CBS will broadcast Saturday's SEC Championship Game at 8 p.m. (EST)
Dec. 3, 2001
QUARTERBACK CASEY CLAUSEN:
"Coach Fulmer gets the credit that he deserves. It's always been based on us versus Florida. Now he's beat them twice since 1998 and have a chance to play for the national championship, the second one in 4 years. He's one of the top three coaches in America and he is the main reason I chose to play football at Tennessee.
"This team started to play the way we are capable of the second half of last season, and I think it's continued through most of this year. Playing Florida late in the year instead of in September was a great benefit to us. We didn't have several key players back in September that we have now, plus, we are a much improved team now than we were then. It's up to us now and it's in our hands."
DEFENSIVE TACKLE WILL OVERSTREET:
"We've had injuries and had people step up in their place this season just like we did in 1998 when we won the National Championship. The seniors really haven't had to lead very much this year. This team is very focused.
"There really haven't been a need for us seniors to do anything above the norm. LSU has a better running game than Florida does. LSU is much better with Toefield back there. If they get the run going, we will be in trouble.
"If we stop the run, however, then we can put some pressure on their quarterback and win the game. If we look ahead to Pasadena, we will get beat. If we play not to lose, we will get beat. But the key to beating LSU is stopping the run and making them pass on every down, allowing us to key on putting pressure on Davey. This week is for a ring, an SEC ring."
RUNNING BACK TRAVIS STEPHENS:
"I like astroturf. I think I am much quicker playing on the turf. I'm going to try to run hard and try to get through their line if they stack the it to try and stop me. That's fine with me if they do that. That's the good thing about our offense. Then the pass will be wide open. But if they want to stack the line to try to stop me, that's fine, because they will get torn up through the air. We are trying to get to the National Championship, and the next step is LSU. LSU is our focus right now.
"After LSU, we can talk about the Rose Bowl. When Colorado beat Nebraska, I was surprised, but I was happy, because I knew it would close the gap and help us get to that No. 2 spot in the BCS. Now it's in our hands. We control our own destiny and we are focused. We want to win the SEC Championship, and then worry about the National Championship."
WIDE RECEIVER JOSH REED:
"We played Tennessee earlier this season but we have come into our own since then. We are a much improved team and we are looking forward to playing them this time around. Rohan Davey kept everything positive for us and kept us motivated. We have so many other weapons on this team it is hard to keep track of all of them.
"In the past few weeks we have been able to get the ball to everybody. Hopefully we can go into Atlanta and do the same thing Tennessee did to Florida when they were the underdog. We are just grateful for the opportunity and we are going to try and make the most of it. I think (LaBrandon) Toefield has to have a good game, but everyone has to do their part to win. I don't think there's any concern with us never being on the championship game. We just have to go out there and play like we have the past couple of weeks. I never thought in my life that I would become a good wide receiver when they moved me from running back."
TIGHT END ROBERT ROYAL:
"I think Tennessee will be up for the game. They have a lot riding on this game just like we do. I think Tennessee wants to prove to everybody that we can't play with them so they have a lot to prove also. I think we are here this season because first of all, we became a team and we have had some very good practices. We have been playing consistent football and now we are putting everything together offensively, defensively and on special teams.
"It is a different team than when we beat Tennessee in Baton Rouge, but it is still something we can learn from and use as motivation. Rohan Davey is an unbelievable guy on and off the field. He has worked tremendously hard in the off season and not only that, he is a true competitor. When you have a true competitor it is hard to keep him off the field. We still believed we could bounce back after the 0-2 start to the season. We started practicing well through the course of the season and our confidence wasn't bad. We knew we could win games and we could compete, it was just how we were going to get it done."
LINEBACKER TREV FAULK:
"Travis Stephens is one of the best backs and I want to play against the best backs so this is really exciting. That's why people come to the SEC to play against the best in the nation. He is an exciting runner and seems to just get stronger throughout a game.
"We have to try and match their balance on defense. It's not like we can put nine in the box to stop Stephens because they will throw over the top of us. If we put eight in the defensive backfield Stephens will run right through us, so we have to try and equal Tennessee's balance. A lot of people feel that we are just happy to be here, but we want to be the SEC Champions. A lot of people think Tennessee has more motivation to be here because if they win, they will play for the National Championship, but they still have to get by us to do that. We want to be SEC Champions so we have the motivation as well."