Sparks Opening Statment: It's really going to be an exciting game because it is two teams hungary for a victory. Tusculum has now won two in a row and is finally playing the way, I think Coach Odom wants them to play or get closer in that direction. I'll let someone else describe the way we are playing, but our kids haven't quit so we have a chance and will continue to play hard and it will be a good ballgame.
Question One: How meaningful is it to you that the team hasn't given up on you during this season?
Sparks: Well it's what you preach all the time, we have a little saying "if we're breathing, we're fighting." I think that this bunch has stayed pretty faithful in their effort, we have a few individuals who have played with less confidence and that has hurt us. We've hurt ourselves tremendously this year. Saturday's game was another example of us having so many opportunites to win that ball game, but we refused to make the plays to win it. I'm proud of this bunch, but we just got to grow up.
Question Two: How is Tusculum different now that Jerry Odom is the head coach?
Sparks: Well he's been the defensive coordinator for years so he is putting a lot of emphasis on defense. They create a problem when you start three freshman offensive lineman that don't know who to block sometimes. They are not throwing the ball as much and they are relying more on the running game which has given us fits sometimes this year. They are solid with the kicking game. That's going to be the beginning point can we win the kicking game.
Question Three: What corrections have you made from last week to this week?
Sparks: I don't know, we'll keep coaching the same way and hopefully the lightbulb will come on. The lightbulb has come on with some of them.
Question Four: What do you hope some of these younger players learn from this senior class?
Sparks: The senior class is still here and giving good effort. A lot of them have made life long decisions about how they want to live there life in a positive way. There a group that wants us to do good things on this team, but i'm not sure they know how to lead us to get there.
Question Five: How can this last game of the year set the tone for the offseason and next season?
Sparks: I don't think there is any question that Johnny Long's job will be a whole lot easier if we finish with a win. Recuriting will be better too because coach's will probably be a little more upbeat. I think we need a win pretty bad.
Question Six: How would characterize what Noah Suber has done here at Carson-Newman?
Sparks: He has been faithful and open to growth. He hasn't been able to play with full healthy talent around him. He's been crippled throughout the season, but has always found away to play in the game on Saturday. I have a lot of respect for him. Back in my day i'd want him fighting with me and not me fighting against me because he is so tough.
Question Seven: How important has the punt team been in flipping the field this year?
Sparks: There is no question that every yard is important. You set the stage with that mostly with the kicking game. Then you make a lot of opportunities to win or lose with the kicking game. Jonathan (King) is a very talented guy that will have a great senior year to add on to this junior year. I have high hopes for Jonathan.
Question Eight: How hard is it for a kicker to do kickoffs, field goals, and punting in a game?
Sparks: That's very hard, because it is a whole different physiology of the body between punting and kicking. It's been hard on him but he answered the bell. The worst thing that happens to Jonathan is that he is such a team player that he wants to please everybody, and sometimes that leads to bad things. As he grows and develops he will get better.
Question Nine: How unique is it for Jonathan that someone from Carson-Newman is in the NFL punting?
Sparks: That's huge. There are two things an NFL team measures a punter on and that is how fast can they get rid of the ball and the second thing is hang time. They don't look at how far he can kick it but how high he can kick it. Jonathan is really good at directional kicking.
Question Ten: What makes Tusculum's middle linebacker so good?
Sparks: He just added on to what he started doing after his freshman year. He's very mobil, he's tough, and makes a lot of plays for them.
Question Eleven: What is the hallmark of there defense?
Sparks: To confuse the offense.