Sept. 16, 2008
Opening Statement: It was good to be home. I thought the crowd responded, we put the challenge out there and I thought they were amazing. The student section, for the first time since we've been here, was full and very loud. When I went into the locker room after the game and was shaking the hand of the defensive players, six or seven of them were talking about the crowd and what a difference it made as Memphis checked at the line of scrimmage. It was good to be home and good to get that first conference win. We're going on the road to play a very good Southern Miss team. As I look at both teams, we are very balanced on offense. There a lot of similarities, playmakers on both sides of the ball on both teams. The key for us is to go down there and not make mistakes.
On first-year Southern Miss coach Larry Fedora's impact on the team: Its hurry, hurry. He still believes in running the football, but he wants to get 80-85 plays in and in order to do that, it has to be very fast-paced, it will be faster than what we faced last week. They are pretty good on defense, I don't see a bunch of changes. They are still very aggressive, playing a lot of man, changing it up, they are very athletic on defense. I don't see many changes on defense with them, offense is where all of the changes were made.
On the play of the defense against Memphis: We were not as aggressive, we played more "bend but don't break". Our game plan going in was to play great red zone defense and we were able to get that done.
On the difficulty of playing at Southern Miss: Its a lot like our place, you look at our record at home. Southern Miss is just a hard place to play, they have great fans. Their players feed off of them just like our player feed off of our fans. You cannot turn the ball over and have blocked punts and a lot of penalties to give them anything to cheer about because it brings their team to life, just like our team.
On the potential return of Cody Slate this weekend: Having Cody back this weekend will definitely help Mark (Cann). It gives him somebody else to go to, not that Lee Smith is doing a bad job, he has been doing a great job, he is a big target, but it helps.
On the team holding Memphis to 16 points on Saturday:
I was very proud of them. We created a turnover in the red zone, made them kick field goals and played the long ball decently. I'm very proud of our young corners, that was a big boost for them, it was a good wideout corps that we just faced.
On the balance of the Southern Miss offense: They are very balanced. They are right around 50/50 run to pass. He (Coach Fedora) does a very good job with the play calling.
On the offensive line's potential impact against Southern Miss: That is the key to the game. Our offensive line has to step up to the challenge. They (the USM defensive line) are athletic, big, strong, they run around extremely well, they bring a lot of pressure.