HEAD COACH BOBBY WILDER
How was the first practice in the Bahamas?
“It was great. We went for 90 minutes. We went hard. Everything was fast. Everything was constant movement. We need to get acclimated to the 80 degrees and the 75 percent humidity and we accomplished that this morning.”
After a day in Paradise, was it difficult to get the kids focused at practice today?
“It was not hard to get them focused because we’ve addressed over the course of the last three weeks that we would keep our schedule the same – we would go hard in the morning, the focus would be practice. Right now we are at noon time and they are eating lunch, then they are meeting, watching practice, and then from that point they have the rest of the day. They did a very good job with curfew last night. They were all ready to go this morning and this was a very good practice for us today.”
How does the team look injury-wise?
“Much better. We’ve got a couple players that I feel good about coming back – Troy Butler, our starting offensive guard, who I didn’t think there was any way he could come back in the postseason, he’s practicing; Denzel Williams, who was going to be out for the year if we hadn’t played in the postseason, he’s practicing well… These three weeks have really helped the players with bruises and bumps.
What impresses you the most about Eastern Michigan?
“Number one is how hard they play. You can see how determined they are. I know from talking to (EMU Coach) Chris Creighton and from reading articles about him, it all started for them like us. It started in January. He met with his leadership and they had a goal to go to a bowl game coming off a 1-11 (season). We had a goal to go to a bowl game coming off a 5-7 (record), and when you see the commitment by the players – similar to our team – a commitment to compete every play of the game, that’s when you know you’ve got a good football team.”
RICH NAGY, Defensive Coordinator
What concerns you most about the Eastern Michigan offense?
“They’ve got a really good scheme. They’ve got a good run game with some of their quarterback reads, so they are going to challenge you, make you play 11-on-11. That’s always a challenge because you’re trying to keep some depth in your coverage sometimes. But if you’re not careful they can force you into some man situations. Then they get into their explosive plays by doing that, by forcing you to cover the run and then have one-on-ones on the outside and make some throws.”
Is there a team in Conference USA that Eastern Michigan compares to?
“We see it from C-USA (teams). I’d say our team is similar. I’d say Marshall has a similar attack in what they do. In the run game, FIU, FAU. You see the similarities throughout, it’s just each week recognizing what you’ve got to stop.”
On the EMU offensive line:
“They’re really good. And four of those guys have played a long time together. And there is a lot of cohesiveness up there. I think on either side of the ball things start up front. So when you have three or four guys who have played together three or four years usually the communication is good, they’re physical and they play hard.”
RASHAAD COWARD, Sr., DT
How was the first practice in the Bahamas?
“Hot and humid. But it was fun.”
Does the familiarity of playing EMU last season help you?
“It does, but we know we can’t (get complacent) because we beat them. We just treat this like a regular week, we’re preparing, and ready to execute on Friday.”
ANTHONY WILSON, Sr., LB
How has the trip been so far?
“It has been amazing. Ever since we got off the plane the weather has been great. Seeing the water, how clear it is, that’s amazing, it’s not like Virginia Beach back in Norfolk, so it’s been amazing so far. The hotel is humungous. Last night we went around the hotel. We left through one side and came out the other and didn’t know where we were.”
How are you balancing fun with preparations for the bowl game?
“The whole thing is all business. We knew coming in that we were coming in to play a game and try to be 1-0 throughout the week. Coach is letting us have some free time, but at the end of the day, it’s all business.”
What is your impression of Eastern Michigan’s offense?
“Their receivers are very good. Their receivers are helping them out a lot. They have a good running back and quarterback – he’s stepped it up throughout the season.”