Oct. 21, 2013
Press Conference Audio (Courtesy: @HerdCotton)
Marshall-MTSU Game Notes
"Captains this week on defense are James Rouse who has been a captain multiple times and plays extremely well. Darryl Roberts is our other defensive captain. Chris Jasperse and Garrett Scott will be our offensive captains. Leadership, when you go on the road, is critical and it will be important that not only those guys, but the rest of the captains do a great job. It's a little bit different timing this week because of the Thursday night game, but because we had the bye week last week we've had a normal week of preparation. Tuesday started yesterday, today was a Wednesday practice and we will come back tomorrow and it'll be a Thursday practice right on schedule. Wednesday we will get on the plane and head to Middle Tennessee State University. MTSU is an excellent football team. It starts with their quarterback Logan Kilgore. He has set just about every record there is to set at MTSU. He had tremendous success there a year ago. They have two excellent tailbacks in Jordan Parker and Reggie Whatley. It'll be a big challenge for us. Defensively they are very physical and lead the country in creating turnovers so that will be a point of emphasis in our game. We can't turn the ball over and they've done a great job at creating those things. It'll be a tremendous challenge for our guys and we have to make sure that doesn't happen."
On MTSU's rotating between two quarterbacks:
"I think Kilgore will be the quarterback because he has done so much for them. He had tremendous success a year ago and I'm be surprised if it is not Kilgore at quarterback. I'm sure they'll probably try to play both him and the freshman quarterback Austin Grammer. I don't believe that their offense is going to change a whole lot. However, when Grammer goes in, he runs the ball a lot more than what Kilgore does. We've prepared for both, but if I was guessing I'd say it will be Kilgore."
On preparing for a team with two very different quarterbacks:
"You have to prepare, but they don't do a whole lot different offensively. With Grammer in the game, it's more of a run-first offense, but with Kilgore, he likes to throw the ball. They're both excellent quarterbacks, we're prepared for both and I'm sure we'll see both."
On playing MTSU:
"I think the benefit is that we have had a little extra time to prepare for them, which will help us. Any time that you go on the road, it's always a great challenge to go to someone else's arena and go play them. Our kids have had a great week of preparation and they prepared extremely well. I look forward to going and playing. I think we'll do well."
On the outstanding performance of the defense and going against a MTSU team with injuries on offense:
"To be honest the left side of their offensive line will be the best offensive line we've played against. Their left guard and left tackle are going to play in the NFL one day. They're excellent. I'm not saying that because we are playing them; just go watch them on film. They are extremely good and extremely physical. I think the guys they've plugged in at right guard, right tackle and center have played well, but that left side of their line has played a lot of football. They're really good players. That will be a challenge for our guys, but our defensive line has to play well because it starts up front physically and they will have to be physical to be able to play with these guys."
On the possibility of MTSU moving left offensive linemen to right:
"Well they've had the opportunity to do that the last three games and they didn't do it. It's not like that center and right guard are playing for the first time. They played the last three games. I think it's the third game in a row that the freshman right guard Daniel Stephens will start. He's gotten his feet wet and done some really good things. I don't see them changing now at this point. That left side will be a challenge for us and they play extremely well."
On MTSU's size on defense:
"It's similar to what we had against us with UTSA. They're very physical. Not only are they physical up front defensively, but their linebackers are extremely physical. Safety Kevin Byard is a linebacker playing safety and I think he has led the team in tackles the last two weeks. He's a really good player that comes downhill and makes plays. There's a reason they are number one in the country in creating turnovers because they play extremely physical and give you a lot of looks. They are very aggressive with the way they play. We've worked hard all week handling that style of play and we have to make sure we do a great job at it Thursday night."
On the bend-but-don't-break attitude of MTSU's defense:
"Turnovers have been a major plus for them. They've given up some yards, but when they get in the red zone, they're better. They're a good defense. They are very athletic and there's a reason they went into Georgia Tech a year ago and put up a bunch of points on Georgia Tech and beat them at their place. They have so many good players and a lot of those players are back playing again this year."
On Marshall's performance when slowing down the tempo:
"We've had some success doing that, but I do think we have to be able to do what we do well. We've played well slowing the tempo here at home, but we have to be able to do both and do both well. We'll mix and match a bit on Thursday night, but we have to be able to play fast and control it when we want to."
On the progress of running back Kevin Grooms and his mentality:
"It's been difficult for all of us mentally because he is a good player and he is very explosive. You want to see him back to where he was. I'm seeing more of that. I saw a little bit of it at FAU and he has had a week and a half since then. He's going to be a whole lot healthier going into Thursday night than what he has been. I'm anxious to go watch him play because when he is healthy he is an outstanding player. I think it's harder for a skill guy to come back quick from those types on injuries. Brandon Sparrow had the same injury, but nobody in here is talking about Sparrow. He's gone in there and just played, but it's different with a defensive lineman than it is with a skill player. Sparrow has come along a lot quicker with that same injury because of the position he plays. It is magnified when you are a tailback, wide out or skill guy who has to make all these cuts and moves. Grooms is a lot closer now than what he was and that is good for us."
On the running game cooling down over last couple games:
"I think a lot of it is just taking what that defense gives us. There's no doubt that we have to play better offensively in all phases than what we did a week ago and we will. We have to get back to those last couple drives. We looked how we were supposed to look out there. We were moving the ball both running it and throwing it. You have to do both and have to do a great job at taking what the defense gives you. We have to get back to doing a better job of that than the last time we played."
On using the open week to prepare more for MTSU:
"We didn't really change a lot. The last open day we had before UTSA we went with pads both days because of perimeter runs. We worked the chops and the cracks, options and the perimeter run stuff for two solid weeks. We got into them a little early too. We did the same thing with MTSU. We didn't change a lot. We worked on MTSU and increased our individual periods by about 10-15 minutes both weeks to work more on fundamentals, techniques, tackling and that type of thing. We kind of followed the same format with just one less day with the game coming on Thursday."
On the benefits of a Thursday night game:
"I like Thursday night games because of the exposure our program gets. Any time we can get the "M" on television on a national stage it helps recruiting and helps in all areas. From an exposure standpoint I do like it. What people don't understand is the amount of class time our kids miss. Normally today is an off day for us, but we had to practice today, we had to meet this morning because we have a four o'clock class that our kids have to get to on Mondays. They'll miss just about all day Wednesday afternoon because of travel. They'll miss Thursday. They need to be in class at 8 a.m. Friday morning, but they won't even get back to Huntington until about 4 a.m. The amount of time that the kids miss in the classroom is bothersome. They have to find a way to get it done in the classroom and they do. The exposure that Marshall gets is tremendous. The last thing I tell them every Thursday night as we leave the practice field is who is playing Thursday night. I tell them to go home and turn that game on and watch. That's what every coach in America is going to be telling their team Thursday night...'Go watch the Marshall and Middle Tennessee game and see what they're all about'. The exposure is outstanding and we are lucky to get that."
On the boost coming off of the win over FAU:
"Anytime you win going into an open week you feel better and have a little more bounce in your step. Your food tastes better, you feel better about yourself and you enjoy getting up and going to work, if you are a player or coach, a whole lot more with a win. There's no doubt that does help you and the confidence. Our kids need to learn from that experience and they will. I think you grow as a team and the leadership part of it. I told them on the practice field today that we have to play this entire game like we played the last three possessions of the FAU game."
On tight end Gator Hoskins performance:
"We talk about not being great on the outside and needing to make more plays there. Devon Smith has been pretty good out there. He is a solid outside guy that has made plays. You have receiver Tommy Shuler inside and Gator inside, that's three guys that can all make plays. There are other guys that have stepped up and made plays too. Anytime you start bracketing you are giving up something somewhere, whether it is the run game or a receiver elsewhere. Gator was not bracketed on that last play he made against FAU to go get that touchdown. He's a good player and anytime you can get him matched up on a safety or a linebacker he normally has a pretty good shot at winning that matchup. He's done a great job with that and it has to continue too."