JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – Mike Turner discusses the Eagles first road trip of the season against Wingate in his weekly press conference in the Eagle Club Room.
Turner Opening Statement: We're excited to be going to Wingate, it's our first South Atlantic Conference game. We know that Wingate is a tough opponent, they've been a great opponent against Carson-Newman. We know that this is their first home game, their first night game, I guess in the history of their stadium. So they are going to be excited and pumped up. We have to go out and play sound football, we have to go out and match that excitement.
Q 1: Do you put emphasis on it being a night game?
Turner: Not at all, it's a six o'clock game it will be eight o'clock before it is dark. We've already played a night game here, and our kids are use to that and I don't think that it will be an issue at all being a night game. I think the number one thing is being sound in what we are doing. We talked as a staff this morning, sound defensively, sound offensively, sound in the kicking game, because you always want to give our kids the best chance to execute and making sure it's a simple plan, both sides of the ball, so that they can go out and turn loose.
Q 2: Offensively, you started out slow last week versus St. Augustine's. How do you make sure that doesn't happen again?
Turner: I hoped we've done some better preparation, I thought that we were prepared for that. I think that our young men have to realize and they did at that point, that when you get a team that the week before got beat 49-0, that doesn't mean anything on the next Saturday. We're good enough to be a good football team, if we come out and play wide open and excited, fired-up the way we did in the first game. We got fired-up and excited in the second half and looked like a pretty good football team. We're just good enough to do it that way but we're also dangerous enough, if we don't then we are not going to meet our goals and things that need to get done.
Q 3: Why has Dorren Miller been so good at picking up yards after the play?
Turner: I think sometimes Dorren may trick them and they may not think that he is as fast as he is. He's got great speed, but again I go back to how hard he has worked to develop himself. He's a guy that's earned the right to win, he's a guy that's earned the right to be successful at his position. After looking at those stats, I need to find a way to get him the ball more often. We've got to do a better job of getting the ball in his hands.
Q 4: Wingate rotates running backs, how are the similar and how are they different?
Turner: I think that they are very similar in that they want to get you in a situation, where they are in a two or three tight end set and can run the ball down hill on you. Football is football, if you're going to try and win a football game, you've got to stop the run first. It doesn't matter if it's a spread team or a two tight end team, if a defense is going to win you got to stop the run first and then make them go to the next level.
Q 5: How many times have you faced an opponent that has two running backs that have won more accolades than your running backs?
Turner: That's happened before on different teams and different seasons that we've had. Those two guys are very talented, and very dangerous and they are doing a good job of getting the ball in their hands. You've got people with that kind of talent, get the ball in their hands and let them make plays. In this game, regardless of your position the idea of this game is to make plays, that's how you win football games.
Q 6: How do you make sure the younger players get prepared for going on the road this week?
Turner: I just put on the first half of last week's game. That's a very humbling experience, when you keep going backwards. I would hope that we're somewhat embarrassed over some of the things that we did. We allowed some things to happen that shouldn't have happened to us, with the pre-snap penalties, that's a drive killer. I'm grateful for the way the defense responded, they never backed down and they shut them down in the early parts of the first quarter and the second quarter. So, that we could keep the lead going into halftime. I'm just so thankful for those kids and their heart and their effort. They weren't going to be denied of going out there and playing and having a good time.
Q 7: How has the offensive line come together this year?
Turner: I think we showed there in the second half that they are coming together and you're still looking at three or four freshman and two or three sophomores playing. They don't have a choice, they have to gel. The success of this program, the success of this offense, those are the guys that have to excel. We're getting another one or two to get healthy and get in there and get some more reps. It goes back to keeping it simple, and that's what we want to do. It wasn't a non-simple game plan Saturday, trust me. We just can't make those pre-snap mistakes. You take those out of the game and you have a different start.
Q 8: What do you think the key is for this weekend?
Turner: I think it's for both sides of it is, who can move the line of scrimmage. That's what they are trying to do and our defense is trying to deny that and vice versa. We just got done watching the video from last year as a staff this morning. It's about offensive line play and it's about defensive line play, and there are not many football games that get down to that. That is the truth.
Q 9: How do you sum up Sha'heem Stupart's career?
Turner: He's a great young man, he's got a great mom and she's just a pleasure to have every time she comes up here. He's come from a great background, but he's a kid that won't be denied. He's a kid that's grown into a man the last two or three years, and obviously the more you grow up as a man, the more you grow as believer, the better football player you're going to be.
Q 10: What does James Whitaker bring to the table?
Turner: I think that he is a talented young man, he'll make plays, and I also see that they are breaking in a new quarterback and featuring two running backs. That helps take care of quarterback coming into a new system. So all the pieces fit together there.
Q 11: What was the mood like going into the locker room after the first half of Saturday's game?
Turner: I think the mood coming out of the locker room was great. You go into the locker room and you got some guys that they know that they messed up. They know that they got penalties, you can take that and beat a kid down with it or raise him up from it. I hope that at Carson-Newman we are in the business of raising a kid up and giving him a chance to redeem himself. Our kids responded in the right way. Again, we took care of the football, we let it hit the ground a few times, but we recovered it. We are still working with some growing pains inside right there and we got to work those out. You look forward to the day that those kids lineup and say, "I got this figured out," I promise you what we're doing is very simple and it's just a matter of executing.
Q 12: How do you make turnovers a point of emphasis leading up to Wingate?
Turner: It's always think fast, play fast and take care of the football. We don't take of the football on Saturday in the first quarter that could have been horrendous. At least we are able to take care of the ball, punt the ball and play great defense. It's always a matter of turnovers when you got two good football teams going at it, who's going to be able to take it away and who is going to be able to secure it. Then who is going to make plays.
Q 13: How much does it help that the defense sets the tone of the game?
Turner: I think that it is build up through spring practice, it is build up through fall camp and that is on both side's offense, defense, and covering kicks. We called them special teams because they got to be special players. You look for players playing with excitement, excitement is catching and I like the way that our guys are celebrating together. The main thing is to play hard, and get after it but have good time while you are doing it.
Q 14: What do you see out of the new defensive line for Wingate?
Turner: Wingate is a very well coached team. The coaching staff does a great job and they have always been well prepared. They always have a transfer or two that always come in and help fill up some positions for them. I see them being a very sound football team, it's a football team that is not going to beat themselves. It's a football team that is not going to beat themselves, they are going to make someone beat them up front.
Q 15: How do you get multiple guys touches throughout the game?
Turner: I think you keep improving every week, you never are going to get there but you shoot for things that keep you going in a positive direction. To me the most dangerous football team is a football team that thinks I got it made and this is it. I think we gave St. Augustine's a whole lot of hope there in the first quarter and that's what made it a football game. Then when we all decided to go do our job and execute the way that we are supposed to we got a different outcome. We are growing as a football team, there is no question about that, we handle adversity well, that was really our first time encountering adversity as a team. I told all the coaches on Monday morning that the greatest thing I saw was nobody complaining about anything. Nobody was down on anybody and everybody was encouraging each other and that is a positive sign, in life you're going to have adversity and it's how you handle it.