JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. - Ahead of Carson-Newman's contest against Newberry coach Mike Turner spoke with the media.
"It's an exciting time to be on campus at Carson-Newman. Like most schools our size, homecoming is a very big event. You'll see a whole lot of alums, former players back to visit on campus. Lot more parents, those kinds of things, will be here for that. It's got its greatness about it and it's got its distractions about it, as a football team you have to understand that it's a great week to be on campus, a lot of people here, but you've got to make sure you've got your focus with you."
On managing distractions on Homecoming Week
"It's called Maalox (laughs), but it all works out. But you do know that this time of year is great and you're glad to have those people on campus and enjoy the time with them."
On what sticks out about Newberry running back Chance Walker
"Gosh, you look at it – and I read the article from the Salisbury paper on Sunday morning – and you see his stats before that and you see his stats that day and definitely that's a breakout game. Not only for him but for the whole Newberry offense. But you're right, that event right there, that one day should garner some national attention no doubt about it."
On what sticks out about Newberry quarterback Colton Bailey
"He's a playmaker, he can beat you with his legs as well as his arm. He's got some talented receivers and they've always been in that situation at Newberry and they'll try to get you going with play action but also with a quarterback with designed plays for him to run the football and it goes back to the same kind of idea with the quarterback from Catawba."
On how Catawba's Kendall Davis and Newberry's Colton Bailey are similar and how they differ
"I think this guy (Bailey) is throwing it downfield more. They're looking to get it down field more. They've got some speed there at wide out that can threaten you deep. And they've always been a football team, especially against us, that's going to crank it up and throw it deep."
On how to avoid letting a tough loss beat the team mentally
"We talked in the locker room after the game, you've got to understand who you are, what caused you to be who you are, what happened, you have to be honest about that part. But you also have to be…you've got to have that faith, that hope that you know where you stand nationally. I think we would be standing in pretty good shape nationally with our strength of schedule, but it all gets back – we told them yesterday – how you prepare yesterday, today and every day this week to get ready to play Newberry. We can still control part of that story. There is still a story to be written about the 2019 team, and we can do whole lot to control what that story is."
On what the biggest lesson learned is from Saturday
"The one lesson is, I didn't see any give up in those kids. I saw something happened there in the first 10 minutes of that, that could be devastating to a football team and it was, and I saw them have the grit about them to come back and fight back to put themselves in a chance to win, saw us make a couple critical errors after we got back in that position to win that probably kept it from happening. The touchdown right before half. The fumble on the five-yard line. We got into some situations Saturday where field position was definitely against us. We've talked to those kids yesterday, football doesn't change (whether it's) 100 years ago, 100 years in the future, it's about blocking and tackling. You've got to block on offense, you've got to maintain the block, you've got to tackle well on defense. It's about field position. It's about turnovers and takeaways. We had two takeaways and three turnovers, that puts you behind the 8-ball. We missed some tackles, we didn't maintain blocks like we needed to. Now, Lenoir-Rhyne a great football team, but I think our kids are very capable of playing and winning that football game, but we've got to control those mistakes.
On potentially throwing the ball more
"No question that's what we have to do. We have to continue to find ways to get those guys the football. That's part of a first-down mentality. You don't have to run the option on first down to be productive, and that's what we got Saturday, we ended up changing some formations to make those things happen and it's like in any football game any team, us, versus us, versus somebody else, you have things ready to go. They've made an adjustment to that, you've got to change. Our kids were very receptive to making a couple changes in there and that provided those two drives right before the half and had some success driving the football the other games. It's just those guys give us a dimension, and a Derrick Evans and Tyler Thackerson throwing the football give us a dimension along with the option."
On how the defense has matured
"That's definitely so. We were short-handed at times in there where you can't be short-handed against a team like Lenoir-Rhyne. When you have some front guys out, and not there and not available, we had some other guys step up try to perform as admirably as they could and they did. But, again, the greatest thing to take away from that is the grit these kids (showed), the not give up, to continue to fight and battle, and try to give yourself a chance to win."
On what stands out about Newberry's defense
"It's athletes. They've got athletes at Newberry, they always have and always will have athletes, offensively and defensively. They've got kids that can run to the ball well, they execute well, they're always well-coached by Todd Knight and his staff, but they've got athletes on that football team as good as anybody."
On what the biggest difference is for Newberry between now and the beginning of the season
"If you look at the games they played, those were all close games. They played at North Greenville and played at Florida Tech, those were close ball games. I think it was a matter of those kids…they've got a lot of returners back on their football team. It's just a matter of those kids (to) keep coming together and believe and I think that's where they are right now. They are very much like what you would see Newberry as and I don't think the name has changed and has anything to do with it."
On Turner's favorite part about Homecoming week
"I think it's all-around the pageantry of it. I think people being back on campus that haven't been there in years or whatever, they're excitement that they have and their love for Carson-Newman University. Former players that are part of this tradition, guys that have come in and set their legacy we'll talk more about our kids and in the next four weeks they've got something to say about that story but they've got something to say about the legacy that they're going to leave when they leave out of here at the end of this season."