HEAD COACH P.J. FLECK
General thoughts on arrival in Nassau
“I’ve never seen a team more excited to actually get on a plane and go play a game. That’s what it’s all about. About 90 percent of those kids may never travel out of the country, and they may never be able to come to the Bahamas again. We’re ecstatic about being here. We’ve got a tremendous opponent. We’ve got a wonderful support staff. Popeyes, ESPN and the Bahamas Bowl staff have been absolutely amazing to us. This is an experience our kids will remember for a lifetime.”
How will your team balance work and play this week?
“It’s the same way we train back in Kalamazoo, Michigan. When we work, we work; when we have fun, we have fun. I think the biggest part is building a bridge between those two. Especially when you are here for three or four days – not be distracted by too much fun and too much work, it’s got to be able to balance out. I think our schedule allows our players to do that.”
On the heels of making consecutive bowl game appearances for the first time in the history of the program, what would the first bowl victory in school history mean to the program?
“(It would be) Very similar to back-to-back bowl games. We haven’t won a MAC West championship since 2000 – close to 15 years. We’ve only won three MAC West titles in 125 years, which we did this year. It would be the next step. That’s all it really is, the next step for this to become a traditional championship-type football team, and that’s what we are working on making it.
What is the health of the team entering the Popeyes Bahamas Bowl?
“We’ve got some guys who are out for the year that this won’t affect at all – they are still out for the year. It’s really given us a lot of time to be able to recover some of the guys who maybe had some bumps and bruises. It’s given us time to be able to give some of our redshirt freshmen basically another spring ball, which has been absolutely awesome. Any time you have a chance to go to a bowl game it helps.”
ZACH TERRELL, Jr., QB
How many of the Broncos have been to the Bahamas?
“Maybe a handful. I’ve been here one time before, on a cruise, I stopped through, but that was years ago. I know our guys are really, really excited to be here. What an opportunity for all of us – a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity – and we get to play football down here, and possibly win the first bowl game in program history. It’s kind of magical and it’s a lot of fun to be here.”
On balancing fun with the goal of winning the game
“We learned a lot last year. Last year was our first bowl game in a long time. I think guys were just happy to be there. Now, it’s different. Guys are excited to be here and to have fun, but we really talked about bridging the gap between fun and business. When it’s time to work, we’ll work; when it’s time to have fun, we’re going to have fun. That’s the great thing about our team – we have a lot of mature guys that understand why we are here, and that’s to win a football game. At the same time we’re going to enjoy ourselves, but we are going to conduct ourselves like professionals. That’s what the expectation is and that’s what we’ll do.
What are the players looking forward to doing most?
“It’s all over the place. I think swimming with the dolphins is something we’re all looking forward to doing. Like I said, most guys haven’t been here before, so we just want to soak it all in and getting to experience as much as possible because this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
What would the first bowl victory in school history mean to the program?
“This is a season of ‘nevers.’ We had never been to back-to-back bowl games. We never won eight games back-to-back. There are just a lot of things we wanted to accomplish. There’s another one on the table – to win a bowl game. (Western Michigan) has never won a bowl game in all our years of playing football. So, what a tremendous opportunity going against an awesome team like Middle Tennessee State.”
What do you know about the Middle Tennessee defense?
“I know a lot, by now. We’ve had a lot of time to prepare. They are really tough. We have worked really hard the past couple weeks preparing for them and we know they are going to present a lot of challenges for us, and they have a very tough defense. They’ve played hard and they’ve played well all season. They’ve played a lot of tough teams in their non-conference, like we have, and they played a really tough schedule within the conference. We’re really looking forward to the challenge. They present a lot of things that will be difficult, but we are up for it and are really looking forward to it.”
WILLIE BEAVERS, All-MAC, Sr., OL
What are the Broncos looking forward to doing outside of football?
“I’m really looking forward to swimming with the dolphins. I’ve never done that. I’ve heard it’s an unbelievable experience.”
How do you focus on the goal of winning the game while having fun in the Bahamas?
“We have our free time that’s our fun time and get-away time, but we also have our time to focus in. We know how to separate those two.”
On Middle Tennessee’s defense:
“They’re a really good team. They’re very good up front – I think that’s a strength of their defense. Their interior linemen are very good. The entire defense is very good and it will be a good challenge.”
What team did you play this season reminds you of Middle Tennessee?
“I think they are unique in what they do. The team closest to them (from our schedule), is Georgia Southern. They’re really physical and really good and really get after it.”