Jerry Moore: "One opponent at a time" Exclusive to Every Game Counts
By: Jerry Moore
We don’t talk about playing for a national championship much around here. As a team, our goal remains the same each year: win the Southern Conference championship. If you do that, you’ve got a shot at the national championship.
Once we get in the postseason, we still don’t talk much about winning a national title. We just try to take it one week, one game, one opponent at a time. If you’re around our players and coaches this week, you’ll see that all of the focus is on Montana State, not what could happen a week from now or two weeks from now. In a playoff setup, if you look beyond the next task at hand, you could be done.
Another thing that our players, coaches and I enjoy about the playoffs is getting to play teams from different parts of the country. To me, playing a team from a different region and a well-respected league like the Big Sky makes it feel like it’s a really big game. Before we started watching film this week, the only way that we were familiar with Montana State was through the great reputations of their state, their program and their league. We have a lot of respect for Montana State and are anxious to go out and see how we match up.
The key to this week, as in any week, is preparation. Our coaches and players are preparing the same way for Montana State that we did for NC State back in August. Our goal is to stick to our routine. If you saw practice last night, it wasn’t much different than any other Tuesday practice from throughout the season. We do that purposefully. We don’t make practice any harder or easier as the season goes on.
We had a great practice last night, and that is a tribute to how well our coaches coach and our players focus. It’s very important to practice well every time we hit the field and our coaches and players have done a great job of making sure we are prepared and focused to do that.
Our players are excited about another game in front of the great fans here at Kidd Brewer Stadium. We’ve won 25-straight games home games, dating all the way back to the 2002 playoffs. We don’t have one player in our locker room that has been on the field for a loss at The Rock. On top of everything else involved with postseason football, that’s great motivation, especially for our seniors, who are so close to potentially going through their entire careers without losing a home game. That’s a special deal.
Our following here in the High Country has been great during my entire 18 years here at Appalachian, but over the course of the past two years, it has stepped up even more and become one of the best places in the country to watch and play a college football game.
A year ago, when we played Southern Illinois here in the quarterfinals, I walked off the field with their quarterback, Joel Sambursky, following the game. One thing that he said to me will always stick out in my mind. He said, “Coach, this is a (heck) of a place to play!” That is a compliment to our fans, our students, our band and everyone that works so hard to make Kidd Brewer Stadium such a terrific place for college football.
We had a great crowd last week — our largest ever for a postseason game, which is even more impressive due to the fact that our students were on Thanksgiving break. We are very fortunate to have the faithful fans and students that we have here at ASU. They are a big part of our success.
This Saturday, hopefully another big crowd will be on hand at The Rock. All that I can guarantee is that everyone that does turn out or watches across the nation on ESPN2 should be treated to a great college football game between two terrific programs and schools.