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Oct. 16, 2007
Some of your players look at your game at Indiana in 2004 as a turning point for the program. Do you agree with that assessment? What do you remember about that game?
I remember we won it. We made that goal line stand. I don't know. You can always kind of...everybody wants to be smart. At this point, this happened. At this point, this happened. It certainly was a big win for us. Some of us who were closer to the situation knew we were on the verge of being a pretty good football team. I think maybe that helped them to believe.
But what do I remember about it? Outside of the goal line stand, not much.
How big a loss is Jerome Hayes to your defensive front?
I think it's a big loss. Jerome Hayes was really playing very, very well. You know, it was when he got hurt, I knew he had gotten hurt. I was watching the play when he went down. I just thought maybe, hey, he got the wind knocked out of him, something like that. But when you get an accident or injury as bad as where his is, where you've got to have an operation, it just didn't look that way.
In any case, we're going to miss him. He was starting to get good. He was starting to get really good. We'll have to adjust.
Your offense had pretty much a breakout game (vs. Wisconsin). Everybody seemed to be happy with the way you played on Saturday. Can you talk about the progress of your offense and is it playing as well as it has all season?
I thought we played well against Iowa. I think we've done pretty good offensively except for the fact we've turned the ball over against a couple of pretty good football teams on the road in tough situations. So I think we've been if you look at the stats, those kinds of things, I'm not sure how you evaluate offenses, obviously how many points you get, but the two games we don't have really impressive statistics were against two teams that played really good defense and protected the ball and we never had field position. You know, we lost a couple of scoring chances.
I think we've been pretty good offensively all year. You know, I've been here defending Morelli and defending other parts of our offense almost week in and week out because I felt we did a pretty good job.
I don't know about terms like "breakout." When I was in Brooklyn, "breakout" meant a lot of different things besides what you're talking about (laughter).
Can you say if Phil Taylor and Chris Bell will be playing this weekend?
Depends on how well they practice.
Bill Lynch is someone who had to step in as head coach at Indiana under difficult circumstances. Do you know him very well and do you have a feel for how he's handled that situation?
In fact, I talked to the staff a little bit this morning because Brian (Norwood) has worked with him and Ron (Vanderlinden) knows him, other people, just to try to get a little bit of a feel for him. He was at the Big Ten coaches meeting last year. He's a very pleasant man. His participation in the Big Ten (meeting) was very, very positive. Obviously, he's a very intelligent guy. He's done a great job with his Indiana team.
People don't realize, Indiana is in the same situation we are. They're 5 2, 2 2 in the Big Ten. We're 5 2, 2 2 in the Big Ten. This is a very, very crucial game for us. I think it is for Indiana, as well.
I think he's done a good job. It can't be easy to succeed somebody that everybody liked. Most of the people I know liked Terry (Hoeppner). And I don't know Bill well; I really don't. Some of the coaches in the league I've been around a lot, whether it's on a social basis, or we've played against each other. But his team plays well. He's doing a good job, and it's a good football team. He's had a good track record. He's been at a couple places like Ball State and a couple other places where he's done a good job.
I was not aware of that until we talked this morning, when I talked to the staff about how much we know about the coach at Indiana. Almost everybody who had any association with him said he's a heck of a guy. He's bright, he's a good coach. I think that shows in the way his football team has played.
Andrew Quarless -- it seemed like he didn't play much after that third down drop. What is his playing status as far as you're concerned right now and also John Shaw? I know he's listed as second team. Is that because he's not recovered or because he's not playing up to par at this point?
Let me go with Shaw first. Shaw got hurt (knee) and fell behind. John Shaw is one of those kids that has got to practice. Physically he's really good, but he really has to be exposed to a lot of different situations. He's (number) two now. Whether he stays two depends on how practice goes.
Quarless has just got to be a little bit more committed to practicing well, understanding that everything that happens is important. I wasn't angry with Quarless dropping the pass. The play before that he blew a block. I had turned to Bill (Kenney), who was on the side, said, "Bill, you tell that Quarless if he doesn't start blocking better, I'm not going to play him." Then he dropped the pass. "Heck with it, get him out of there."
(Mickey) Shuler has been practicing really well. Quarless doesn't have that job locked up. Nobody has a job locked up. Shuler is a pretty good football player and Quarless better realize that. But he's a good kid. We practiced yesterday. First thing I said this morning, I went down and said, "How is so and so doing?" When I brought up Quarless, he said he did a real good job yesterday, so we'll see.
Bonnie Bernstein reported on ABC's telecast that you told her that Austin Scott was off the team. He's no longer on the depth chart. I'm wondering what his status is as of right now.
You want to talking anybody that is playing or what? I'm not going to talk about...Austin's got to work some things out.
As well as your team has played the last couple weeks, do you think you still need to take it on the road and win there before you can come to any conclusions about how good this football team really is?
I take exception sometimes to so some of the conclusions you make. I think we've played all year. We've played well. We've put the ball on the ground a couple of times in key situations and we had a tough situation at Michigan with the officiating. I think overall we've played good; we've been solid. The teams that beat us, the two teams which beat us, both played great games. Michigan had one penalty, no turnovers. Illinois played a superb game and got a big play on the kicking game. I think we've played well all year.
Now, whether we've played great, whether we played well enough to win, no, we didn't, because we made the mistakes I was worried we would make. We put the ball on the ground in key situations. So I'm pleased with my football team. We're not a great team. We've got a ways to go. But we're getting there.
With the way Indiana can spread the ball around, the speed they have at receiver, do you think it's going to be the biggest challenge of the year for the secondary?
We've played against a lot of good people. I think Indiana does a lot of things very well. I think you got to start with their quarterback (Kellen Lewis), who is a very gifted athlete. They got that great big wideout (James Hardy). So, yeah, I think it's going to be a challenge, but I think every game is a challenge for us. I probably didn't answer the previous question well enough. Yes, I am concerned that we can go away and play and not put the ball on the ground and we can be poised and we can handle any kind of adversity, including crowds and things like that. So in that sense, yeah.
Indiana's got a lot of things going for them. They only had the ball 30-something times against Michigan State and averaged 5.6, 5.7 yards a try. So when they get their hands on the ball, they're great. Michigan State did a terrific job of hanging onto the ball. I think Michigan State had 90 plays. They didn't give Indiana a chance to do some big things.
So it's going to be a challenge, obviously, but that's what the game is all about.
This game coming up with Indiana, although you stress the records are the same, in terms of general appeal among the public, it's what people call a switch game. You had the Wisconsin game, you have a game coming up with Ohio State. How do you address that with your players? It's human nature not to be able to take everything equally. How do you address that?
You know, you make assumptions that it's human nature, all right? I mean, I'm not quite sure. You've already made the assumption. We're playing Indiana. Indiana's going to be a tough football game for us. I think we addressed that earlier. I think Indiana can beat us like that, all right? And we have got to go on the road. We've got to play well. We've got to protect the football. We've got to get a little better than we've been. Hopefully that's good enough to win.
Between you and me, a week ago when one of the coaches said to me, "Well, we've got Indiana, then Purdue, those two Indiana schools back to back," I didn't know Ohio State was the next week. You may think that's a lot horse manure, but that's true. I go one week at a time. I can't worry about the next week.
When you take a team on the road, do you try to keep the Friday and Saturday routine as close to the home routine as possible?
Well, you've got to get on a bus, get on a plane. You've got to check in, get screened like everybody else does these days. Our kids don't just get on the plane. They've got to go through screening, the whole bit. Road games are tougher now than they used to be only because of the distractions and things you have to do.
We don't do anything much different with practice. When it comes to Friday, it's a whole different situation obviously. When we're home on a Friday, we can horse around a little bit more, clown around a little bit. But when we've got to get on a bus, as I said, go over to the airport, get on a plane and go, and then when we get there, try to get everybody just settled down because usually there are fans all over the place.
I think playing on the road is tough, both sides, when we play there and when they play here. But when you've got a good, mature football team with good leadership, it shouldn't bother you that much.
Going into the season, you had three starters not returning from last season (on the offensive line). John Shaw has been hurt most of this year. You flip flopped the guards. You even brought in two junior college kids because of offensive line questions. Has the play of the offensive line been one of the more pleasant surprises?
I'd say our offensive line the last couple games I'd say even more than that. Most years they've been pretty good, because we lost some kids physically that were hurt. We lost a kid I thought was going to be a really good player, Elijah Robinson, who we had kind of penciled in as a first stringer. He's a big kid, about 300 pounds. I think they're doing well. I think Dick Anderson and Bill Kenny have done a really good job with that as they have been exposed to certain things. We didn't do a great job pass protection. In a couple earlier games, everybody was all over (Anthony) Morelli's back. We made some adjustments, and some of the kids started to anticipate certain things, which happens when you get some experience.
So I think that's a long answer to a question that I think they're getting better all the time. Hopefully we can hold up.
You've spoken a lot about Anthony Morelli and backed him. How important do you think it was for him to have the kind of performance like he did Saturday?
Well, I'll just go back to what I said. I think Morelli's been pretty darn good for two years. It isn't all of a sudden he's playing good. You look at the games we've lost with him at quarterback; they've all been pretty good, tough football games, and the ones we've won with him. I think Morelli is a good quarterback.
There are times we haven't done bouncing off the offensive line, at times we haven't done a particularly good job with the pass protection because of some stunts that our kids were not able to pick up, and we were behind and we had to force the ball, as we did against Ohio State a year ago out there, the two interceptions, when we had to make something happen.
But I think overall he's been pretty darn good. So it's not just a question of sticking up for him. It's just trying to be fair about what kind of a player he is. And I think he's a good football player. I think as the running backs, last year we had (Tony) Hunt and Hunt carried us a little bit. Now the two kids (Rodney Kinlaw and Evan Royster) that are playing, (they) start to get a little bit better, they pick up the pass protection, they don't make mistakes on pass protection, all those kinds of things. It's been a little easier for Morelli to pick the guy he wants to throw the ball to as he reads the coverage.
So I think Morelli's been good. I have a tough time agreeing with people that are critical of him.
Your defense has allowed 12 touchdowns the last 13 games. Can you contrast how Tom Bradley has coached the defense going back to some things that maybe he got from Jerry (Sandusky) and what you put into it?
Well, I don't think it's fair for me to compare Tom with Jerry. I think Tom's just a good football coach. He's got his own....we do things differently than Jerry may have done them. I don't want to take anything away from the great contribution Jerry made. But I think Tom's his own man and he's done a good job. He's really done a very, very good job. Sometimes I agree with him, sometimes I don't. Sometimes some of you may have seen me on the sideline every once in a while telling him "this is what I want done, I don't want done." We argue once in a while. That should be. That's the only way you can have a good staff.
I keep going back to the coaching staff I have. I said that a couple years ago. "If I can keep all these guys, I'll end up being a pretty good coach." I think Tommy is one of our better coaches.
Talk a little bit about Terrell Golden, what qualities about him make him a good captain, and also his contributions on the field this year?
Terrell Golden is one of those guys that I've always had a great deal of empathy for. He's paid his dues. He's a kid that's never really had a lot of opportunities, and now he's having that opportunity. And we've done some things with our offense that are adaptable to him. He's been great, he really has been great. Both he and Kinlaw, both fifth year guys that nobody knew who they were, they could have gotten discouraged, they could have packed it in and the whole bit. Both of them have worked hard to wait for their chance, and now they're taking advantage of it.
And Golden right now is a good leader, good football player. People don't realize how many plays he plays. He's on kicking teams. He does a heck of a job on the kicking teams as well as going out there and catching the football and blocking. You don't realize how many times...he's like a tight end half the time. Golden is a heck of a football player right now, and so is Kinlaw. Kinlaw has really gotten to be a good football player. He was a good football player. He just never got a chance.
How difficult is it to prepare for a kid like the Indiana quarterback who is so fast and athletic?
It's tough. He's a darn good football player. He ran that first touchdown against Michigan State; I think he went about 55 yards on it. Michigan State's got some athletes, and they couldn't catch him. No, I think he's a really good athlete. He's very careful with the football. I don't know, 12 for 13, 12 for 19 last week against Michigan State, the whole bit.
But, having said that, he's got that great big wideout. He looks like he's about 8-foot-10 sometimes. He reaches up and grabs balls over the heads of corners, and we're scared to death of him. We're scared to death of the option play. I mean, we've got problems. They're good. And I think the quarterback is obviously their leader. I think he's only a sophomore, too, isn't he? They're going to be tough for a while.
Can you talk about the progress of the defensive line and do you see someone filling the role that Hayes did on defense?
Hayes is going to be tough to replace because we don't have anybody...we've got so many young guys. We've got to stick a guy in there that hasn't played much. You know, we went with (Aaron) Maybin some to give Hayes a rest at times in previous games because Hayes is on kicking teams. Hayes was in an awful lot of plays. And Maybin is learning, but he just doesn't have quite the feel for things that a kid like Hayes has. He's got the same kind of athletic ability and he's going to be a really good player. So that's going to be a problem for us. (Jared) Odrick has got a couple broken bones in his hand. Certain things he's going to be limited in being able to do. So that's a little problem for us. Thank God we got (Abe) Koroma back.
I think we're okay. But if you're asking me specifically whether we can replace Hayes, I'm not sure about that.
I was wondering how the off the field issues have affected you personally and how have you addressed them with the team?
I'm not going to get into that....Do I look all right? I picked out the best tie I've got, for crying out loud. Every color in the Big Ten is in here (laughter).
No, I'm not...we're fine. We're fine.
You've always made it plain the patience you have with kids that make mental mistakes as opposed to physical mistakes. Last year Rich Ohrnberger got flagged a lot in the red zone. You still had a lot of patience with him. He seems to have cut that down.
He was doing great until yesterday. We were practicing field goals. He moved before the center snapped the ball. I pulled him out and said, "How dumb can a dumb Dutchman be? When are you going to learn?" (laughter)
But, no, he's a good competitor, a good kid. Most of the mistakes he makes, it's because he's so intense. He drives you nuts sometimes. But, I like him. Rich is a good kid. I'm married to one of them Dutchmen, so I learned how to put up with them. He's a good football player. He's played against some awfully good people and we've moved him around. I want to make sure I give Rich his due. We've moved him right and left because we've tried to get him against the best guy we have to play against in the middle there. So he's not blocked anybody easy, he really hasn't. He's had a couple of tough games, and he's in there every play.
I think Rich, I may end up giving him a hug one of these days....about the year 2050.
Indiana leads the nation in sacks. What kind of problems does their front seven cause for an offensive line?
They have two guys who are awfully quick up front. They do an awful good job. Obviously, that's a problem for us. We've got to figure out the best way to handle it. Sometimes if you overreact to the pass rush, you have people that are not in pass patterns in order to keep another guy in, that kind of stuff. It's a give and take kind of thing.
To be very frank with you, we've only had one day of practice. I hate this press conference on Tuesday. I've got to go home and look at some more tapes. But I do know I looked at some Sunday night and yesterday. There's a couple of kids there, and they've got one or two blitzes that really give you problems. In fact, one of them I have not seen anybody else use before. We've got to handle that. But they've got a couple of kids in there that are really good players. They've got a linebacker that's a heck of a player. But we'll see.
Chris Colasanti played some on special teams on Saturday. Was it a tough decision to decide to play him?
Well, we've got to play him. When (Navorro) Bowman wasn't able to play, when he got hurt, we had to look around and get another guy. And we had Josh Hull, who is a walk on kid from down the road, who is going to be a really good player. We had him learning both outside (linebacker) positions. (Dan) Connor and (Sean) Lee play a lot of football. They play a lot of plays. They're on kicking teams. So I've been concerned about giving them a blow in practice, that kind of thing.
I said if anybody's got a better suggestion... I think Ron (Vanderlinden) said, "I think Colasanti is ready to play." So I said, "Well, let's go." Colasanti, he's practicing and will play.
I think he did well. Carter's a good football player. Originally he was a running back. I thought that he might not get to play much at running back. I said, "Let's take a look at him in the secondary because he can be a good safety, as well." He's a good athlete. And when we needed a running back, we had to make up our minds whether we were going to stick him in or we were going to stick the young kid in, Green, and Joey Suhey, who is also a good prospect from Chicago, Matt's kid. Carter wasn't playing that much on defense, so we stuck him in there. The young (indiscernible) kid is a good backup. So that kind of made sense. So that's why we put Carter in. And I think he did all right.
What kind of things has Maurice Evans done to become so effective? What kind of potential do you see him having as he progresses?
I think Maurice Evans, being from Brooklyn, he's smart, he's disciplined, he can handle smart asses (laughter).
I think he's going to be a pretty good player. No, he's a good kid, he really is. He's a good athlete. I like him. I don't like him because he's from Brooklyn; I like him because he plays, he practices hard, he's bright.
We really have a lot of good young players. We really have a lot of good young players, and he's one of them.