VIDEO: Mike Turner Press Conference
JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. - Carson-Newman head football coach Mike Turner discusses pre-game thoughts going into week one as the Eagles prepare to hit the road for their season opener against West Florida Thursday night.
Opening Statement: They're a great football team (West Florida), they showed that last year with the end of the season run. Predominantly they have everybody back, and they've brought in some great transfers from some FBS programs. So they've got the talent, they've got the people, they are a premier division II football program.
Q1 How nice is it to play this level of competition right out of the gate?
I think it's great for our kids. It started back in January when we got together with those guys to make the contract. It's been a great motivator in the weight room, in the off season, spring practices, summer workouts and fall camp. You know who you're going to play and what they are. It's going to take your best efforts, your best focus, and it's got to be a united front.
Q2 What sticks out about the quarterback and their depth in that position?
Well he's a winner, he makes plays, that's what you look for in a quarterback. He can make plays with his arm, but he can make plays with his feet as well. He's a complete guy obviously, I would think it'd be hard for someone to take his place. As far as being backups I don't think anybody can be as solid as they are at that position.
Q3 What kind of dynamic does Antonio Wimbush bring to the offense?
He brings a confidence level, he makes other people in the huddle better because of who he is, what he's done and what he's capable of doing.
Q4 What does Derrick Evans need to do to take his junior season to the next level?
He's just got to keep working on leadership. He's a very dynamic player because of the type of kid he is. I don't think he'll ever have anxiety problems in his life, he's just a fun loving kid. Those kids look in his eyes and know he can and will make plays for them. So he just needs to continue to grow and mature, he's a special player.
Q5 What kind of changes do you have to make to prepare your team for the road trip to start out the year?
I think you prepare them the same whether you play at home or on the road. You don't make as much about who you're playing as about who you are. I've told our kids many times "the only one I fear is us." We have to make sure we have the focus, that we're united in our efforts and that they maintain what it is to have a great work ethic and they've shown that.
Q6 Does playing in an old baseball stadium impact anything once the lights come on Thursday night?
I don't think so, I think it only just gets your uniforms a little more dirty. I think it's the first game of the season, I told our kids this morning that everyone in America is undefeated right now, everyone has a 4.0, and you have to fight to defend that. We're excited to play in that venue, I've only seen pictures and videos but I think everyone's excited to play.
Q7 Where's your teams mindset going into game #1?
They're definitely ready to go play somebody else. The camp part of it is where you have to be careful. The main thing we told our kids from day one is that we want them to be the strongest team, the best conditioned team and the healthiest team. And we're pretty close to being a healthy football team.
Q8 What does it say of those efforts as it doesn't seem like you got hit by the injury bug this season?
We owe it all to the strength and conditioning folks and the training room. Those people have worked those kids and trained them how to take care of their bodies in the weight room and the training room. Our kids are very fortunate to have the two staffs we've got here with Johnny Long and Mike Van Bruggen.
Q9 West Florida's defense was top ten in the country for sacks and turnovers, how did they do that?
They've got great team speed on defense, they fly to the football. If That's they're secret to creating turnovers is their team speed. They set up their offense in great position, there's something about that short field that makes it a lot better for an offensive team.
Q10 What sticks out to you about their receiving core as a whole?
It goes back to the quarterback and how fast he gets them the ball. They're going to see what you are, take what you give them and be very patient with that. If it's not there between the quarterback and the receiver you pull that thing down and go with it.
Q11 What sticks out to you about Pete Shinnick as head coach?
Pete's always been a great football coach as far as getting talent around him. He did that at Pembroke as far as getting them to the playoffs, he's done that at West Florida, he's got an array of great talent around them. The University has made it that way in building great facilities and making it special to be an athlete at West Florida.
Q12 Who's someone that Carson-Newman fans might not know about that you're hoping to see big things from?
We brought in a couple receivers that we think will be difference makers as the season progresses. Romain Kelly from SC, Ed Aldred is a transfer from a Juco from FL. We've got some freshmen running backs that have really made a move to get themselves some playing time. That would be Toot Johnson and Dendy from SC, he has done a great job. Both of those kids have proven to make a difference. I think on defense we have continued to grow solid, Zach Fuller is a freshman linebacker that's going to be a great player for us. We've seen last year and this year that hopefully we're filling in some spaces and getting some people in there where we can look back and say "that was a pretty good class."
Q13 With 23 kids from Florida on your roster, what does it mean to give them a chance to play in their home state?
I think it's great, their families are so excited and it's tremendous for us and our kids to go to Florida to play as far as recruiting goes. It's great publicity for this university. The biggest thing is that we make sure we play within ourselves. There's a lot of friends down there for those guys and they've got to make sure they keep their focus and after the game they can enjoy their families.
Q14 What does it mean that you're on the national spotlight with your opening game?
It's a great compliment to our program and our kids for how hard they've worked to put themselves in that position. We've got to prove ourselves worthy of continuing to get that kind of exposure, to be able to be considered one of the better teams in division II and that's where we want this program to be. That's where it should be all the time.
Q15 What has been the biggest difference between year two, week one of being head coach compared to year one, week one?
I think we've been more settled as a staff and what our expectations are. It's definitely been more smooth with the kind of returning kids we've got. They know what to expect, we know what to expect. It's a blend of having the same people on your football team and having the same people coach them, I think that's very important.
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