Woody Widenhofer's postgame press conference:
WW: I think Middle Tennessee State played a great game. They deserved to win. We came up short at the end. I think at times, we played decent, especially on offense. We lacked consistency throughout the game.
All I can say is this is one of the toughest losses I've ever been involved in. It goes back to the Kentucky game a couple of years ago when we had a chance to go to a bowl game if we won it. This ranks right up there.
It is not the end of the world, it is not the end of the season. We have 10 ballgames left. We have to regroup, eliminate our mistakes and try to get better. We are going into a tough part of our schedule.
I know our team feels terrible. We knew it was going to be a dogfight. But we felt like we could win.
(What happened on the failed field goal?)
It was a bad snap from center and we didn't get the field goal.
(Was Hicks as good as you thought he would be?)
I knew they had some firepower on offense. They played about like I thought they would. They thought they had a chance. When they jumped out 14-0, it gave them confidence and they carried it through the rest of the ballgame.
(Comment on M.J. Garrett's performance)
We think M.J. will be a fine player for us. Also Greg Zolman. It is going to be interesting to see how this team responds.
(What defensive adjustments did you make at halftime?)
We tried to play a little more Cover-2. We tried to take away the quick hitches outside. The guy who played well for them is the quarterback, Counts. I thought he had a terrific game. He made some good decisions and never panicked. He didn't turn the ball over.
(Did the Ray Perkins situation have an effect?)
We didn't lose the game because of Ray Perkins. I thought our running backs played pretty good. I have no excuses. Middle Tennessee State came in and played very well and beat us.
(Did you consider going with five or six defensive backs against their wide receivers?)
You can't do that against a no-huddle. That is why people no-huddle.
(Even at the beginning of a drive?)
You don't know what is going to be on the field. That is the reason for the no-huddle. It creates problems because it prevents you from getting personnel on the field.
(Do you think the defense showed some immaturity with some personal fouls in the second half?)
I wasn't very happy with the defense, that's for sure. We did not make good decisions. Those two 15-yard penalties set up a score.
(Were you upset with your team's tackling?)
I wasn't happy with it, but maybe it is because Hicks is quite a football player. He was running very hard and broke a lot of tackles. I can come down on our players, but you have to give him some credit, also.
(Did the no-huddle throw you off?)
No. We played against it for the last four months. They just executed better than I thought they would. That is Counts. I thought he did a terrific job.
(Talk about playing someone local)
It was a tough battle. I just feel really terrible because we let a lot of fans down out there and also a lot of our team played as hard as they can play. I'm responsible for all of it, so I have to make the corrections and get ready from Alabama.
(How hard will it be to rebound from this?)
It is going to be tough. I don't see this team falling apart. I see this team getting better and fighting back.
I won't say this is devastating, but it is definitely a tough loss. We have to bounce back next week against Alabama. We knew coming in we were probably going to have to score a lot of points. It was a high-scoring game, probably a fans' game, but it was a rough one for us.
We knew all week the plays that were going to work. We practiced them over and over, and they worked in the game. We just got the opportunity and were able to capitalize on it. There were still some more plays out there that I could have made that I wish I could have back.
My injury didn't limit me. I sprained my AC joint. It is OK.
I can't even begin to explain what is going on with this team right now. If I know the leadership some of these seniors have and some of these captains have, there is always light at the end of the tunnel. We can bounce back from this. You can tell everything about a man by the way he handles adversity. You can either take it and quit or take it and move on. If I know these guys, we are going to take it and move on. It is going to set a fire in us and we are going to get Alabama.
There is really no excuse for the mental lapses. Dropped passes happen. It was the first game, so you expect a few more in the first game than you normally would. MTSU came out to play today. Tip your hat to them. They had a great offensive scheme. For us, it is not the defense, it is not the offense. It is a whole team deal. We are just going to move on.
This is a very disappointing loss. It hurts. All we can do is prepare for Alabama, but as a team, we are hurting.
We missed too many tackles. I feel like we beat ourselves.
The pass interference was not a good call. I did not think that was pass interference. The personal foul I had, that was my fault. I should have never celebrated. I should have used my head.
This is the season-opener and we wanted to get off to a good start to get the season rolling, but it is not going to hold this team back. We have lost plenty of games around here and we know how to handle it.
It is unfortunate the offense sputtered in the second half. The defense gave us some chances. We didn't take advantage.
I try not to think about the dropped passes during the game. I can't control that. I do the best I can to block that out and move on. I know our receivers worked hard to improve their hands.