Bobby Johnson Weekly Press Conference
October 7, 2002
"I think we had a good open week, we have gotten ready
for the game and we are anxious to get back on the field and
start playing. I think it is a very important football game
for us, obviously after Middle Tennessee defeated Vanderbilt
last year. I think our guys have a lot of respect for their
program, and even though they have not won a game this year,
they have played a very difficult schedule. We are not letting
that fool us. We have seen a good team on film, and we'll
have to prepare hard to have a chance to win. We are certainly
trying to do that right now.
Q: What do you think is keeping MTSU from getting over the
hump and getting their first victory?
A: "They have played Alabama, Tennessee and Kentucky,
which are all very good teams. I think the last couple of
weeks they have looked a little like us. Sometimes you didn't
quite make the play, and other teams made great plays against
you. They moved the ball last week in the second half, but
just couldn't get points. We are certainly not looking at
their record and saying 'there a bad football team, because
they are not.'"
Q: Were you surprised to see how well MTSU played against
Southeastern Conference teams, then would lose to Arkansas
A: "We were a little surprised, but Arkansas Sate is
pretty good right now and playing a lot better than they have
in a long time. You go to their place, and you have to play
on the road as much as they have, it's kind of hard to be
consistent. I see a much better team than their record. You
see them on film, they are well coached with a great scheme.
They spread you out on offense and they try to take advantage
of things you try to do on defense. Defensively, they are
very athletic and can run."
Q: Does MTSU have any similarities to teams you have played
earlier in the season?
A: "South Carolina did some things very similar with
a lot of quarterback draws and screens, which hurt us a little
bit. I'm sure they are going to be looking at the South Carolina
film. To tell you the truth, they run a very similar defense
that South Carolina did. I am sure that is a key game for
them to watch on film."
Q: Do you expect to see Dwone Hicks in the MTSU backfield?
A: "We are expecting him to play. He is a quality back,
that is all you can say about him. He is the real deal. But
RaShard Lee also is doing a fine job. They are moving the
football, but they are just not getting it into the end zone."
Q: Can you assess Benji Walker since taking over at quarterback?
A: "Just like I said the whole time while the process
was going on to decide (on a back-up quarterback), we had
a tough choice because Benji is a quality quarterback. I think
he has been great through the whole process. When he was second
team, he prepared every week to try to get better, didn't
pout and now he is going to have an opportunity to put all
that to work and I think he will do a great job."
Q: How is Jay (Cutler) handling things?
A: "I think Jay is handling it the best he can. He is
helping our defense get ready for this game and doing a good
Q: What is the timetable for Cutler's return?
A: "The way he is handling things, it will probably be
Q: What do you think about playing a nearby rival such as
A: "I like it. They are going to bring a lot of people
to our stadium. There is a lot of interest because they beat
us last year. We read about them, they read about us. I think
it is good."
Q: Can you assess the Commodores' performance at this point,
nearly halfway through the season?
A: "We are not doing too good if you look at the record.
We have improved a great deal since our first game. I think
our guys are playing hard and doing what we ask them to do.
Defensively, we are getting better. Remember, we played last
week (vs. South Carolina) without three starters on defense.
I think guys are starting to believe in our system and believe
in what we asking them to do. They are doing their very best
to execute it the way we ask them to do. As long as we do
that, we are going to make progress and are going to live
with the results. We play in a tough league. We are asking
our guys to make plays against great playmakers."