JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. - Mike Turner held his weekly press conference to discuss the Eagles top-25 opponent the Catwaba College Catwaba Indians.
Turner Opening Statement: Catawba is the front runner in our league they are playing extremely well. They started out earlier beating a team in the Southern Conference, that's always a feather in the cap to someone out of the South Atlantic Conference. There quarterback is playing extremely well at a high level, they have two running backs that are both threats and two or three outside receivers that are really good football players. So, we got our hands full, we've got to have a sound defensive effort and we have to maintain what we've been doing up front. Catawba on defense they return six or seven starters and one or two backups that played a lot last season. They are the best football team that we have played up to this point, no doubt about it.
Q 1: What makes Catawba so sound defensively?
Turner: It's part experience, part size up front. They got some outstanding players, it's good to see that some of them are seniors. Curtis (Walker) does a great job with their defense as he always has. They are very sound in how they execute, they are not going leave an opening, they are a good football team.
Q 2: How has Walker changed since he was first there?
Turner: I think that he is a lot of the same, Curtis is a good man and he does a great job with the football program. He has kept them even keel throughout the years, but it is pretty much the same when he was a player there. They are a good football team, they are well coached and they are a great challenge for our kids.
Q 3: How do you keep the positivity up in the locker room after back-to-back losses?
Turner: We had a good talk about that after the game and had a great talk about it yesterday. You have two choices that you can make in adversity, it either makes you weaker or it makes you stronger. I walked into a Sunday school class on Sunday morning and one of the verses we went over was, being a child of God doesn't prevent you from having adversity but it enables you to overcome it. Believing and having faith gets you to handle adversity the right way. We are going to face adversity, anybody can be right up there at the top when you are rolling along. It's when you hit a speed bump, it's how do you handle it. I told our kids yesterday point blank, you either handle it like a little boy or you handle it like a man.
Q 4: What is ultimately the difference maker on the defensive side of the ball?
Turner: I think for both of us it is to prevent the big play. You want to make people earn everything that they get, if you do that you hope that you're going to make a play on defense. They know how they are going to execute on offense, we know how we are going to execute on defense. It's a matter of taking care of the football. We went over there last year and we had 450 yards of offense but that doesn't count when you have five turnovers. Instead of making touchdowns we made field goals and that was the difference in the game.
Q 5: What makes Kyle Kitchens such a difficult guy to block?
Turner: His athletic ability, he is confident in what he is doing and he can make a mistake but have the ability to cover up for it. He is just an outstanding defensive football player.
Q 6: What is the biggest challenge for your offense against their top defense?
Turner: You got to put yourself in a position to block them but you got to maintain a block. We need just a little bit more to maintain those blocks, so that we can help continue drives a little bit further. We talked to our football team starting three or four years ago about having a four-yard mentality. A four-yard mentality three times moves the chains, a four-yard mentality gets you in position to make a 40 or 60-yard play. We are coming up short to many times with three and three and half yard runs. We need to have that four-yard mentality in order to move the chains and keep drives alive.
Q 7: How does the offensive line grade out since the start of the season?
Turner: When you score 40 something points in the first two games of the season, we still made mistakes that we did not grade out as high as we need to be grading. That's the biggest difference, when you are talking about two sophomores, a red-shirt freshman and an upperclassmen who hasn't played. We got to get better and get better in a hurry, there has got to be an urgency of getting better at my task. This will be the fifth game of the year we've got to see things a little bit better. You talk about kids playing football at the college level, you have to increase your football IQ if you're going to be a successful offense you got to see things before they ever happened. You have to see how the defense is lining up, how I've practiced against that, I've watched video and know what is going to happen before the ball is snapped. Then you become a better offensive line, then you are more explosive instead of taking a look and see kind of thing.
Q 8: Is there something that you can do to make the third quarter better for your team?
Turner: Well when we started the third quarter on Saturday I thought that we had changed that mold, I thought we were there. We addressed it all during the week, we addressed it at halftime, the kids were excited and ready to go and we take it down the field. We make a mistake by fumbling the ball into the endzone on a play that a kid is making a great effort to score a touchdown. I wish that they had tackled him at the five-yard line but that didn't happen. We made a point to them Saturday that we were going to call things wide open, we had a lead and we weren't going to sit on the lead. At any time it does not go well on offense that is Mike Turner's fault. We don't score in the third quarter, that's my fault. We got to get better and we got to go with it.
Q 9: What sticks out to you about Catawba's receivers?
Turner: It is their ability to get open. Not only their ability to get open but they have a first rate quarterback that can get them the ball. They make plays. That quarterback allows them to make plays and in football execution is one thing but making plays is another. You can execute to a certain point but you got to have guys that know when it is time and you're called on you got to make a play. That's what they are doing right now.
Q 10: How does your defense need to cause a little chaos for the Catawba offense?
Turner: That is one thing that we are always trying to get out of our defense is more turnovers. When you look at football it is about field position and then it is about that turnover ratio. If you get more than you give up, you should be in good shape as the game goes along. We want our defense to get more turnovers. At the same time on offense we are two or three fumbles away from being this and we are a punt return and a kick return from being this. So we could be in the catbird seat but we are not. Instead we got to have a sense of urgency about us and from what I saw yesterday and talked with our kids about, but what I expect to see on that practice field today is the same enthusiasm and excitement to play a great football team.