2004 Football Media Day: Player Quotes
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  08/10/2004
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

Aug. 10, 2004

Sophomore Quarterback Kole McKamey

Q: How tough is it going to be to replace some of the guys you lost from last year, mainly the quarterback position? Kole McKamey: "It's going to be tough. For people who could hang out in the shadows last year, this season they are going to need to step out. It's a good time for them to step up and take on a big role this year. That's what's going to have to happen with just about every position, offensive line, not so much running backs because we got everybody back, but receivers and especially quarterback position." Q: How do you see your role coming into the season? KM: "If I'm the main starter, I'm going to have to be the person who's got to get out there everyday and practice, and every Friday night or Saturday night, lead this team and be a play maker, a difference maker and someone to count on. That's going to be huge. It's a lot of pressure and a lot of weight on my shoulders, but playing quarterback, that's what you like." Q: If you were making a case for Kole McKamey to be the starting QB, what would you say you have going for you? What do you have working in your favor? KM: "You know I have thought about that and that's kind of a tough question to answer, but the more I think about it, I just think I have a sense of urgency with the team. When I am out there, I bring a sense of urgency, we got to get it done. It's time to step up in a big way. It's time for the program to step up and it's time for players to step up. I really believe I bring that to our team and especially to our offense." Q: If you are not starting QB on opening day, is that a role you can accept as well? KM: "Yes and no. Yes, it's a role I would have to accept. No, in my mind I am determined to prove to coach Long that he made the wrong decision and that's how both Tali and I are looking at it. The person who is not named as a starter has to look at it as having to prove them wrong and that's how we are both going to go at this." Q: Do you like that competition? KM: "Oh yeah. Tali is a good quarterback and he works hard and he pushes me. I'm a good quarterback and I'm pushing Tali and I am making him work harder everyday. It's been this on going battle ever since we got here. We have been pushing each other back and forth and the person who takes more out of that, being pushed, that's who is going to be named starter." Q: What's the expectation for this year? KM: Huge. These past couple of years, people have said let's make it to a bowl game, let's win conference. Now it's we are winning conference, we're going to Memphis. There's nothing else about it."

Senior Kicker Wes Zunker

Q: What is your personal goal going into this year? Wes Zunker: "To have a better season than I did last year. It's kind of hard to do after missing only two field goals. My goal is to be 100 percent with everything I do. Hit all my kickoffs in the end zone this year and once again be first team all-conference. I am up for the Lou Groza Award and that would be a spectacular honor to achieve. That's just something I am striving for to see if I can get my name out there in that race." Q: What's kind of the mentality of a kicker? WZ: "You hear about a lot of these kickers on how they get all mentally prepared. I've been through all of that and my philosophy is to just go out there and just do it. You've been practicing so long and when you get out there you try to zone everything out and just get out there and kick it. That's all you can do." Q: How far can you kick it? WZ: Furthest I've hit in practice was a 67 (-yard field goal) by myself. With the team, the furthest I hit I think was a 55." Q: When you come out to kick the game winner do you feel the pressure? WZ: "It's weird, I just go into a zone. I can't hear anything, I really can't see the crowd. It's kind of weird. I don't really feel like I'm out there kicking the ball. When I get done, I'm like what did I just do? I think it's just after so many repetitions. When you get out there with that many people hollering at you, you just block it all out and your body just knows what to do." Q: Is there a worse feeling than missing a game-winning field goal? WZ: "I don't think so. I played baseball and I always hated striking out, but I don't think it could get any worse than that. It's hard to think of it as all your fault, but it seems that way. There's probably many times throughout the game that you think if he would of made this catch or that tackle it wouldn't have to come down to this. You try to be as optimistic as possible, but if you miss a game winner it's going to be hard to sleep that night."

Junior Wide Receiver Hank Baskett

Question: Seems like the summer went by so quick, could you use another week off? Hank Baskett: "Oh no, I couldn't use another week off, I'm so ready for the season to get started, I've been losing sleep just thinking about plays. I'm ready to get the season started." Q: Why are you so excited this year? HB: "I guess it's my year, I'm ready to step into a roll that everybody sees me in, prove myself, go out there and get my chance to show everybody what I can do." Q: You have had some balls thrown to you, but you haven't been the main man, are you ready for that kind of role? HB: "Oh, I'm definitely ready for that kind of role. I was a role player back in the day, and now I'm ready to step up and be one of the team leaders." Q: Can the receiving corps be a strength to the team this year? HB: "I definitely think the receiving corps can be a strength to this team. We may not have the big names that we had over the past couple of years, but the togetherness and the closeness of this group is definitely one thing that I am ready for everyone to see. Everyone stepped up and showed that they wanted to be a part of our offensive success. They may not be the go to guys, but they all wanted to have their chance and I think everyone given an opportunity will come through this season." Q: Where are you at as a receiver, what have you been working on to get better as a receiver? HB: "I think this summer has been the summer that I really learned the small things of being a receiver because I didn't do it in high school and last year I was more behind the scenes, watching more than actually doing anything. This year I've stepped out of the basic role of being a receiver and I've tried to be more of a playmaker to do whatever I can to help the team." Q: For the first time in a long time, there is question about who will be your starting quarterback, what are your thoughts on that QB battle? HB: "It's definitely going to be a battle and everyone is going to have to come out and watch at camp. I can't say who's winning the battle right now, because they both have their own attributes, but I think whoever takes the role will lead us to the promised land."

Senior Offensive Tackle Claude Terrell

Question: It seems like football season never ends for you, are you anxious to put the pads on? Claude Terrell: "I'm ready to go. This is my last season, I'm a senior, and it seems like I've been here an eternity. Now I only have eleven guaranteed games. It's starting to sink in that this is my last chance to play college football, so I'm ready to get started." Q: How good is this team going to be this year? There are a lot of holes to fill. CT: "Were young and we have a lot of new guys, but I feel like we are going to go all the way this year. Anything less than a MWC championship and the Liberty Bowl is a failure." Q: How can you say that, this is New Mexico, you're not supposed to talk like that are you? CT: "Oh, but I've been here working with these guys and I can see the hunger. A lot of our new guys are hungry too, and I can see that they are ready to play. Playing in the non-conference games is going to be great experience for them going into the conference games." Q: Do you think Coach Long has over scheduled a little to start the season? CT: "No, coach always said if we want to be considered the best, then we have to play the best. We have four good non-conference opponents, so there is no better way to do this." Q: It obviously makes a big difference changing positions, are you up for the challenge? CT: "No question about it. I just want to be in the best shape possible. I'm going to be going against some better athletes on the ends and I just want to be able to dominate." Q: As far as the running game, is that going to be the strength of the team again? CT: "Yeah, it has to be, because we have a new QB and we have new receivers. If we are able to be dominant up front and establish a running game, that will make the transition for those guys a lot smoother and not put as much pressure on them." Q: How big of a concern is the QB position? CT: "I have full confidence in whoever coach Long picks. Me and my fellow Hitmen will do our job to the best of our ability and be dominant, whoever the QB is. We want to make his job easier."

Senior Quarterback Tali Ena

Question: You have an important few weeks coming up for your self, is your stomach turning in circles, how are you handling this? Tali Ena: "Yeah, a little bit. I think that goes for most of the guys. We're all pretty excited, kind of in the heat of the battle for me. Kole (McKamey) is very competitive and I consider myself to be competitive. Now we just have to go in there with the right attitude and work on improving." Q: So what do you need to improve on? TE: "I'd say most importantly, understanding all areas of the offense and knowing my options. I think that is my biggest weakness right now and something that I need to become more familiar with, and make it more of a strength for myself. I'm not that far away from it, there are just a few things that get me here and there, I think I'm picking up pretty good where I left off this spring and I think that is where I should be." Q: How good is this team going be, do you have a gut feeling yet? TE: "I have a real good feeling. We really embraced the team concept. This year it is just a different feeling. Everyone gets along a lot better. We lack experience, but there are a lot of guys who are following in the footsteps of a lot of good players and that is the right path to take. We are really coming together as a team, especially over the summer, we got a lot done as a team this summer." Q: How much would it mean to start against Washington State, your old team? TE: "It would mean an awful lot, but the best guys are going to play, and the coaches are going to make that decision, and we all have faith in that."

Senior Linebacker Nick Speegle

Q: Needing help on defense, do you feel like you have to step up and be one of the leaders? NS: "Yeah that is part of it. Everyone looks to me to get everyone going and that's what I need to do. As long as the other captains and seniors get the team going where we want them to go, we will be headed in the right direction." Q: Do you see this year's defense as a play-making defense? NS: "We'll see, practice hasn't even started yet, but the coaches are aware of the beginning of last year, not really causing any turnovers. At that point we did more turnover drills, and then the turnovers started to come. So I'm sure we will practice that at the beginning of the season this year." Q: This team as a whole has been a slow starter. As a team you want to be strong towards the end of the season, but you don't want to give up too many games in the beginning either? NS: "Yeah I don't know why that happens to us. We have started off slow in the past four years since I've been here. We have to change that. We can't start off with three losses, it's not good for our team, especially for the younger guys. They don't know what it's like to have to come back from a slow start, so we definitely want to get some wins in the beginning of the season." Q: Do you think of playing football beyond college? Are you putting individual pressure on yourself to have a good year? NS: "A little bit, but I'm more focused on now and what I have to do now. I don't let any of that other stuff get to me, because I don't want it to affect my game. Watching all the seniors go through what they went through last year, it's just something I don't want to worry about right now."

Junior Tailback DonTrell Moore

(On the start of his junior season.) "It is going by really fast, but I am excited. I feel the best since I've been here and it is just exciting to be a part of this program. It's crazy to think that three years ago I walked on campus, so now I am embracing the whole experience and enjoying it. "

Junior DonTrell Moore

(Has the loss in the Las Vegas Bowl provided any motivation going into the 2004 season?) "It is out of our system until we go to Corvallis. We took what we could from the Vegas Bowl, but the focus now is on Washington State." (On the exposure the program is going to receive on ESPN against Washington State.) "It really doesn't get any better than opening up against Washington State at home on national television. That's the way we want it. We want to play in those kind of games. That why most of the guys came here, to attack a challenge like that and be the best possible team we can be." (On his goals for the 2004 season.) "I really don't set individual statistical goals. I never have, so I don't think I need to start now. I just want to do the little things - getting wider, getting faster, be a better blocker and a better team player - and take care of those things. The yards and touchdowns will come later." (On replacing 14 starters from last year's team.) "It is very wide open right now. We have a lot of talent in those spots and I am confident enough in those guys to be able to step up and use their athletic ability to compensate for their inexperience. It is up to the guys with experience to take the other players under our wing and help make them better and more confident players. It is the same thing the older players did for us when we were in that same situation." (On the competition between Kole McKamey and Tali Ena for the starting quarterback position.) "The competition is great. Without competition you don't have people stepping out of their comfort zone and playing the best football they can play. They are both very capable of leading us to a conference championship. The coaching staff will make the best possible decision for us to be the best football team we can be. I just want them both to play well."

Senior Linebacker Fola Fashola

(On getting a sixth year of eligibility.) "Last year I started out good and then got hurt in the second game, so that was disappointing. This year I've been given another opportunity. I am trying to get back on track to where I left off last season and be even better than that. Right now I would say I am about 95%. There are still some things I can't do, but by the time the season comes around I'll be ready." (On this year's defense and replacing a lot of starters.) "We've got a few guys who have played here a while. The one thing that makes a defense is the attitude. A lot of us are undersized, as some people say, but we make up for that with our athletic ability and our effort. We've just got to reload and use what we've got and make the season worthwile." (On the goals for the season.) "We just want to continue the tradition we have started here. We've have gone to two straight bowl games and we want to continue that trend." (On opening up on national television at home.) "It is a big thing for our university. A lot of people get to watch us and our family members who can't travel here will get to see us play."