Oct. 17, 2000
- ON THE TEAM'S IMPROVING INJURY SITUATION: ''We're starting to get some of these guys who have been out back. It looks like Avery Warner (hamstring) will be able to go this week, Marlon Bush (knee) will go, Maurice Gallery (knee) will go, Willie Quinnie (knee) is looking better. All of those guys should be back in the rotation. We are pretty close to having everybody back. We've just got to get them back on the field and get them ready to play. We've lost three for the season, all offensive linemen -- Kevin Grace (broken hand, leg), James Orrick (knee), and Brett Richards (shoulder). Two of them (Grace, Richards) were starters. But it's starting to get a little better.''
ON FACING MIDDLE TENNESSEE THIS WEEK: ''I think it will be a dogfight this Saturday, because of the style of offense Middle Tennessee plays. They have a kid who has rushed for over 300 yards in a game this season (Dwone Hicks). I think he's ranked third in the nation in rushing right now. He's from Huntsville, we recruited him hard and thought he was coming here, but he decided to go to Middle Tennessee. Their offense has really played well. Middle Tennessee has played some really good teams, like Florida, Illinois, and Maryland. They're averaging about 200 yards rushing and 200 yards passing per game. I believe they are a better offensive team than Kansas or LSU. Their offensive style is a lot like Louisville's and they really gave us some problems. This is a game that they've probably been looking toward as one they can win if they really play well. I'm not concerned about our players taking them lightly at all, they can see on the tape we've watched that this is a good team, especially on offense. In my opinion, it will be a dogfight."
ON HIS DEFENSIVE TEAM'S DEVELOPMENT THIS SEASON: "I knew we had good talent and good depth coming into the season, but obviously I was concerned about the lack of experience in the secondary. We've been pleased with the progress we've made. I have been a little surprised at how dominant we've been at times, a lot of that has to do with our depth. For example, a guy like Rodney Jones, a backup defensive lineman, has played very well and made big plays. He made a big one at the end of the Memphis game last week, driving the guard who was blocking him right into the quarterback just when he was releasing the pass. The ball goes up into the air and Nick (Stewart) made a nice interception, but it was Rodney Jones who made that play happen, and he's a backup. I have been concerned that we have given up some big plays. I thought Louisville picked on us some. I thought they did a really good job of finding ways to spread us out and pick on us. That's one of my concerns about the Middle Tennessee game, because they run a very similar offense. We've just got to work really hard to get those things corrected as best we can."
ON THE MEMPHIS GAME AND JEFF AARON'S PERFORMANCE:
"It was really a great football game. We had to fight for our lives, but that has been the case in all but one game (the 47-2 win over Louisiana-Lafayette) this season. I thought Jeff was fantastic in his first start. He wasn't perfect, but his confidence and spirit really picked up the other players, and he showed a lot of leadership. Down the stretch, when we had to make plays to win, he made all of them, and that helped the others to make plays, too. It was a shame that he didn't get the touchdown on the pass to T.J. (Simmons) in the first half (the catch was ruled out of bounds in the end zone), there aren't too many quarterbacks that could have made a throw like that, from about 40 yards out. It was a `frozen rope.' I'm sure that the opposing coaches that are looking at that throw on tape are thinking about how they can't afford to overplay us on certain routes because of Jeff's arm and touch."