Middle Tennessee Football held their weekly press conference to discuss the win over UT-Martin and look ahead to the next game, which is at Georgia.
Head Coach Rick Stockstill
Quarterback Brent Stockstill
Linebacker Darius Harris
Head Coach Rick Stockstill
"I'm not going to talk about last week unless you all have questions, then I'll answer them. Looking forward to playing Tennessee Martin here this weekend. They've got an excellent coaching staff. Jason Simpson has been there a long time now and he's done a great job building that program. They got beat last week against Missouri but looking at this team, they've got a lot of really dynamic players at the skill positions. They can run and their quarterback started their last five games last year as a true freshman. They're going to spread the field and try to use some fast screens and then hit you with the deep ball behind you. But this is a well-coached team defensively. They're all over the place and they're going to bring a lot of pressure. They're led by their linebacker group which is the strength of their team. They return 3 starters from that group led by Kevin Prather who's from Murfreesboro. He was a great high school player and has had a great career at UT Martin. They lost some guys last year in their secondary but it's an older group. They've got juniors and seniors who have played a lot. Their defensive line is very active and like I said, they're going to pressure you and come after you with blitzes, so we have to be ready for that. They're very sound in their kicking game. We've got to get ready to take on this tough football team this week."
Coach Stockstill on finishing drives:
"There's isn't any more emphasis on it then there has been. I don't think our defense got tired. I think both sides of the ball played their tails off. We didn't execute as well as we needed to on either side at critical times of the game. We always make it an emphasis. That's always the objective. We want to prevent them from scoring and try to score ourselves. We've got to do a better job of executing. I'll give Vanderbilt credit. They're a good football team. There were some obvious differences in the game. I told our team yesterday, I was proud of how they played, and proud of their toughness in that game. We just have to execute better and things will have the tendency to work out better in the end."
On the adjustments with the offensive line in the second half:
"They got a lot of pressure on Brent. He did a great job the whole game. The second half he scrambled out of some pressure situations and avoided some sacks and threw the ball away a couple of times. But our offensive line is going to be fine if we can stay healthy. We've got to do better than what we did obviously but I'm not downing that group one bit."
On the new rules:
"Like I've said all summer with the kickoff last year, if you would've started at the 25-yard line after every kickoff you would've averaged 8th in the country. So unless you have a dynamic guy back there, our philosophy this year is to fair catch it and take it on the 25-yard line, because you get a choice as to what hash mark you want it on. Our first kickoff was a bad kick. They caught it on the 14 and got it out to the 40 yard line. The next kick, they caught it on the 4 and got it to the 26. So the risk reward there right now, I don't see us taking a chance to not getting it to the 25 yard line. And on the fourth down when Tavares fumbled, the only person who can recover it is the person who can fumbled it. Chandler Brewer recovered it past the first down line, so Vanderbilt got the ball where Tavares fumbled it."
On UT Martin's QB Dresser Winn:
"Watching the games that he played in last year and the game against Missouri, I think you can see the confidence building in him. From the games he played last year, to starting last year, and starting this year against Missouri, he's more poised. He's a little bit more experienced and he's seen more plays. He can avoid stuff in the pocket and he's got good feet. I don't think he's a guy who's going to beat you running the ball but he can extend plays and get critical first downs for you on broken plays. He seemed to be an accurate quarterback. So I see the growth and maturity in him in the last five or six games."
On his teams growth after week one going into week 2:
"We saw a bunch of improvements last year when we lost to Vanderbilt, and then we went up to Syracuse and beat them. So hopefully we'll see that same step forward that we did last year and I have no doubt that we will. We made some first game mistakes against Vanderbilt that we need to get corrected. Like I said, there's something special about this team and I really believe that."
On how he can tell if his team has moved on from the loss:
"I was in the locker room after the game, and in the locker room yesterday and watched them practice. I was in the training room with them this morning. I know their mind is set and the toughness they have both mentally and physically. I've got no doubt in my mind. It's clich but you can't get too high when you win and you can't get too low when you lose. We've practiced for four weeks and played one game. I know this team better than anybody, I know these players and I have all of the confidence and all the faith in the world in them."
On what he saw from Wesley Bush and Kylan Stribling filling in for Jovante Moffatt at safety:
"Kylan did some good things in his first start. He missed a couple of tackles but he played really hard and didn't have mental mistakes or missed assignments. Blasingame is a big guy and you've got to give those guys credit sometimes. But I thought Kylan did some great things in his first start and will continue to get better. And Wesley started last year in the first game and then basically was on special teams the rest of the year. I thought he was a lot better. He played faster and more physical. I think he played in 25 snaps against Vanderbilt. So I thought he did a lot better job this year. And that's what you hope for. He got his feet wet last year but both of those guys are great football players.
On what UT Martin's RB LaDarius Galloway brings to the offense:
"I think with any running back, it always starts with the offensive line. You can see their offensive line coach Geep Wade's influence on them. They've got some young guys up there but they play tough and they're physical. You can see Geep's hand in that offensive line. He's done a great job so far. I think that's where it starts. Geep has been a great addition to their staff. Galloway is a tough, hard-nosed runner. He's got great speed and he's a downhill runner. He also catches the ball well out of the backfield.
Quarterback Brent Stockstill
On what he's seen about UT-Martin:
"They've got a good defense. Having to open up with Missouri, one of the most-high powered offenses in the country is always tough. They did a lot of really good things. They're creative, they kind of come from everywhere, and a lot of times you don't really know what they're doing. They like to force you into mistakes and can catch you off guard at times. We'll have to stay on our toes and have to prepare, have a great plan and execute that plan."
On UT-Martin's 3-3-5 defense:
"That's their base, but they'll run a little bit of everything. They change it up all the time and try to put you on their heels. They like to bring pressure from everywhere, but we've seen everything. I've been playing for a long time and these coaches have been coaching for a long time. We've seen a lot of different looks but this one will be tough and we'll need to prepare."
On the post-game locker room atmosphere:
"Personally, I learned a lot about our leadership. That was a really tough loss, but that's a really good team, that's an SEC team. I feel like a lot of people felt like we were supposed to walk in there and hand it to them. But we learned a lot about our leadership with Darius (Harris), Tyshun Render, Malik Manciel, and the offensive line. From talking after the game, we know that it's one heartbeat. Our offense didn't play its best and our defense hung in there for a while. We're not going to give up on one another, everybody is in this together. It's one game, we've got a long season to go so we'll bounce back. I'm still fired up about this team. "
On what the offense needs to improve:
"Other than the turnovers, we moved it ok. We'd cross the 50 and get into that 45-35 range and couldn't push through that. I think that's our achilles heel and we need to do better at finishing drives. It's a group effort, we can't get complacent and need to finish drives and put points on the board to help our defense out."
On his responsibility to lead the team after a loss:
"I take all of the responsibility, that's my job as a leader and as a quarterback. I try to make a point after every game to go up to every single guy on the team and let them know that we'll bounce back and that we'll get it fixed. We've got a lot of good players, especially for me, on this offense. I know we're capable of putting more than seven points on the board. I take full responsibility and I think we had a good day yesterday bouncing back at practice.
On making improvements from week one to week two:
"The same thing happened last year, and we bounced back from a tough loss to Vanderbilt and we bounced back with a power five win on the road. That's the makeup of this program and the way my dad runs this program, that no matter what happens, good or bad, we're going to come back and work. That's the type of players we have and hopefully, we'll be ready this week."
On familiar players from UT-Martin:
"I don't know anybody anymore, but my best friend from high school, Tae Martin, played there but last year was his last year. He was an all-conference safety. He texted me the other day to talk trash, but I know coach (Geep) Wade well. He did a lot of things for me and this program. There are some ties there, but not too many."
On the running backs performance:
"I thought they did a great job. We're really deep at that position between Tavares (Thomas), Terelle West, Chaton Mobley, Maurice (Gordon), and Brad (Anderson) is back there at times too. We're deep there and they all feed off of each other and they're very competitive. They're also all very selfless, it doesn't matter who gets the touches, they're supporting each other. They're hardnosed and love the game. You can see that, especially at the end of the game while we're down big, these guys are still running hard and competing until the very end. I like that group a lot and I have confidence in whoever's back there and have full faith that they will contribute to this team."
On the running back rotation:
"I don't know, that's coach (Tony) Franklin's job. I know if I was a running back, I'd want to stay in if I was the one getting chunks of yards and when I got tired, have somebody else come in. It's never a bad thing to have depth, and whoever is in there, I'll get them in the right spot for success."
Linebacker Darius Harris
On UT-Martin's Offense:
"They have some good players on the offensive side of the ball. With their quarterback and skill positions, they like to run a lot of spread and tempo. We're going to watch film this week and identify who their playmakers are or certain tendencies they have."
On what the coaches emphasized about the Vanderbilt performance:
They told us again that we need to win on first down. We didn't win on first down and there's a direct correlation from that to not winning on third down. We have to start out well and finish well, so although we had a good first half, but that needs to go through all four quarters."
On the new starters on the MT defense:
"The coaches will put in the players who know what to do. I have full confidence in whoever gets into the game. They'll know their assignments, they'll play fast, so I have no doubt in any of the guys."
On playing a home opener:
"It's a good feeling playing at home. The students come out, the fans come out, they get a chance to see you in person since some of them couldn't travel to the away game. It's a lot of intensity so we'll need to come out and be locked in, stay focused, and just play our game."
On Sunday practice:
"I like it, especially after a loss, you want to get back to see what you did wrong in the last game. It allows us to bounce back and learn from our mistakes going into next week. Mostly, it gives us a chance to get that nasty taste out of our mouths and just move forward."
On being ready for next week:
"We're ready to get out and show that that first game is not who we are as a team. We made some mistakes, but we also did some good things. We want to put it all together on Saturday and show that we're a good team all around."
On UT Martin Quarterback, Dresser Winn:
"He's a good playmaker. He's not a burner as a runner, but he can extend some plays and isn't afraid to use his legs and make some plays. He's a good thrower as well. We just have to contain him and follow our game plan for this week."