December 22nd, 2015 | BAHAMAS BOWL


Western Michigan Quotes – Dec. 22, 2015

Western Michigan held its second of three practices in Nassau Tuesday morning at Roscow A. L. Davies Soccer Field near Robinson Stadium.

KIRK CIAROCCA, Offensive Coordinator

On practices this week in Nassau

“I’m really pleased. Kids have been able to separate the fun – and there’s a lot of fun to be had here – from the work. When we’ve gotten to the practice fields the kids have been able to make the transition. I’m really happy with their preparation.”

On Middle Tennessee State’s defense

“I think they’re really strong up the middle. Football is kind of like baseball – when you’re strong up the middle you have a pretty good unit. They’re defensive tackles are big and strong and hard to move. You don’t get to knock them off the ball very much, and then their inside linebackers are good players, especially (T.T. Barber), he’s really good, and they’re safety is a really good player, too. That jumped out at me right away when watching the film. That’s the strength of their defense, right down the middle.

“The other thing that impresses me about them is that they’re very sound. Very few times do you stop the tape and say, hold on a minute, somebody’s out of place here.’  That’s really a mark of a well-coached, disciplined unit.”

On keys to success Thursday

“We always stress three things. We’re always talking to our guys about how it doesn’t matter who we play, but it’s about how we play. We must take care of the ball – we always have to do that – and then we must executive, and then we need to out-play our opponent, out-work them. Those are always our three keys, whoever we’re playing.

“We’re at our best when we are balanced. We feel like we can beat you running the ball 70 times, but we also feel like we can beat you throwing the ball 60 times. But at the same time we know we are at our best running AND throwing.”

On the balance of the offense

“We’ve got three running backs that we’re very comfortable with, and we’ll play all three of them, plus we have a fourth guy who will play on third down for us. Our top two wideouts are Corey Davis and Daniel Braverman, and we think they are as good as any two in the country, period – doesn’t matter, Power 5 or anybody I’d like to see two guys who are better than those two. It does give us some flexibility. When you have two wideouts like that it’s very difficult for defenses to stop them both and be able to stop the run.”

Do the coaches get to have fun at bowl games?

“We do. P.J. (Fleck) does a great job of… we try to get as much work done as we can at home before we got here, so we worked really hard to do that and spend some time with the family. But the truth of the matter the bowl game is for the players and the families. They are the ones that get to have the most amount of fun, but this is such a great place, it’s hard not to have fun. I’ve had an incredible trip already.”

#32, JAMAURI BOGAN, r-Fr., RB (MAC Freshman of the Year)

On practices this week in Nassau

“I think practices have gone very well. The weather is a lot different compared to Michigan but we’ve practiced indoors the last few weeks to get prepared for this. We’re all excited for the game.”

On the bowl experience

“I don’t think anything compares to being in the Bahamas, especially for a bowl. It’s a very special experience. It’s like an experience you might only get once in a lifetime. You get a passport, which I’ve never had before, and to come out here and experience what we’ve experienced is phenomenal.”

On Middle Tennessee State’s defense

“They’re huge. They’re physical. They’re tough. They’re really good. They were a team that was in a really good league and played very well and didn’t back down to anybody. They’re physicality and they’re size… you see it when you walk around (the hotel), they’re huge. It will be a tough match-up for us.”

On a key for WMU’s offense to have success

“The key is always up front. I think the biggest thing for us is to take care of the line of scrimmage. After that athletes can be athletes, but if we don’t take care of the line of scrimmage we have no chance. That’s why we place so much value on the offensive line because they matter so much to us.”

On playing on grass for just the second time this season

“I think it (grass) feels phenomenal on the body. Playing on turf is cool and everything, but it doesn’t have that give that grass has. As we went out for practice the other day we started to feel the difference in how the body reacts to grass. You actually feel a lot faster and better.”

On playing both Michigan State and Ohio State this season

“I think it makes you better. Coach always talks about focusing on the process of winning. The process will take you where you set out to go. That process had to happen for us to be here right now. We had to go through those bumps and bruises to get where we’re at right now. Those games were very physical. Those teams were extremely good and extremely well-coached. It just prepares you for every game we had in conference play and it’s definitely going to prepare us for this game.”


On practice since arriving in the Bahamas

“I think practice is going very well. We’re polishing up all of our plays and getting everything ready. We’re getting a lot more confidence as the week goes on.”

On balancing fun and football

“What Coach (Fleck) says is that there are two sides of the bridge. There’s this side – the Atlantis, the fun side of the bridge – but when we cross the bridge it’s time to work. We’ve really got to lock in. Coach constantly reminds us why we are here. We are here to win a bowl game, something that’s never been done in Western Michigan history. That’s really the ultimate goal, it’s what we’re all striving for.”

On what a bowl victory would mean to the program

“We all talk about it and how it would be a big step for the program. For us, this has been a year of ‘nevers.’ We’ve never gone to back-to-back bowl games, and we’ve never won a bowl game, and that would be the next big step. It would be good for the seniors to go out on a note like that.”

On Middle Tennessee State’s defense

“They’re a very good defense. They have big, stout defensive tackles – that’s what I look at more than anything. They have a good linebacking corps.  As we continue to prepare we are feeling more and more ready for the game.”

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