Transcript: Justin Fuente Press Conference
Aug. 25, 2014
We're finally here. We are obviously excited to start this season. Our kids have worked extremely hard through spring practice and into the summertime and through two-a-days. I know they're anxious to get on the football field and prove how much we've improved. We've got a long season ahead of us and we're all anxious.
On the goals of the program for the season:
Some of our kids have been in the program for three years now. They know what to expect and how things operate. We have better numbers than when we started. The key for us is the internal battle. Can we do the things that good programs do on a daily basis? That's very easy to say and very difficult to accomplish. Can we continue to be a selfless football team? Do we have a group of men that want to be great teammates? Can we adhere to a set of principles that we've used as the foundation of our program on a daily basis? We're getting more and more guys who understand that and understand how important that is.
On the offense:
We need a group of guys, including Paxton, who can exhibit the ability to execute on a consistent basis. That's the charge for many of our guys. I don't think we have to be in over our head and play out of our minds. We have to do a good job of preparing and being ready to play at a high level. We have to be able to make routine plays on a consistent basis. Sometimes when guys get out there, they press. They want to do well so bad that sometimes they do things detrimental to the team.
On the season opener:
I think they're all important, obviously, but I'm anxious to watch us play. I want to see how we play. I'm going to judge our guys on the way we execute, how we handle adversity and how we play. Is it important to get off to a good start? Yes, but if we don't, it's not the end of the world. I want to see us play. There will be game situations for guys that have never been out there before. I want to see us execute and be a disciplined football team and we'll let the rest take care of itself.
On the mindset of the team:
It's very internal for us. It is very much about how we handle what's before us. That's a crucial part for the team: doing what's best for the team to stay focused on the task at hand. We have several things that we're trying to adhere to throughout the season. All of them are internal. None of them pertain to anyone or anything outside of our program. We've tried to turn it back inside and focus on ourselves.
On excitement of game week:It's a great feeling. I was getting sick and tired of going against the same guys since the springtime. I just want to go out there - it's going to be a great day - 6 p.m. - It's not going to be in the middle of the day. It's a great feeling. The spring went fast. The offseason went fast. I'm just ready to play.
On who first opponent is:No, honestly it doesn't matter. Whoever it is, I just want to win. I know that's how the whole team feels. If it's Austin Peay or it's UCLA, Ole Miss, Middle Tennessee or whoever it is, we want to get the W at the end of the day. We don't care if it's first or last, at the end of the day we want to get a win.
On motivation from seeing the defense be productive:
Yes, we definitely do. We do that at practice every day. That's what we've been focusing on this whole offseason - the opportunity to go against some of these guys every day. Guys like Martin Ifedi, Charles Harris, Bobby McCain, we're going against some of the top guys period. Those guys can compete with anybody. Being able to go against those guys is definitely helping our offense. It's huge.
On getting past slogans and going out and playing:
We are very eager to get the season underway. We`ve been in camp for a long time. Like Coach Fuente said, we had a great camp. It was tough, but we made it through. We're just looking forward to this season and looking at how far we've come since last season.
On setting a tone for the first game of the season:
Without a doubt, we always want to bring our "A" game to every competition no matter who we are playing because two years ago UT Martin came in and beat us. Obviously we cannot look past any team. We do want to make a stand defensively, offensively and on special teams to show that we are the Memphis Tigers and that this is our time and this is our year and we are ready to go.
On concern about a hurry up offense defensively:
There is no concern about a hurry up offense when Justin Fuente is the head coach. He's done a great job of preparing us not only this year but since he's stepped foot on the campus. We've done so many drills: there's rapid fire and fast ball and things that are fast tempo, up tempo drills that get the defense used to being able to react in a moment's notice in different situations.