Posted by: Sports
Weekly Press Conference
Memorial Stadium (Lincoln, Neb.)
Monday, Nov. 17, 2012
On how he prepares his players for the game against Iowa since they aren't bowl eligible
"Well, I think our players have a pretty good understanding what we have at stake. It's not about Iowa, it's about us. We have a lot of respect for their program, obviously what Coach (Kirk) Ferentz and his staff have done over a lot of years and they are going to play hard, there is a tremendous amount of pride and tradition in that program and it's their senior day. There is a lot of things that are going into it for them so all that being said, we have to be ready to play our best football and be ready to play. You know going on the road is always a challenge."
On how much improvement the defense has made since the Ohio State game
"I think we have gotten better, but I can say this, our offense is, you know, I think we have gotten better defensively, but I can't say enough (about) what Coach (Tim) Beck and the offensive staff have done offensively. I think he has done a phenomenal job. They make adjustments every week, they practice and have gotten better every single week and I think they are playing at a very high level and I think defensively we had some, obviously, we had a couple games early on that didn't go well and I think we have gotten steadily better as the season has gone on. That's what you try to do and we have stayed the course. We didn't panic and I think our kids have gotten better. I think offensively we have played at a high level all year and I think right now we are kind of hitting stride and playing pretty good in all phases of the game and that's got to continue."
On how closely he watches the offensive line play for his team
"Well, obviously I watch the film all the time and I think we are playing pretty well on the offensive line. There's always things that you always want get better at, but I think we have improved as the season as gone on. I think you can say that in general about our football team, I think it comes back to the work ethic and the type of preparation they bring to the table each and every day and that lends to you getting better and that's what you hope. I said earlier in the year it's not where you start It's where you finish and you got to stay the course and keep working to get better each and every day and to a large extent, I think we have done that."
On how difficult it is to put in the second string when you hold the other team to zero points
"I'm not about statistics and all the things that go along with that. At the end of the day when that first group walked off the field we had shut them out and there are a lot more important things then keeping a zero on the scoreboard and that's getting young men in the game who deserve to be on the football field. And let me tell you, we put some guys in some tough situations. We had some guys in there working some spots that didn't get a snap in during the week and maybe hadn't practiced there in a while and I knew that going in and I was hoping we were in that situation so we could do that."
When he saw that Kenny Bell could be a really good player as he has shown this year
"You know really early on, I think where it starts with Kenny is his work ethic. I mean, this guy practices hard every day and het gets it. He gets how to prepare and he has really competed on the practice field and in his preparation and how he approaches his workouts. And I think Kenny would be the first one to tell you he has really matured a lot since he's been here too. He always had tremendous work ethic, but you know the maturity and leadership he has developed over the last couple years and how he has changed. He doesn't really have to change his approach on the field and he has never been a problem off the field. He's a good kid, but it's how you approach everything day-to-day and the type of focus that you bring and the level of maturity that he does everything with. He really has become a leader not only because he is a guy that's not afraid to open his mouth and speak up, but kind of the daily approach in every area of his life right now and it's showing. I think he is a tremendous young man and a guy who I think obviously there is a lot more out there for him and he can go a long way in this game."
On if he was the one who was impressed with Kenny with the offseason workout program
"Yeah, but you know I think to a man, Kenny being one of them but a lot of them. Our guys learned a lot going through that experience. From what happened to them and what they observed through the whole thing. In our program that's what that program is about, is about teaching lessons and I think it was something our football team really grew from. No one wants to go through what they went through for that couple days, that's not fun. So they were a little skeptical going into that, but I think coming out of it they drew appreciation for what they learned and what they went through that 24 hours."
If he started with a range of the nickel and dime stuff with teams
"Zero, I guess I'm joking to a certain extent, but we want to challenge every route and we have pretty high expectations and we work really hard at how we play pass defense and it's a big part of how we play and what our philosophy is defensively. Like I said, it is a little bit of the style we play and what our approach is defensively. "
If he saw the low percentage coming (opponents completion percentage)
"Yeah, I think I said way back in the spring that I really liked where the secondary was developing and growing. I thought we had to pieces and the potential, you know, we all know what potential is. You have to maximize it and you actually got to put it on the field. We still got to keep growing, you know, we aren't a finished product yet, but I think we have made a lot of strides."
On how his team has handled the pressure of playing good and winning out
"You know, I think it's been a really business-like approach. We understand that, they haven't gotten too high. It was interesting that our reaction to the game the other day, as emotional as that game was for the seniors and your last home game and finishing off the home slate and taking care of business at home. Our guys obviously were excited they won the game, but it was just like, ok on to the next game. It was a very business-like reaction to the game and knowing the challenge we have coming up on Friday. It's going to be a heck of a challenge going into Iowa City."
On how good this offense is and there might not be an all-conference player on it
"The whole all-conference and how they pick those things, I know one thing I don't know how it will come out, but we have some all-conference players on that offense and I guess we will see how it plays out. As a group, I'd take that group over anybody we have played against or will play against."
If he would have to make a case about Taylor Martinez being on the all-conference team what he would say
"Like I said, I'm glad he is our quarterback. He's had a heck of a year and he is still growing, he's not perfect but no one who plays this game never really is. He has played at an extremely high level and I think he has gotten better as the season has gone on and we are going to need that to continue."
On defensive line coach Rick Kaczenski and what he has brought to the table with new ideas
"He is meticulous in what he does and he does a heck of a job coaching his guys and he is hard on them, he is demanding, you know I think he has been a heck of an addition to our staff. He has done a great job and I did a lot of homework on him before we hired him. I knew what I was getting and we've gotten that and more."
What stuck out to him about Kaczenski
"In my opinion the coach's resume is on the film and I like the way he coached and the way his guys played and the technique they play with and the attention to detail. They had obviously been coached with."
Anything specific that Taylor (Martinez) has done that jumps out to him with improvement
"I think every area, his decision making, his command, getting us in and out of plays, how he has handled the offense and how he is taking control out there. I don't think we would be in the position if he wasn't playing at such a high level and he brought us back in a couple of games and the composure he has played with, you name it, he's has played at a very high level in a lot of areas."
What he saw in Taylor (Martinez) during the offseason that made him have that much confidence in him for this year
"Well I go off about what I said, No. 1, I always say that when someone puts the extra work in and when he does things on his own and he is committed to it. In my experience, you see that guy reap the benefits of that and he did, that he put a lot of time in during the offseason, and I saw him progress. I thought he had a really good spring. I saw what went on in camp. Like I said, no one that has played that position or played this sport has ever been perfect, but he has played at a very high level and that's because he has prepared that way and he has shown that in practice. The way I believe the way you play in practice is usually what you're going to get on Saturday. "
If he sees any resemblance to the 2009 team to this team by this team making a run towards a Big Ten Championship
"Uh, it was so long ago, in my world it was like 30 years ago. I think it starts with having high character guys and a commitment to getting better each day and having the mental discipline, the fortitude, the things that bring it to the practice field each day. I know you guys might get sick of me talking about it, it's not easy to go out there each and every day as the season gets long and hard and aches and pains and your sore and all those different things that come along with being a football player this time of year that it takes a certain mental toughness and a certain focus to bring it to the practice field every day."
On the seniors and how they wanted this year to be different and they had to take it to another level to get there
"Absolutely, we talked about it starting last January and it's not easy. Just look out there and there is a lot of parity in college football every week. You're going to get challenged. I know there are certain media outlets and fans and whoever else are going to sit there and try to put this team on a pedestal and say this team is better than these teams. I was hardened a little bit my first nine years in coaching when I started in the NFL. You develop a respect for the game and you develop a understanding and especially in this day and age of college football that you can get humbled in a heartbeat and the reality is you can get beat almost every week, especially if you play in a conference like (the Big Ten) this and you go through the schedule we have gone through up to this point. Trust me when I tell you, our players understand that and we need to understand that going into Iowa City because you get into situations like this against a football team like Iowa at home and you can get humbled in a heartbeat if you don't bring your ‘A' game and you don't come ready to play and you don't prepare with the realization that you better have respect for the game because you're going to get what you earn."
Biggest challenge with a short week before playing Iowa
"It's attention to detail, just like Iowa, we have one less day to prepare. It's going to take a little bit more film time, it's going to take a little extra effort on everybody's part- coaches, players, and get ready to play and make sure you are and ready for any situation that may come up. Obviously, I feel pretty good about where we are health wise going into the game and we have to do our part to make sure we don't wear our guys down when we are playing on a short week."
What are the chances of (Rex) Burkhead playing this Friday
"I would say it's 50-50."
On his take hearing that the Big Ten will expand with more teams
"I guess I was a little surprised, but I haven't really thought much about it. To me, when I hear the two schools that are being talked about I understand why. Obviously I assume it has to do with the east coast and the New York market. Whoever they put on our schedule we will play. Those decisions are made way over my head."
Potential for more recruiting because of these two teams now
"We hit those areas, obviously we got one guy to commit out of those areas we have signed a couple kids out of the (Washington) DC, Virginia market and Maryland. We have a very active presence in (New) Jersey and in that area. Will that change how we approach it? We've had some very different recruiting areas and different changes that we have had to go through. It's kind of like everything else, you kind of wait and see and try and figure it out and make the decisions that feel will be best for the program in the long term. Like I said, this program has gone with the changes of a conference and everything we have gone through seems like it has been one change after another and I think what we have done well is we have kept a solid base in certain areas. We dive into some other areas and see what kind of reception we get and kind of play it by ear as we go along."
On the play of linebacker Will Compton
"I think he has played well all year, he really has. Like everybody else on the defensive side we have gotten better. I think that we have a lot of contributors at linebacker position. Will has been the center of it, but Sean Fisher has played really well. He didn't get as much playing time early in the year because we were playing a lot of different types of offenses but he has played at a very high level. I think Whaley (Alonzo) has gotten better, (David) Santos has played good football for us, Coop (Corey Cooper), (Justin) Blatchford, you know in our dime packages and some of our nickel packages so we have had a lot of guys contribute and a lot of guys playing time and I think to a man, it's a group that has gotten better."
On what happened and how they gotten better
"We play a lot of types of offenses and a lot of different things. I think Coach (Ross) Els and TJ (T.J. Hollowell), the guys that work with those guys, kind of look and see we have put those guys in certain niches and those niches have changed according to the opponent. We have put them in certain packages and I think part of coaching is taking guys and saying ‘ok what do you well' and try to play to their strengths. I think to a certain extent, we have been able to do that according to the challenges we have faced week-to-week and I think they have all gotten better. We have a lot of guys that have gotten playing time and have been able to make those significant contributions."
On if Sean Fisher will come back for another year
"I think with Fish (Sean Fisher) it all depends on what happens with med school. Obviously with a guy, I think he has some mixed emotions about it right now. It all depends on where he gets in, where he applies and that's all up in the air. He's got a lot of bigger things ahead of him in my opinion then just football right now and he's got life decisions he is going to have to make. He is applying to some big time med programs and as far as going to med school there are some decisions that are going to have to be made and we will sit down and talk about it. What I care about most is he gets what he wants, because he is going to have tremendous success down the road in his career, that much I have no doubt."
On Imani Cross's work ethic and is that a reason why he recruited him
"Imani is tremendous, I know you guys have probably got to know him. I'm sure you've interviewed him, he is a tremendous young man and somebody who has a great work ethic. He's tough, he's a team guy, he's unselfish, he's got all the qualities and characteristics you want in a football player and you put that together with the size and strength he brings to the table. I think he hasn't even scratched the surface of what he is going to be down the line of his career. I think he is going to be a tremendous and significant contributor for the next three years after this year."
On when he gives the players like (Justin) Blatchford and (Corey) Cooper their roles for the upcoming week
"There is some fluidity to who does it during the game or who we start or whatever. A lot of that is determined, we will give multiple guys reps and kind of see who we feel was or had most success starting out the football game. Who we actually start at those positions depends on a lot of different factors as far as personnel and matchups that come into play."