SEC Football Championship Teleconference

Casey Clausen: "Coach Fulmer gets the credit that he deserves. It's always been based on us versus Florida. Now he's beat them twice since 1998 and have a chance to play for the national championship, the second one in 4 years."

"He's one of the top three coaches in America and he is the main reason I chose to play football at Tennessee. This team started to play the way we are capable of the second half of last season, and I think it's continued through most of this year. Playing Florida late in the year instead of in September was a great benefit to us. We didn't have several key players back in September that we have now, plus, we are a much improved team now than we were then. It's up to us now and it's in our hands."

DEFENSIVE TACKLE WILL OVERSTREET: "We've had injuries and had people step up in their place this season just like we did in 1998 when we won the National Championship. The seniors really haven't had to lead very much this year. This team is very focused. There really haven't been a need for us seniors to do anything above the norm. LSU has a better running game than Florida does. LSU is much better with Toefield back there. If they get the run going, we will be in trouble. If we stop the run, however, then we can put some pressure on their quarterback and win the game. If we look ahead to Pasadena, we will get beat. If we play not to lose, we will get beat. But the key to beating LSU is stopping the run and making them pass on every down, allowing us to key on putting pressure on Davey. This week is for a ring, an SEC ring."

RUNNING BACK TRAVIS STEPHENS: "I like atroturf. I think I am much quicker playing on the turf. I'm going to try to run hard and try to get through their line if they stack the it to try and stop me. That's fine with me if they do that. That's the good thing about our offense. Then the pass will be wide open. But if they want to stack the line to try to stop me, that's fine, because they will get torn up through the air. We are trying to get to the National Championship, and the next step is LSU. LSU is our focus right now. After LSU, we can talk about the Rose Bowl. When Colorado beat Nebraska, I was surprised, but I was happy, because I knew it would close the gap and help us get to that No. 2 spot in the BCS. Now it's in our hands. We control our own destiny and we are focused. We want to win the SEC Championship, and then worry about the National Championship."

LSU STUDENT-ATHLETES

WIDE RECEIVER JOSH REED "We played Tennessee earlier this season but we have come into our own since then. We are a much improved team and we are looking forward to playing them this time around. Rohan Davey kept everything positive for us and kept us motivated. We have so many other weapons on this team it is hard to keep track of all of them. In the past few weeks we have been able to get the ball to everybody. Hopefully we can go into Atlanta and do the same thing Tennessee did to Florida when they were the underdog. We are just grateful for the opportunity and we are going to try and make the most of it. I think (LaBrandon) Toefield has to have a good game, but everyone has to do their part to win. I don't think there's any concern with us never being on the championship game. We just have to go out there and play like we have the past couple of weeks. I never thought in my life that I would become a good wide receiver when they moved me from running back."

TIGHT END ROBERT ROYAL "I think Tennessee will be up for the game. They have a lot riding on this game just like we do. I think Tennessee wants to prove to everybody that we can't play with them so they have a lot to prove also. I think we are here this season because first of all, we became a team and we have had some very good practices. We have been playing consistent football and now we are putting everything together offensively, defensively and on special teams. It is a different team than when we beat Tennessee in Baton Rouge, but it is still something we can learn from and use as motivation. Rohan Davey is an unbelievable guy on and off the field. He has worked tremendously hard in the off season and not only that, he is a true competitor. When you have a true competitor it is hard to keep him off the field. We still believed we could bounce back after the 0-2 start to the season. We started practicing well through the course of the season and our confidence wasn't bad. We knew we could win games and we could compete, it was just how we were going to get it done."

LINEBACKER TREV FAULK "Travis Stephens is one of the best backs and I want to play against the best backs so this is really exciting. That's why people come to the SEC to play against the best in the nation. He is an exciting runner and seems to just get stronger throughout a game. We have to try and match their balance on defense. It's not like we can put nine in the box to stop Stephens because they will throw over the top of us. If we put eight in the defensive backfield Stephens will run right through us, so we have to try and equal Tennessee's balance. A lot of people feel that we are just happy to be here, but we want to be the SEC Champions. A lot of people think Tennessee has more motivation to be here because if they win, they will play for the National Championship, but they still have to get by us to do that. We want to be SEC Champions so we have the motivation as well.

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QUOTES FROM SUNDAY'S SEC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME FOOTBALL COACHES MEDIA TELECONFERENCE

Phillip Fulmer, Tennessee - "Obviously we are pleased with the win and the effort our team gave at Florida. This will be a great challenge ahead of us in LSU. They are an outstanding football team. Rohan Davey is an excellent quarterback and LaBrandon Toefield is one of the top running backs in the conference. Both teams have improved throughout the course of the year. We are going to got to Atlanta and try and get this job done. We are a little healthier than we were last time we played LSU. I also think we are a little better football team. Our team has been pretty good about taking to heart what their challenges are. I fully expect them to do that again. The win against Florida was certainly great. There's been several wins as big as that one in recent history but there was nothing about the Florida game that can help us one bit this week except for the experience of that type of game. Last night was a huge effort in our part. Not many people believed we could get that done except for our team and our fans back in Tennessee. We enjoyed after the game and last night when we got home. But today it's all business. Our focus right now is how are we going to get this done against LSU. We have a veteran staff and certainly the experience in 1998 should be a plus for us. The maturity of our team may help us more than that. I thought that Saturday was one of the best efforts we've had this season. When we are hitting on all cylinders like Saturday night, this is a really good football team. The thing that is tough about our conference is you have to win it twice. You have to win the regular season championship, then the championship game. In the Southeastern Conference, every week is like a playoff game. The whole 2000 season was a learning experience for our football team. We were young and not too good of a football team. I really appreciate that team because of the fight that team had and that carried over to this year's team. I think all this attention this game gets will not be a distraction. Kids come to this school for the attention it gets, so I think they'll be fine."

Nick Saban, LSU - "We are very pleased with the win on Saturday and this was a big game for us. It was a great win over Auburn who competed hard. I am also very pleased with the way our kids have rebounded from earlier in the year and have us in the SEC Championship game. Tennessee has a great team and a great offense. This will be a great opportunity for our team and we'll do the best we can to keep our kids focused on the team we are playing. Either team we played is an outstanding team. Obviously, Tennessee beat Florida so they are the better team right now. We're not thinking to much about what bowl we are going to, just what we need to do to try and beat Tennessee. Toefield's presence has been creating some consistency for us. I think our team responds well to him. It really helps us from a balance standpoint when we can run the ball well and throw well. I think Tennessee has an outstanding defense and anytime you face a team that is great againstthe run, your options will be limited. The key for us will be to find a way to run the ball against them. We need to get on track right away and establish a running game so our passing game will open up. Casey Clausen has improved week-by-week to where he is an effective weapon now. It is a difficult thing to defend a team who has the balance and effectiveness the way Tennessee has. Our consistency in the passing game has improved throughout the year and I think we have played a little better on defense. I don't know if that is going to help us in this one game against Tennessee. We played a pretty good football game at Tennessee earlier this year, but we just couldn't run the ball against them. We are going to play as well as we can play for us to have a chance against them. I think anytime a team has been to this type of a game before, they have an advantage. We are kind of an upstart team and going to the championship game is a new thing for us. I don't know how our team will respond but we want to play in games like this."


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