused. I believe there is always more tape you can watch or period you can practice. I think we know what is at stake and we are acting like a mature team. We were more confident yesterday than any other time during the season. This is the first time we have won back-to-back games all year. The defense is more confident. They have played well. Offensively, we have gone eight quarters with only one turnover. We have not done that all year. As individual players they are playing better and getting a little bit of their swagger back. The offensive line is getting better. This is probably the first time in awhile we have put the same offensive line out there.
On improving along the offensive and defensive lines: I always believe that you win games up front on both sides of the ball. When you have success offensively, it is because you give your quarterback time and the running back room to run the football. I thought last week was really as good as they have been all year up front.
Defensively, we made them one dimensional. FAU is a team that is going to try to run the ball and pull play action and throw the ball over the top for the big play. We took that away by stopping the run. This got them out of their comfort zone and made them throw the ball more. If we can say we dominate up front on both sides of the ball, I would bet we win the game.
On T.Y. Hilton and getting him the football: They will line him up in the quarterback position as a wildcat. They run reverses with him and throw him the deep ball. He was hurt half of last year. As a freshman, you do not want to overload players. I do not know if it is as much they have found different ways to get him the ball or he is a third year player growing in the offense.
On winning the turnover battle and winning the game: I think it's essential. When I talk to the players on Mondays, the first thing I talk about is the turnovers. Games we have won, we have won the turnover battle and our losses came because we lost the turnover battle.
On both teams playing for season goals and motivating factors: I know we are motivated. They should be as well. We are ready to go. We had a good practice yesterday and we need have three more. I am proud of the players because they hung in there and kept battling when things did not look too good. I am proud of our seniors.
Defensive Tackle Dwight Smith
On team confidence: The confidence comes from winning. You finally see the results from all the hard work you have put in this year. We definitely have a little more confidence and swagger.
On the team going to a bowl: Coach Stockstill brought it up yesterday and the seniors said okay but no more bowl talk. We have to go out and win against FIU before we can talk about bowl games.
On team focus: Yesterday was probably the most focused Monday practice we have had all year. After putting together a win streak we want to keep getting better and improving.
Offensive Lineman Mark Fisher
On FIU's success rushing the passer this season: FIU is a smaller team up front. They like to use a lot slants as opposed to a straight up rush. That is how they get a lot of their sacks. It will be a challenge for us as an offensive line to know our assignments so we can stop their pass rush.
On the offensive line adapting to a fast past offense: At this point in the season we are in a comfortable position in an up tempo offense. We do it in practice everyday. When you run the ball effectively and quickly the defense gets tired and has a hard time getting back into position.
MT Athletic Communications
As we talked about earlier since the Blue Raiders played Florida Atlantic last Saturday the team had to stay on campus and practice on Thanksgiving day. We had to have practice earlier in the day but Coach Stockstill also wanted to make sure the players were able to enjoy the traditions of Thanksgiving since many of the players were spending their first holiday away from their friends and family. To offset this Director of Football Operations, Chris Matusek, worked with Coach Stockstill to plan a big Thanksgiving dinner for the team, student staff and coaches and their families. As you may have guessed this was no small undertaking since this is a large group that has a very healthy appetite.To help create a true Thanksgiving feel Video Coordinator, Andrew Rossetti, spent the morning setting up a satellite dish on the roof of the JUB and running cable so he could show the afternoon NFL game, Cowboys vs. Saints, during the meal.
To accommodate a large group this is how it was setup:
- 2 large buffet lines
- 1 large carving station
- 1 large ice cream station
- 1 large pie/dessert station
How much food was actually prepared for this large group? Well the quantities are staggering when you see them and consider just how much food was prepared and consumed last Thursday...
140 lbs. of Turkey
60 lbs. of Ham
85 lbs. of Mashed Potatoes
62 lbs. of Cornbread Dressing
55 lbs. of Sweet Potatoes
45 lbs. of Green Beans
42 lbs. of Broccoli
22 lbs. of Lettuce for Salad
(8) Pumpkin Pies
(8) Pecan Pies
(8) Chocolate Mousse Pies
(6) Caramel Apple Cakes
6 lbs. of Ice Cream plus assorted toppings (m&m's, whip cream, snickers, reese's pieces, wet nuts, caramel, chocolate syrup, nuts, cherries & strawberries)
Thanks go out to Kathryn Crockett and the rest of her Aramark staff that spent most of their Thanksgiving setting up our meal and preparing all of our food!
Even though Thanksgiving was last Thursday the Blue Raiders had a big game against Florida Atlantic to prepare for so the show must go on so to speak. Since coaches and players love to stay in a common routine Coach Stockstill tried to plan out the day to stay as normal as possible.
Here is how the football related functions of Thanksgiving went...
8:00am - Staff Meeting
11:30am - Taping begins
12:30pm - Team Meeting
1:30pm - Practice Begins
Even though the players are coaches weren't able to spend the whole day with their families gourging on turkey and watching football it was a very spirited and fun practice, which obviously paid off on Saturday!
Here are some shots from last Thursday's Thanksgiving practice.
The Sun Belt Conference announced today that Middle Tennessee junior linebacker Darin Davis has been named the league's Defensive Player of the Week. It marks the first honor in Davis' Blue Raider career.
Davis set a Sun Belt record with 101 yards on his two second-half interception returns, setting up a pair of Middle Tennessee offensive touchdowns in the 38-14 win over FAU. The 101 yards also ranks as the second-most for a single-game at Middle Tennessee, just four yards shy of the record 105 yards by Jimmy Saunders against Tennessee Tech in 1978.
His first return was for 49 yards to the 1-yard line, while his second went for 52 yards down to the 5-yard line and were his second and third interceptions of the 2010 campaign. Davis added five tackles, including four solo stops, as the Blue Raider defense allowed a season-low 256 yards.
The award gives the Blue Raiders 39 player of the week honors under Rick Stockstill with nine on offense, 15 on defense, and 15 on special teams.
MT Athletic Communications
Middle Tennessee's Jeremy Kellem has been named to the 2010 ESPN Academic All-America Football Second Team as selected by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA). Kellem is the fourth academic all-american in school history and the first since Bryan Faulkner was honored in 1991.
Kellem is majoring in Organizational Communication and carries a 3.58 grade point average. He is the only student-athlete from the state of Tennessee or the Sun Belt Conference to be recognized on either the first or second team.
The senior is impressive on the field as well. Entering this weekends game against FAU, Kellem is second in the Sun Belt Conference and tied for 31st nationally with 92 total tackles. The North Lauderdale, Fla., native has put together five straight games with double digit stops.
For his career, Kellem has played in 47 games and earned 40 starts while also earning first team All-SBC honors in 2009.
MT Athletic Communications
Here is video from yesterday's pre-FAU press conference...
Click on the image above for the full story!!
The Sun Belt Conference announced today that Middle Tennessee senior defensive back Rod Issac has been named the league's Defensive Player of the Week. It marks the first honor in Issac's Blue Raider career.
Click on the image above for the full story!!
Middle Tennessee spotted Western Kentucky an early lead less than five minutes into the game, saw the Hilltoppers build it to 26-13 in the second half, then rallied in the fourth quarter to take a thrilling 27-26 win in Bowling Green on Saturday afternoon.
Quotes from Tuesday's football press luncheon
Middle Tennessee Head Coach Rick Stockstill
Opening Comments: WKU is a vastly improved team from a year ago. They had a nice overtime win against Arkansas State last week and beat Louisiana-Lafayette earlier in the year. They have had some close losses this season. They are a very good running football team. Bobby Rainey is a very good running back and leads the nation in attempts, while being among the conference leaders in all rushing categories. Their quarterback is playing very consistent as well, but their offense runs through their tailback.
Defensively, the thing that stands out the most compared to last year's team is that they are not allowing the big play. Last year against them we had several big plays.
It goes back to us. We have to tackle well and get them on the ground. On offense we have to protect the football. Last week when WKU played Arkansas State, ASU turned the ball over five times. When you do that, it is hard to beat people. That has been our Achilles heal all season.
On RB Bobby Rainey: All good running backs run better late in the game the more carries they get. Running the ball is a physical play every play. The longer your defense is on the field, the more chance you have of missing a tackle. They do a great job of controlling the clock. They are well above most teams in the country on time of possession. He is not really big, but he runs behind his pads and does not get knocked back much.
On Middle Tennessee's defensive front seven being challenged when opposing running backs get a high number of carries in a game: A little bit. We have to be better on first down. We are giving up five or six yards on first down, so they can then run the ball on second and third down. To me that is the bigger concern. I think we have good depth and our guys are playing well up front. We have to be more successful on first down to lengthen second and third down opportunities.
On the team's nickel defense having trouble stopping opposing running games: We played a lot of nickel against Monroe because they did not run the ball. Against Arkansas State and North Texas we did not play as much because they ran the ball.
On WKU's offensive philosophy resembling a west coast offense: They get under center more than what we have seen the last two weeks. They will still run the ball out of the shotgun and from under center. They are a little bit more play-action pass, but can still run the ball out of the shotgun. It is not as much of a west coast passing attack as it is a running attack.
On the quality of this WKU team: When we went up their in 2008, I thought they were a really good football team. To me this is the most athletic team they have had. They have some really dynamic skill players. This may be as good, if not better, than the 2008 team. They have some fast people on defense and their running back and quarterback make them really good on offense.
On team turnovers: It makes me sick every day I get out of bed. I get sick talking about it. It is embarrassing and frustrating. As a coach if your team gets beat and you do everything you can, you can live with that. When you get beat and you do not give yourself a chance that is what you hate the most. We are turning the ball over too much. We are not giving ourselves a chance and we are all to blame.
On the WKU vs. MT rivalry: This will be the fourth straight year we have played. Our players can sense it is a huge conference game that is only 90 miles up the road. They are beginning to understand the history and the importance of this game to those who played it in the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s. The first time we played four years ago, no one on the team was even born the last time Middle Tennessee and WKU last played each other. Over time it builds and I think it has turned into a very good rival. Our players and their players understand the rivalry.
Offensive Lineman Mark Fisher
On being recruited by WKU: I was recruited by WKU. They have nice facilities, but I did not feel it was the right place for me. Middle Tennessee had a great community and there were some guys up here I knew. The coaching staff here was also important in bringing me here.
On WKU wanting to win because of Middle Tennessee's victory in 2009: We are not really worried about them. We are just worried about us. We are killing ourselves with turnovers right now and we have to get that corrected. We have to do the little things like carrying the ball well, not throwing interceptions. As long as we play Middle Tennessee football we will be fine.
We know if we did not have the turnovers early in the season, we would be right where we need to be. That is not on the coaching staff.
On teams playing extra defenders in the box against the run: Teams are not thinking of us as a passing offense right now. We are more of a rushing team right now. We are seeing more in the box.
Defensive Lineman Dwight Smith
On RB Bobby Rainey: He is very balanced. He can beat you with his speed or his power. I see him as a complete back. We must do a great job against him or we will be in the same position we were last week. That is our focus this week, getting our game plan down and getting everything solid.
It is about outlasting him. It he gets thirty to forty touches a game and he waits to get open. It is hard. I do not think he gets discouraged when things do not go his way.
On playing on first down: You can call what you want on second and third down when you give up a lot of yards on first down. That changes it. We have to do better on first down this week.
We cannot have missed assignments or we are going to get hurt. Hopefully we can have better focus this week.
On the rivalry growth between MT vs. WKU: When I first got here, I did not know anything about the rivalry. You walk around in the community and campus and you learn to respect it more. To me it will be more than in the past few years.MT Athletic Communications
Here is your chance to help Middle Tennessee beat rival Western Kentucky and help others in the process!!
Middle Tennessee State University and Director of Athletics Chris Massaro have challenged Western Kentucky to a blood donation drive to see whose fans will lend a hand and hold out an arm.
The campaign, "Bleed Blue to Beat WKU," will be held Nov. 15-18, leading up to the football game between the two schools on Saturday, Nov. 20. Both universities have partnered with the American Red Cross and plan to make this an annual event the week prior to their clash on the gridiron each season.
"This is an excellent opportunity to help the community and save lives at the same time. It is even better when you can make it a competition against your biggest rival," Massaro said. "I hope Middle Tennessee and Western Kentucky can make this event an annual success. I encourage all Blue Raider fans to come help us with this noble cause."
To be counted in the competition all blood donations will be collected at the Recreation Center on the campus of Middle Tennessee State University. Middle Tennessee student-athletes, student ambassadors, fraternities and sororities will be checking in donors and handing out juice and cookies after donations have been made.
Donors do not need to make an
appointment, but they must be 17 or older, weigh at least 110 pounds and
be in generally good health. They also must provide identification.
Parking for those donating blood will be in the gravel lot on MTSU Boulevard or at the Recreation Center.
The winner of the blood drive challenge will be announced at halftime of the MT-WKU game on Saturday, Nov. 20, in Bowling Green, Ky.
"Bleed Blue to Beat WKU" Red Cross Donation Hours at the MTSU Recreation Center
Monday, Nov. 15 Noon-6 p.m.
Before today's team meeting got going Coach Stockstill did his weekly announcement of this week's team captains...
Tavarres Jefferson- Sophomore / Wide Receiver / Nashville, TN
Derrick Crumpton- Junior / Safety / Miami, FL
David Jones- RedShirt Freshman / Linebacker / Memphis, TN
Middle Tennessee Head Coach Rick Stockstill
Opening Comments: North Texas is a very improved team. I saw them the first game of the season when they played Clemson, and I said I thought they were the most improved team in the conference at that time. They are really good. They have two one point losses and two losses by less than a touchdown. They have been in every game they have played.
They are doing a good job running the football. Our first job on defense is going to be to stopping the run.
Their defense is one, two or three in most defensive categories. They are big up front, their secondary can run. They have done a good job protecting the football the last three or four weeks, which has given them a shot to stay in all the games they have played.
Neither team has a good record, but I do not think it will have anything to do with this game. I think it is going to be a really good football game and it will come down to the team that protects the football the best. We have to play much better than we did last week.
On running the football more in certain situations against ASU and will the team shy away from passing as a result of turnovers: Dwight (Dasher) was not throwing the ball particularly well against ASU and we had to get something going. We will go into this game without any preconceived ideas that we are going to run the ball more than we are going to throw it or vice versa. We will do what we have the most success with. The bottom line is we have to stop turning the ball over. I am tired of seeing turnovers.
On Dwight Dasher's running in 2010 being as effective as in 2009: I do not think it has been as effective as it was last year. He had a long run against ASU for a touchdown. He had a long run against ULM off a draw for 30 or 40 yards. Defenses are doing a better job containing him. Linebackers are staying in and manning up Dwight. He has not had as many opportunities as a result of the way defenses are playing us.
On a Sun Belt race for other bowls besides the New Orleans Bowl and the conference championship: That is what we have to shoot for right now. We are out of winning the conference unless someone knocks off Troy. The only thing you can control is winning this game. I told the team Monday we were not going to talk about winning two or three in a row, we need to be worried about correcting our mistakes and winning this game.
On encouraging quarterback Dwight Dasher to throw the ball away or run: To me he forced several of those interceptions. I coach him every snap about protecting the ball and being smart with it. There were different times in the ASU game when we were getting down by multiple scores and he wanted to make something happen, but sometimes he needs to tuck the ball and run.
On team moral after a difficult start with high team expectations: Nothing surprises you in this profession. Yes, I am frustrated. Some of the things you could not control. You could not control Dwight's situation and you could not control the injuries. The thing that frustrates me the most is our inability to protect the football. We have turned it over an inexcusable amount of times. We also have not been able to stop people on defense. These are things we can control.
On team depth late in the season: Depth is vital. We are beat up. People like Preston Bailey impress me because they are hurt and they are out their gutting it up. Last year we were lucky and able to stay healthy along the offensive line.
At cornerback we were set back when Kenneth Gilstrap was not able to come back and we redshirted him. With Rod (Issac) possibly unable to go, it really hurts us.
On Jamari Lattimore's ability to sack the quarterback: Jamari is fast and he has a strong motor. He uses his hands really well in pass rush. To me the thing that helps him more than anything is his get off. He times the snap really well and gets off the line fast. He is a smart football player and his natural athletic ability allows him to make a play you and I could not make.
Defensive Tackle Dwight Smith
On team competing for a second bowl: We are at a point now where it is win or go home. We cannot go out Saturday and try to win four games. We have to take care of North Texas and then worry about who is on the schedule next when that game is over.
On UNT's Lance Dunbar: He is very talented. The first time we saw him was last year when he broke a long one against us. He is very talented and could be the best running back in the conference.
On stopping the run: As long as we stop the big play, we will be fine against the run. We have to stop the 30 and 40 yard pops. We can handle the six and seven yard gain. We just cannot make the six and seven yard gains turn into 30 and 40 yard gains.
On team moral: We had the rest of last week off which rejuvenated the team. We had a good practice yesterday and we are ready to go.
Offensive Tackle Mark Fisher
On team moral: We have four games left and a chance to go to a bowl game. We cannot go out Saturday and try to win four games in one. We have to get back to practice and do the hard things.
On turnovers: On the offensive line, we cannot control what happens. Once we do our job, it is out of our hands. You do not want to go around pointing fingers because that is not what this team is about. We hold each other accountable.
On the offensive line having to change positions as a result of injuries: We are very experienced. A lot of us have experience and know all the positions. It is not that hard for us. We just have to stay focused in practice.
On facing UNT's Brandon Akpunku: He is a really good player and really fast with his hands. I got to play him last year. However, it is nothing I have not seen. I get to go against Jamari Lattimore in practice everyday. With him there is not much I have not seen.
Credit-MT Athletic Communcations
The Sun Belt Conference announced its Sun Belt Network wildcard game for November 20 would be Middle Tennessee's game at Western Kentucky. The game time is set for 3:15 PM CT.
Locally, the game will be shown on CSS Comcast Channel 27.
The Sun Belt Network game of the week is shown across 13 states in the southeast and will also be available on ESPN3.com and ESPN GamePlan outside of the CSS and CST markets.
Joe Block (play-by-play), Cole Cubelic (analyst), and Sandra Golden (sideline) will call the action.Through the CSS Network over 15 million households across the Southeast will get to see the Blue Raiders take on the Hilltoppers.