Bower: 'They Are a Scary Football Team'

Southern Miss head coach Jeff Bower met with the media to discuss Saturday's game against NC State. Here is a sample of what he had to say.

Opening Statement
"We played well in the game. We had a chance to play a lot of players, and that is always good. I thought we performed well. I thought our effort was good. I was very pleased with our wide receivers. That was the best effort I've seen them play with in a long time. That's the way you've got to approach and play every game at that position. I'm sure that some of the runs we broke, we had help downfield blocking, but we got after it blocking. It was much better. They can be better, but it was better than we've seen. Offensively, the major concern after two weeks is that we've turned it over too many times. We've got to protect the football. I thought we played well defensively. We played a lot of three down linemen, because of what they did. We felt that we had to take the pass away from them. We didn't think they could beat us running the ball. They did run the ball well at time, because we got out of our gaps and missed some tackles. I thought it was a good performance there. It was a good solid win for us, and a good opportunity to play a lot of players. Larry Thomas came in and ran the ball well. I saw a lot of good things, but I saw some things that we need to improve on and get better at."

Players Of The Week:
"On offense, it was Damion Carter. He played 20 snaps and graded 80 percent, catching three passes for 82 yards and a touchdown. He really gave us good effort. Defensively, it was Brandon Sumrall. He played 48 snaps and graded 81 percent. He made four tackles, forced two fumbles, a sack and a tackle for loss. He was very productive again. On special teams, it was Britt Barefoot. He had four kickoffs in the end zone and a punt for 51 yards. He did a good job."

On Injuries:
"We're pretty healthy. I think we're going to hold George Batiste out of practice today. He turned an ankle and he has some swelling. I'm hoping he'll be back at practice tomorrow. Other than that, we have a few minor injuries, but nothing that will keep anyone from practice."

On N.C. State
"They are a scary football team. They're athletic and talented. They are playing very well on defense. They're only giving up 257 yards per game. They are physical and athletic. It will be a physical game, I assure you of that. They are probably not feeling too good about themselves after the loss to Akron. We'll see a good football team coming in here with a lot of talent. They will make you prepare very hard this week in order to win. We've got to do some things better and play a physical game against them. I'm impressed with them. Their running back is a big time player. He's averaging 7.5 yards per carry. He got banged up in the last game and didn't play a lot. I don't know the extent of his injury, but he's very talented."

On Mitch Craft's Return:
"Yes, he is back. Right now, our plans are to start him. We're going to move Gerald McRath over to strong side. We will look at Craft and Jerome Lyons at the middle. Lyons has come on played pretty well. We'll look at both of those guys, and we've got McRath and James Denley at strong-side."

On McRath's Move Back To Strong-Side:
"He's better on the edge than he is in the middle."

On Marcus Raines Moving To Defensive End:
"We've been working him at defensive end. We worked him a lot there last week, and got him in the game for about 10 snaps there. He did some good things."

On Any Other Moves:
"That's pretty much it."

On How Much Confidence Can Be Taken From Last Week's Game:
"We did some things well in the game. Certainly, you gain some confidence. We out-manned them. That's not to down-grade them. They played hard and did some good things. They've got some good players. We knew we'd have to play well in the game. I guess I'll find out more this week. Now you're playing a team that's really talented, is very physical, can run and does good things on both sides of the ball. We needed to have a game like that to get a good feel about ourselves. This will be a real test this week."

On Last Year's N.C. State Game:
"We were in a position to win, but we didn't do it. If we don't tackle any better than we did last week and last year, their back will get as many yards as he did last year."

On N.C. State Losing To Akron:
"The thing you have to understand, N.C. State has played two good teams. Appalachian St., was the 1-AA Champion last year, and Akron won the MAC last year. Akron is a good football team. We played them last year, we know what kind of talent they have. There's a lot of respect for this group. They've got good coaches and they'll correct problems. I look at their ability and what they put on the field. They're impressive."

On N.C. State Losing A Lot From Last Year's Defense:
"They are still pretty darn good. Their two tackles are very good. They are a playing a lot of guys there. They are good on defense and good in the secondary. They're not giving up a lot in the secondary. In two games, opponents have completed 18-of-48 passes for 165 yards per game. That's not real good. They play a lot of man coverage in the secondary. This is a huge week for your receivers getting open and beating man coverage."

On Mitch Craft Starting:
"I don't want to jump the gun on that. I haven't talked to our coaches about that yet. I know he's back. We'll probably look at Jerome Lyons and Craft both this week and see how they practice."

On How Jerome Lyons Did In The Middle:
"He did pretty well."

On If Gerald McRath Starts At Strong-Side:
"I don't know. Gerald hasn't been healthy. He's not moving around like he's capable of. I think his hamstring is bothering him. We've got to get full speed."

On Stephen Reaves And Playing Two Quarterbacks:
"I don't have a plan for that. We were going to get Stephen Reaves into the game. I don't think anything is set in stone. We've got two guys that can play. Stephen did some good things and played well."

On The Defensive Line:
"They're playing ok. Martavius Prince is playing well. We've got to get the rest of them up a level."

On If Playing Four Down Linemen Is Possible This Week:
"I don't know. We're still looking at them. We'll do what we feel like we've got to do."

On The N.C. State Game Plan:
"We're still in the process of looking. You've got to play physical against them. They don't give up many points, and didn't last year. They're very good in the kicking game. Their kickoff returner is a preseason All-American. He's very good. They are very sound in the kicking game."

On Kickoff And Punt Returns:
"We've got be more productive with our return units, both punt and kickoff. We haven't been a lot of yards there. We need to make some things happen there. I don't think it's the returner. We're a little bit off. We only had one kickoff return. We did ok. We were close, but we've got to get 11 guys doing their job. On the punt return unit, we didn't have a lot of opportunity. I thought we should have blocked two, we had one partially blocked by Ivory Bradshaw. I think it ended up being the longest punt of the night. We had a block on earlier, and if we were ready to go, we would've blocked it. We were late. There's no excuse for that. We had a guy come through clean, but he was late. We've got to do some better things there. We've got to get more yards on our kickoff return and punt block and return units."

On The Kickoff Coverage Unit:
"We put Mam Nyang in there. That was his first week to start. He did a good job and caused a fumble."

On If It Is Getting Harder To Schedule High Caliber Non-Conference Games In Hattiesburg:
"I don't know who's coming in. We fell into the N.C. State game after they got bought out. That's how we got the home and home. I'm not sure what we've got coming up. This is a good football team. This is the type of game the fans wanted in Hattiesburg. Here they come. There are some good conference teams coming in here. We're going to always play a tough schedule."

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