Q & A With Mike Ayers

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Q & A With Mike Ayers

Postby Rowdy on Wed Jul 25, 2007 8:36 am

From the 07/25/2007 Spartanburg Herald Journal

Q&A with Mike Ayers
By DAN ARMONAITIS, For the Herald-Journal
Published July 25, 2007




Wofford head coach Mike Ayers fielded a variety of questions from the media during the Southern Conference Football Rouser on Tuesday at the Embassy Suites.

Here's a sampling of Ayers' thoughts on topics ranging from the lofty expectations for the Terriers this season to his personal passion for fishing:

ON THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE OF STARTING A NEW SEASON: "I think the toughest thing is developing a mindset that you start work on Sunday, you finish work on Saturday and there are no off days in between. Monday is our day not to practice, but when you're looking at Wofford, you're looking at all the academics that kids have to do as far as their tests and papers and stuff like that, so it's always a full week. Being ready every week is going to be the key."

ON THE TEAM'S OFF-SEASON PREPARATIONS: "I think our off-season program went extremely well. … We've got a group of kids that trained extremely hard before they left to go home on summer break, and we hope that they continued on that same pace and we're going to come back with a very fit football team and a football team that, quite frankly, I think is hungry to see if we can get into the playoffs and to see if we can win a Southern Conference championship."

ON THE TEAM BEING RANKED AS HIGH AS FIFTH NATIONALLY IN PRESEASON POLLS: "Preseason is just preseason. It means nothing. The proof is going to be in the pudding, and that's going to be at the end of November. If you do what you're supposed to do - if we do what we're capable of doing -- we'll probably have a chance to play more than 11 football games. If we don't, then we won't."

ON THE PLAYERS' REACTION TO PRESEASON HYPE: "I think our kids are excited that they can open up a magazine, and say 'gosh, we're fifth in the country.' But they're also smart enough to realize that we play in an unbelievable league. You're in a league where every Saturday it's the 'I've got to prove it' league."

ON LAST SEASON'S STRONG FINISH: "By the third football game, we were beat to pieces on defense, and we were struggling. We got to where we were 2-4, and it looked like the ship was going to sink. But to our coaches' credit and to our kids' credit, they hung in there and we won five in a row and, quite frankly, at the end of the year, we were on a roll and were a good football team."

ON NOT HAVING A BYE WEEK ON THIS YEAR'S SCHEDULE: "Once we start, you can't get out of the boat. It's kind of interesting. You look at the teams that we start with and the journey that we're on and it's going to be keep-your-hand-on-the-wheel because there's no pull over time. There's no down time. There's no stop-at-the-rest-stop time. We're going to have to keep our nose to the grindstone and get after it."

ON THE TEAM'S WORK ETHIC: "We've got a great group of guys that are get-it-done guys. They'll step up. You'll say 'I need this performance' or 'I need this level,' and they're willing to get after it."

ON TEAM CHEMISTRY: "They care for one another, and they're a close group. And I think things like that lead to great chemistry, and great chemistry leads to guys trusting one another and counting on one another and believing in one another."

ON SENIOR QUARTERBACK JOSH COLLIER: "Josh is a guy that has paid the price. He's a guy that does a great job with the work ethic, and he's become more vocal as far as showing guys that he is a leader. Quite frankly, the second half, he was on. He was on mentally every game, he was on physically every game, he made the right decisions, and he helped us to be a pretty explosive offense those last five football games. He had a good spring, and he feels - and we feel - that he can take this football team as far as we need to go."

ON NCAA DIVISION I-AA NOW BEING KNOWN AS THE DIVISION I FOOTBALL CHAMPIONSHIP SUBDIVISION: "I think, quite frankly, it clears things up. The thing that I understand is this - and I've coached for a long time. Some of the greatest football played on a Saturday is at our level, and some of the best games in football have occurred at our level. … And I think it allows us to go in and say, 'hey, we are Division I.' The only difference is the number of scholarships."

ON THE RULE CHANGE PUSHING KICKOFFS BACK TO THE 30-YARD-LINE: "I think that 30-yard-line rule might be the most significant rule that's happened in football for a while. The majority of the time, when a team has a great kicker, it's going to be kicked deep enough into the end zone and there's no return. But from now on, the majority of the time, that ball's coming out. And, so, from a defensive mentality, your first defensive snap is that kickoff cover, and you better do a great job on that. … And that's going to be one of the really critical things that we're going to work on as a (coaching) staff."

ON THE TEAM'S WINGBONE OFFENSE: "It's an offense that has allowed us to win a lot of football games over the years, and it's an offense that I think is constantly evolving in some ways while being consistent in other ways. And I think it's an offense you don't see (often). I'll give you an example. You're a defense, and you're facing the same offense running the same plays for five weeks. After about the fifth week, you're going to be really good at stopping that offense, but all of a sudden, I bring an offense in there and it's like, 'good gracious, everything's going this way and that way.' It causes you problems."

ON SIMILARITIES BETWEEN THIS YEAR'S TEAM AND THE 2003 TEAM THAT MADE IT TO THE NATIONAL SEMIFINALS: "I think when you look at 2003 and when you look at the 2007 team, there are a lot of similarities as far as the maturity of the team, as far as the character of the team, and as far as the closeness of the team. There's a lot of things that make you say, 'gosh, it kind of looks like it did in 2003.' "

ON FISHING THIS SUMMER: "I did a little fly fishing, I did a little striper fisher. I don't want to say that I was successful, but I was successful…. When I went striper fishing, we tore them up. The last two trout fishing sessions I had, we just smoked them."

ON THE BEST FISHING SPOT: "I can't tell you."
Rowdy
 

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