VIDEO: Ken Sparks press conference
JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn.—Carson-Newman football coach Ken Sparks held court in his weekly press conference Tuesday morning in the Eagle Club room ahead of Saturday's South Atlantic Conference matchup against Newberry.
The following is a written transcript form the Ken Sparks press conference.
Sparks opening remarks: Newberry is an extremely talented football team. They are big and fast, as always, and are leading the conference in a number of categories. The have proved through six ballgames that they are for real. It is going to be a good challenge and a good game. It's a chance to line up and prove some things, which is what we need to do. They have some good talent.
Q1: What sticks out to you about Raleigh Yeldell at quarterback?
Sparks: He is a playmaker that can run and throw. He enjoys having the ball in his hands when the game is on the line. He is not scared of making something happen. He is a really good football player and has been a thorn in our side for 103 years [laughs]. We have got to contain him, tackle him and knock a pass or two down in the process.
Q2: You are one and four over the past decade at Seitzler Field. What has been challenging about going over there to play a ballgame?
Sparks: We could list a whole bunch of things, but they are not real. They are imagined. It's not what, where, when, it's how and why is what mattered and how we play. Not where, when or who—those don't matter. We don't have control over those things. Those are variables. How we play is up to us and why we play is up to us. Are we playing for a greater cause or something deeper than just winning a ballgame? I hope so. How and why are the questions we are asking ourselves this week.
Q3: How do you ensure the defense doesn't have a false sense of security going up against a good Newberry offense?
Sparks: All you have to do is watch video. We are on a journey of trying to improve and get better and we have a long way to go. We are still a team in the making looking to improve. We need to do what we can do and quit worrying about what other teams are doing. We need to take care of the how and the why.
Q4: How do you think the two young quarterbacks and offensive line did on Saturday?
Sparks: There was some pluses and some minuses. We certainly aren't blocking the line of scrimmage like we need to. We are playing some freshman on the line though. We challenged the offense to take the ball and drive and on the opening drive we called one play. We said we were going to execute the one play and that's exactly what they did. That was good even though there were times it wasn't so pretty. We accomplished something we wanted to accomplish and hopefully taught ourselves that if we are able to halfway execute our bread and butter, we have a chance to read ourselves into a good play. The two freshman quarterbacks did a pretty good job. They weren't perfect but gave us something to build on for the future.
Q5: How do you think Noah Suber has handled the adversity of his injury?
Sparks: He has been unbelievable as far as a coach and a cheerleader on the sideline. Everyone respects Noah and everybody knows that he will fight until he drops. You are always glad to have a guy like that on your football team.
Q6: How was Jonathan King handled things?
Sparks: Not very pretty, but he has been getting the job done. He has been 2-for-2 on field goals, he's punted and kicked off. He had a pretty good day being thrown in and doing all the things that he has had to do. That's not the easiest transition but I believe he has done a great job. Jonathan King is a good athlete.
Q7: What aspect of the defense needs to perform well against Yeldell?
Sparks: It's the same thing every week. We have to tackle and line up right. We have to get off the blocks and tackle. We are going up against a big offensive line with big running backs. We have to get off blocks in order to go to the next step which is to tackle him.
Q8: Does it surprise you that Newberry is leaning more on the pass this year?
Sparks: It's like everyone else, you go with the talent. They are talented at quarterback, they have some good receivers and a big running back. I would say they are like everyone else. They think they can throw it and they try to do that to win.
Q9: How does their receiving corps compare to another talented receiving group you have seen this year in Mars Hill?
Sparks: They are a whole lot similar with height and speed. They have all played a whole lot too. It is a talented group.
Q10: Who is a guy that really sticks out to you on the defensive side of the football?
Sparks: Them. They really run to the football about as good as any team I've seen this year. They have team speed on defense and sprint to the football. They are big up front and have too good linebackers. They are bad and a good football team.
Q11: Any challenges going against that defense?
Sparks: Not really. It doesn't matter how you label a defense nowadays: 4-3, 3-4, 4-2, 3-3, whatever. Basically, people are going to line up in a verity of things so given a name to a defense don't mean a whole lot anymore.