JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – Carson-Newman first year head football coach Mike Turner held his weekly press conference Tuesday morning in the coach's conference room getting ready for the home opener against the University of Pikeville.
The following is a written transcript from the Mike Turner press conference.
Opening Statement: Well it's a very exciting time, the opening of college football season. Our kids are coming off of a great camp, there is great excitement and enthusiasm among them. You get to the point where you get to finally play somebody else. There are plenty of nerves and I think you always have open game apprehensions of making sure things are polished up like you would like them. I do know this, the old coach axiom is that you improve the most from game one to game two, cause you got a game under your belt. So we're looking forward to playing.
Q1: What are the challenges and advantages of facing a team, who started their season a week early?
Turner: Well, I think that they have an advantage of working out some of those kinks and things that you have in opening games. You can go back and get more practice time on those things to fix them. I think it is an advantage to us because we are opening up at home and I think playing at Mossy Creek is a great advantage for our kids. Especially, a Thursday night game at seven o'clock. I think the excitement and the anticipation, just the atmosphere will be great for the kids.
Q 2: What are your feelings going into your first game as a head coach?
Turner: Well, I don't think there is enough area for the butterfly's at a zoo somewhere to cover. You're looking down the line at different responsibilities, I am blessed to have a great coaching staff, that's game prepared. They know what it is to be in these kind of games and to be ready for a season. We've got a middle to young football team that has game experience in some ways, but in some ways they are still in the growing up phase. As far as being the head coach it is a new adventure.
Q 3: What are the different challenges of facing a team with two quarterbacks?
Turner: They are very similar in a lot of ways, they both throw the ball well, and they both can run with the football. It's anything that you are looking for in football is that you got to try and stop the run first. They do a great job of getting the ball downhill in a hurry, with their zone reads. The quarterbacks do a great job with their follow play, so we've got our hands full. You pick out the best things and try to attack those things first.
Q 4: What do you want the identity of these year's football team to be?
Turner: I want the identity of this football team to be a believer. That they believe in themselves, their teammates, their coaches, and I think you grow as a football team. I've told them, that you hear a lot about chemistry, that's one way that may get you pretty far, but the key thing I want them to get to is believing in each other, caring for each other, and the key word right there is love. When we got a football team that cares enough to love each other, then we got a championship football team.
Q 5: What's the biggest challenge been for you over the last week getting ready for the first game?
Turner: I got a yellow pad full of them down there for you. There have been a lot of challenges, I think that the organizational part of it is a challenge. It gets back to, somebody has to get back to a final check list and make sure that all of those things are covered. When you are starting brand new, you are talking about position charts, eligibility charts, and those types of things. So it's been a lot of challenges.
Q 6: What do you envision the first couple of plays to be like for your young quarterback and offensive line?
Turner: I think that we have to be us. The number one thing is what we tell those kids on offense all the time, think fast, play fast, and most importantly take care of the football. One of the greatest drive stoppers is pre-snap penalties. If we can eliminate those and the years that we have been good on offense we've eliminated those kind of penalties. When we've struggled it's been because we've had the yardage and the points and all that, but we've had a lot of drives stop because we didn't score because of pre-snap penalties. So opening game, with the different kind of noise that's been at scrimmages and those kind of things, it's going to be important that the quarterbacks are loud, the kids communicate well, and that we are able to think fast, play fast, and take care of the football.
Q 7: To have this many returners and talent on defense, what does this do for you as a first time head coach?
Turner: Well, it's a great feeling to go into that and to know that depth wise you got guys that can rotate in and get time. That you are not wearing some kid out going 65 or 70 snaps in a game. Our kids are more excited about that, they also know that they can go hard and blow it out and know that there is someone that can come in behind them and give them a break. I think a key in the first few games is number one having fresh legs and healthy bodies. That's what we want to get to at this time of the year.
Q 8: Your team has been healthier than past teams, what do you owe that to?
Turner: We owe it to the effort our strength and conditioning program has put into it going back to the winter. Going through the summer, the kids pushed themselves conditioning wise. I think it has to do with the way you get after it at practice. That you know that you want to go full speed and you got to have those kinds of things in contact, but working it around those times that you are taking care of one another. I think that it is a whole mindset of knowing that you want to go wide open, but be able to take care of each other.
Q 9: Defensively for Pikeville, is there anything that through a game sticks out to you?
Turner: I think that they bring to the table is the multiple fronts coverage wise, they are a multiple blitz team, a multiple alignment team up front. They are coming into a game with many different fronts and looks that they give you. They try to keep you off balance, behind that coverage wise they are trying to make sure that they are not exposing those kids to much and giving them a chance. They are mainly doing it with pressure, good pressure helps you be a better pass defense team.
Q 10: How much would it mean to have a big crowd on Thursday night for the home opener?
Turner: I think that it would be a great incentive for these kids, that's what they're expecting, that's what I'm expecting and that there is a home advantage. If there is a home advantage, it's being where you are, but it's also having people in the stands cheering you on, and knowing that they are there for you.