Players Press Conference (Oct. 21)

Oct. 21, 2013

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(On improved play since August)
"Over the course of the season, whether you have success or failure, you gain experience. With the way we've played these last few weeks, I think our confidence has grown. I definitely think we're a different football team than we were earlier this year."

(On his hand)
"It was a little sore. I banged it up a little bit, but it's fine. Our training staff does a great job of getting us ready to play, no matter the situation."

(On translating practice and meetings to the game field)
"Kudos to Coach Jake (Bajakian) for preparing us and getting us ready for a game time atmosphere and any situation that we're going to see. I think our practices are set up, it really helps us transfer from the classroom or the media room to the practice field, and then from both those settings to the game."

(On gaining confidence in his offensive teammates to make plays)
"Like I said earlier, over the course of the season I think our experience level and confidence level have grown. With these younger guys around me and the veteran offensive line, knowing that we're building chemistry day in and day out, I have faith in them, and I'm really happy with how we've come along so far."

(On feeling more prepared this year to face October schedule)
"Our conditioning is incredible, and it's really carried us this far, and it'll continue to carry us throughout the year. Also, experience, especially with the offensive linemen who have started for three or four years. We know what is at stake, and having some success against Georgia and South Carolina can definitely help us in the next few years to come."

(On if he likes having difficult October schedule)
"I don't pick the schedule. We know what we're facing week in and week out. We play in the best league in the nation, the SEC. Every week's a challenge."

(On Alabama's defense)
"They do not make many mistakes. They are a very fundamentally sound team. They have a lot of depth and experience. They are a well put together team."

(On being able to rely on Palardy for points)
"We are always taught as quarterbacks not to force a ball in the red zone. We have three points in our back pocket. I think that comes with having confidence in our kickers and Michael's abilities. We can't do anything stupid in the red zone like turnovers or penalties that could cost points. Confidence in our kickers definitely helps with our mindset."


(On being better prepared to face Alabama)
"We've just gotten experience over the season, from playing these games, going down to Florida, playing Georgia. I feel like people like myself, the older people, put confidence into the young guys who haven't really been in an environment like this."

(On what the Alabama rivalry means to him)
"It means a lot. It's another opportunity, another game. Every time we play them, they're usually #1 so we can go out there and compete with the best and size up with the best."

(On feeling more prepared this year to face October schedule)
"I feel a lot more prepared. I think everybody does. Conditioning-wise, I feel like Coach Lawson does a good job with us over the spring and the summer. I feel like this is the most conditioned team we've ever had. During this stretch in October, this is when you need that conditioning, that second wind. I feel like that's why we're finishing games better."

(On Coach Jones having confidence in line play)
"It means a lot. I saw a different team in that Georgia locker room at the end of the game. In everybody's minds we believe that we can win these types of games. I feel like we went out there and showed it against South Carolina. Just to have that confidence from him and the other coaches, it helps a lot because if they believe in us to the fullest, then we can believe in ourselves and we can go out there and execute."

(On challenge of running the ball against Alabama)
"They are experienced and disciplined. They are big guys so we have to bring our A game. If do what we practice, then we will be alright."


(On if he's changed based on new coaching staff)
"I feel like I'm definitely a lot more confident kicker and punter than I have been these last few years. Like I always say, the coaches instilled a lot of confidence in myself, along with the entire team, so I think going out there and having that confidence has really helped my play this year."

(On Coach Jones preparing him to make a game-winning field goal)
"Absolutely. He'll sometimes at the end of practice or even in the middle of practice will yell out over the microphone `Game-winning field goal!' just to kind of get me prepared for that situation. He always tells me to be prepared for a game-winning field goal every week, no matter what the result of the game is, always be prepared for the game-winning field goal. Ultimately, I feel like he's prepared me pretty well as well as I have prepared myself for that situation."

(On his thought process during game-winning drive)
"Well, I was pacing up and down the sideline for quite a while, but I was pretty calm for the most part. I didn't really think much. I just kind of took it as `I've done it before. It's every kick that I've executed in practice or a game. I just need to execute it the way that my team wants me to,' and it worked."

(On help from kicking often during the game)
"The big thing to me is when my number is called, how will I execute? Everything I do is performance based. When I am called in to punt, I have to change field position. That is my job. I have to make the opposing offense's job harder and make the field longer. That also makes it easier on our defense. I have been going out with a lot more confidence this year. On Saturday, I struggled a little bit on punting. I pinned them deep a couple of times, but I felt like I could have done better job of kick placement. There is always room for improvement. Other than that, I felt confident."

(On practicing kick placement inside the 20 yard line)
"Every practice, we have a specialist period. I really focus on pinning them deep, doing a pooch punt, or where to place it like out of bounds. Pinning the other team deep though, is my main focus throughout the week because when we do our punt period, it is backed up. We try to switch the field position. On Thursday, we work on pooch punt and scout punt."

(On thoughts before the game-winning kick)
"My visualization starts at the beginning of the week. I visualize throughout the week, even in practice, about kicking a game-winning field goal. No matter if it is an extra point or a 45-yard field goal. The biggest thing for me is maintaining focus/composure and not letting my adrenaline nerves get the best of me. When we are put in that situation as kickers, we have to execute. That is our job. When I went out on the field, I was more confident and calm than I would have thought prior to the situation. I just tried to maintain my focus as long as possible."

(On tough coaching)
"When Coach Jones came in here, I found out early that you have to have thick skin. No matter what position you play, he will be in your ear. He will consistently be in your ear. He is always yelling at me, but it isn't because he is angry but to lookout for the best of us. I like to think of myself as having thick skin with all of the criticism I have taken over the past couple of years. He has really instilled a lot of confidence in me."

(On being more prepared for game-winning kick now compared to past years)
"I would say it is a complete 180 on opposite ends of the spectrum. Like I said, he prepares me for that kick every single day in practice. I kick field goals every single day. If I miss a field goal in practice, it is consistency and performance. My confidence while going out on the field was the biggest thing for me."

(On being most confident now than ever before)
"That is absolutely safe to say. Over the past couple of years, I have had good and bad games. As a kicker and punter, you can't have that. You have to be consistent nine games out of ten or even ten out of ten. That is the way that it goes. I would just say that I feel a lot better about my play and myself. There is still a lot more improvement to be done, but I feel we are well prepared for the Alabama game."





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