The Owls will host Middle Tennessee Saturday afternoon for their 2019 C-USA home opener looking for their fourth straight win. In preparation, Coach Kiffin held his weekly media teleconference Monday afternoon. Below are the highlights from that session.
We got back to work today with practice. (We) got a little bit of a head start last week. We have been pretty beat up since the first two games, especially at DB and running back., so hopefully, we will start to get healthier. The bye week coming at a good time, from that standpoint. Playing the defending divisional champs, and this has been, before we got here if I recall (MT had) eight or nine straight wins or something like that. We got the good win two years ago and screwed up last year, so we are doing all we can to get it back on track.
What stands out to you about Middle Tennessee's offense with them having the new QB instead of (Brent) Stockstill?
He seems to get out of a lot of trouble and makes a lot of plays with his feet. We are going to have our hands full that way with him. They put up a lot of yards Saturday against Marshall. They did a great job protecting the ball.
It seems like you guys are playing a lot better in the second half of games as compared to last year. What do you attribute that to?
It involves depth. We are playing more players. I hope it's got to do with being a better team and finishing, which is what we did in year one and did not do in year two.
When you say depth, do you mean having guys on the sides at the end so that you have more energy to finish strong?
No, I mean rotating more guys in there so that our play counts aren't so high in the fourth quarter, which was definitely an issue last year.
How did Vlady (Vladimir Rivas) respond to reopening the kicking battle?
Neck and neck. They kicked again today. We don't have a decision yet. But, they both kicked well today.
When you say both is that Vlady and (Aaron) Shahriari or Vlady and (Logan) McLeod?
Shahriari. McLeod is not on the roster.
How much can you pull off of (Brent) Stockstill this week that may give you a little advantage?
Anytime you have a, usually it is a coach coming, in this case a player coming, it is probably overrated a little bit. You see all the time staffs coming from a place and doesn't beat the team they come from. So, it helps with personnel. If they have scheme questions on defense "why do they do this," "what do they read on this," they can help with that.
Have you officially ruled out BJ Emmons and Sebastian Riella for the year or is there a chance that either will come back?
If they did, it would be really late, bowl game probably.
Realistically, we are probably not going to see them this year?