The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Athletics Department held the first of its fall media lunches in McKenzie Arena today. Head football coach Russ Huesman was the featured speaker, visiting with the standing-room-only contingent of local media.
Coach Huesman was also joined by junior running back Marquis Green (Palmetto, Fla.) and senior defensive back Kadeem Wise (Lawrenceburg, Ga.). All three helped to introduce a new UTC press conference backdrop, sponsored by FSG Bank.
Below are selected excerpts from each individual’s time on the podium. There is also a photo gallery at the bottom of the page, along with a full video from the press conference.
The Mocs host UT Martin on Thursday, Aug. 29, in the season opener. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. (E.D.T.) at Finley Stadium. Tickets are on sale now on GoMocs.com or by calling the UTC Ticket Office at (423) 266-MOCS (6627).
Head Coach Russ Huesman
“It’s here. I knew yesterday going to the Quarterback Club that it was right here and right now. I kind of had a feeling that it would come this fast. I said that at the Quarterback Club that most everybody thinks football season took forever to get here.
As coaches and players, it feels like it was just yesterday we finished up, and seems like it was yesterday we started fall camp. I knew it would come fast and it always does. Probably faster than you like, but we had a good camp and our guys had a good summer. I think our guys are really excited to play. We’re going to play a good football team.
I think everybody in this room understands that UT Martin is really good. They have some great skilled athletes. They were 8-3 last year and beat the University of Memphis. They have a good football team . We got our work cut out for us. We’re going to have to play well to win. The opening game is always scary. They’re in the same boat we’re in. They’re playing guys that probably haven’t played much, and haven’t played significant snaps.
We’re in the same boat. We’ll play some guys, and until they get out there , you never know how they’re going to react, and It’ the same way on their side. Hopefully some of the guys will react correctly and do things the right way and we’ll play well .”
Nerves going into the game:
“I always feel nervous. I could probably be bringing the Green Bay Packers out there and probably feel nervous. I’m always nervous. I could feel it about a week ago. The nerves started to hit me. It’s just kind of an everyday process. I feel the same as I always do.
I think that camp was fairly smooth, but you’re always kind of on pins and needles during camp as it gets closer and people start talking about it. We started Sunday. That was our Tuesday prep, last night at Finley was our Wednesday prep, and today is Thursday. Now it’s really hitting you. So over the weekend I kind of got a little nerves going. “
On what he is most nervous about:
“I think I’m most nervous about the unknown. We haven’t played UT Martin before. There’s nothing out there that I can compare to say well that we’ve played them. We have a different football team this year, and they have a different football team. So the unknown is tough. Are we prepared? Do we have everything covered? You never know.
Something is going to come up and we’re going to ask how we could have missed that situation or scenario. We try to cover every scenario possible, but again there’s that unknown. The unknown of some of our guys that haven’t played much football. How are they going to react in front of a big crowd? The first game is always the scariest. I think every coach in America will tell you that.”
On if this game has any difference in importance:
“No, I’ve never taken that philosophy into it. If we win, it doesn’t mean we’re great. If we lose, it doesn’t mean we’re bad. It’s a long season. If you start getting too excited about a win you’re in big trouble, and if you get too down about a loss you’re in big trouble. You go to play them and no matter what happens on Thursday, we have to put it behind us and continue to work and get better.
Weather we win big, lose big, win close, lose close. Whatever happens, you have to play a twelve-game season. I’m sure every coach in America is that way. I don’t think you can go into this thing saying it’s make or break. We’ll make a decision weather Chattanooga is going to be good based on this one or not.”
Thoughts on the offense
“I hope it’s different that we’re getting more people involved. As a matter of fact, I don’t hope that. I think that’s going to happen. We’re going to get more people involved in the offense. We’re going to get our running backs going this year. We have to. We have to get those guys playing well. They’ve been playing well; they’ve been practicing well.
We have to get our wide receivers involved. That’s the bottom line. We have to get more people involved. I think that does a couple or things. It takes a little pressure off of some of the other guys that had to carry the load a lot, and it also gets more people, more of your football team excited about going out there every day. You can go out there as a wide receiver and block the whole time.
Now if you go to a wishbone, if you go to Wofford or Citadel, you know that going in that’s what you’re going to do. You got a guy that you never get involved, and you tell him that you’re going to try to get him, and you don’t do it. You get guys that kind of get, I don’t want to say dissatisfied, but you know is it worth it and should I really work that hard. So we’re just going to try to get a lot of people involved in the offense.”
Marquis Green, Running Back, Junior
Thoughts on the “unknown” going into opening week:
“Preparing for a team you don’t know is the unknown. They could change their offense or defense, or whatever they were doing last year. We only have what they did last year to prepare for, then show up on game day with that game plan hoping they don’t do something different. It’s a little scary.”
Thoughts on moving back to running back:
“I played a little more receiver last year, but this year they have moved me back to the backfield to get more carries. I am really excited about that.”
On what is different about the offense this season:
“We are moving faster this season and we are putting guys in different places. We are stretching the ball from sideline-to-sideline and trying to get the ball to guys who can make plays.”
Thoughts on the quality of leadership on the team:
“We have a lot of guys who can lead, want to help and make sure everyone is doing the right thing. That’s what’s so great about this team. Everyone wants to be on track and doing the right thing, and it makes a big difference when you have so many guys wanting to help others.”
Team goals going into the season:
“We have goals and things we want to excel in, especially in the running game. We want to have more rushing yards, we want the ball and we want to really help out the offense. Our goal is to make it to the playoffs and run the table.”
On the nerves going into the game against UT Martin:
“Every game is a big game but we don’t want to focus on one team too much. We have to focus on the team we have during the week. We know UT Martin’s defense is fast to the ball and they are aggressive. We want to play our offense and do what we can against them.”
Kadeem Wise, Senior, Defensive Back
Nerves going into opening weekend:
“I am not nervous at all. I don’t think a lot of the guys are nervous. We think it is our time. We think it is our time to rise up as SoCon champions and make it to the playoffs. We have been talking about it since the end of last season. We know what we are capable of and we know what we can do. We just have to go do it. We are confident and we are ready for Thursday.”
On being named a captain:
“It is an honor to be named a captain, and you have a lot of responsibilities that come with it. You know you have to do the right think at all times, even when nobody is looking, and if something happens you have to be that guy that brings everyone together. I am proud to be a captain and hope to do a great job of it.”
Thoughts on UT Martin:
“We try to take all opponents the same. We don’t want to take any of them lightly. UT Martin is a pretty good team and they have a great staff. They were 8-3 last year and return a lot of players. Coach tells us how it is and tells us that they are a good bunch. We just have to be ready to play.”