Players Press Conference (Nov. 25)

Nov. 25, 2013

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(On motivation for the last game)
"I don't think it will be difficult to get motivated at all. We are all competitive. For the seniors, this is our last college football game. We want to go out there and compete and play to the best of our abilities. I am going to try and make that 60 minutes last as long as I can."

(On the direction of the program under Butch Jones)
"The program is going to be great. It is way different than what I had in the past. He has done so much in this little period of time. The underclassmen have now built that relationship and trust built with him. They can now do everything the right way, which is Coach Jones' way, in order to be successful.

"This upcoming week is big. We need to get a win to go into the offseason. It helps with momentum. My sophomore year, we lost to Kentucky. That offseason compared to last year when we beat Kentucky makes a big difference. A victory helps get good things going into the offseason."

(On difference going to Kentucky this year compared to two years ago)
"It is way different. We have that sense of pride and accountability for the younger guys. We are not going to let them slip up or let this week of practice go to waste just because we lost our opportunity to go to a bowl game. The lifespan to play for Team 117 is down to six days now. We are going to work this week and go out and have fun playing together for one last time."

(On not converting short-yardage situations)
"The one Saturday, they schemed us well. They ran the right defense, and we had guys, you know if you slip up against guys with the right defense then it's going to be hard to get that (first down). The last four (3rd and shorts), like you said, I really don't know how to put a finger on it. You know you could clean up technique from watching and all that, but we just couldn't get that. The defense played better on that play."

(On disappointment of not converting short-yardage situations)
"It's very disappointing. On Saturday when we didn't get it, I'm like `We didn't want to put the defense back on the field.' We said it before during that timeout that we wanted to go out there and get this first down so we can make as much time as possible and get in the end zone, but when something like that happens, you put it on your shoulders. We weren't able to stop them, but I feel like that was more of us not being able to convert with four minutes to go."

(On rushing for over 2,000 yards on the season)
"It's a great accomplishment. Coming into the season, we wanted to protect the quarterback as well as we can and run the ball. We wanted to get a 1,000-yard rusher, and I think Rajion (Neal) is 10 yards away. That'll be a proud moment for him. He hasn't ran for 1,000 yards in his career, and that'll be a proud moment for all of us.

"There's some positive things that we can take out of this season still, and we can take out of this game. I wouldn't change anything about this season. I appreciate these coaches and how they made it, especially for these seniors, guys like me and Mike. We just want to go out here like I said and try to be 1-0, and try to just go out here and have fun."

(On message to quarterbacks going in to the offseason)
"I'll tell them to leave, you know, we're not going to be here anymore. The four seniors up front, we tried to lead and make sure they were comfortable. They're going to have a bunch of new starters now on the offensive line, so whoever's at quarterback, I'll just tell him to instill confidence in them. Try to lead more and instill confidence in the O-Line because they're going to be fresh out there and they haven't been there yet. I have confidence in the line and what they're going to be able to do. It's really just learning to take over the team, you know, take over in the weight room and starting the offensive training in a leadership role."

(On this being the offensive line's last time together)
"We thought about it Saturday before the game about this being the last time in Neyland to play together and the last time the four of us would be on the same team. We're going to go out here like I said and have fun. We're going to enjoy the game we love, enjoy it with the people we love and just go out there and compete."

(On his consecutive starts record)
"I don't even know how to speak about that. I feel lucky, basically. I got an opportunity when I was young, and God blessed me without me getting hurt overall these games. The cool thing was I got to meet the guy (Jeff Smith) whose record I tied this past week after the game. He came up to me after the game and said, `I appreciate you. I've been watching you over the years, and I wouldn't want to tie with any other guy.' He feels like I just need to go out here and keep competing, keep playing and one day somebody will break my record."

(On the offense scoring three touchdowns in past four games)
"It's very frustrating, but our defense I feel like has had our back and played well to give us opportunities, but we've got to have their back as well. Three touchdowns is not acceptable, especially in this league, but we've just got to go out here and practice, practice, practice, and go out here and score some points against Kentucky."

(On how the offense got to that point)
"I really don't know. We've been playing against some good competition, and we've been out here making too many mistakes against good competition. You can't make that many mistakes when you're playing teams like this. We've got to go out there and try to play a complete game as an offense and limit the MA's and technique issues."


(On kicking in the elements on Saturday)
"There are a lot of things that go into kicking. Elements like being worn down and the cold are things you try not to worry about. Sometimes it is a little difficult, but for the most part, it is my job to go out and be as consistent as possible. I can't control the weather. I can't control the condition of things like Saturday. I have to adjust accordingly and go from there."

(On preparing for cold games differently than normal)
"You try and stay as warm as possible. I am not moving around like any other position on the field. I am sitting on the sideline. I stay by the heaters to keep my feet warm. It is kind of tough and difficult when it is windy. When those two elements combine, they aren't good for a kicker or punter. For the most part, it is still the same preparation. You have to prepare for games the same way. You want to get the same result."

(On attempting to kick instead of faking the field goal)
"Coach called it from the sideline, and I did what I was told. He thought it would work, and we have been preparing for it all year if the situation every occurred. He felt we could get it, but Vanderbilt covered it well. It didn't work out. When I go out there, I do whatever I am told."

(On the direction the program is heading in under Butch Jones)
"I have so much confidence in this coaching staff and the young guys on this team. I know we lose a lot of seniors, but the fact that we have so many young guys that have experience in games; they get to show the new guys coming in during the spring or fall how things should be done. Coach Jones is implementing a system where situations like this never happen again.

"I have the upmost confidence in this coaching staff. Like Ja'Wuan said, we are focused on this game. It starts a win streak. We don't want to give up on ourselves or on this team because we want to end strong, positive, and with a 1-0 to start a winning streak for teams to come."

(On difference in leadership this year compared to 2011 Kentucky game)
"Absolutely. I think it's like night and day. Our senior class has been through so much together, so much adversity, and Coach Jones always says `Football is life just sped up faster.' I think all of the adversity that we've gone through in the past four years has made us not only better players but better men as well, so we can pass that on to the younger guys and show them `You're going to hit adversity, you're going to hit bumps in the road, but it's how you overcome that adversity that makes you who you are not only as a man but as a player as well.' We've got to maintain that confidence this week in our preparation so we can go out on top and go in to Kentucky in Lexington and win."

(On importance of ending road losing streak)
"It's been a while since we've won a true road game. Like me and Ja'Wuan said, we've got to finish 1-0 so we can start a streak for teams to come. That's kind of the biggest thing, the most important thing, to show that we're not giving up on each other, on the coaches and on our team. We've only got so much time left together. We want to enjoy it this week, and we want to prepare the best way that we can to go in to Lexington and get a win."





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