this week in unintentionally grim-sounding recruiting headlines
Frank Clark, Jake Ryan, Dennis Norfleet
Could you guys talk about the receivers as a group beyond Devin Funchess and what you guys feel like you can give to this team?
Dennis Norfleet: “We’ve become one. Everybody expects everything from one another. We do things as a group so when one makes a play we all make a play. That’s how coach Heck[linski]’s got us and that’s how we’re going to remain throughout the year.”
Dennis, what’s your perception on how people perceive you? Is it as a big play guy, someone who can score at a moment’s notice or are you much more than an explosive player? What else can you bring to the table other than that lightning quickness?
DN: “My role on the team…I know that I’m a guy that can bring spark and that makes everybody happy so I’m just being the teammate that can get everybody going [and] to bring fire. That’s what I do. So if I can continue on doing that to get everybody to be happy and to let them know that the game can go our way at any time then that’s what I can do.”
Frank or Jake, you guys seemed to find more success stopping the run as opposed to getting to the pass. Is that just something that Golson might have been doing differently or that you guys were more prepared for with the run?
Jake Ryan: “That’s just something that we’ve got to work on, the pass game, more. Creating havoc for the quarterback. The run game we played pretty well but we’ve also got to focus on the pass game. Getting more blitzes in and getting more guys to the quarterback is really going to create a different atmosphere for him and create havoc for him.”
[More after THE JUMP]
“Well, let’s get right to it. Obviously disappointed that we didn’t win the football game and disappointed that we didn’t do a couple of things better on defense and we’ve got to work about correcting those right now. Our players came in with a great attitude and we as coaches I think have a great attitude and that’s one bump in the road that we have to get over and go to the next one.”
I’m sure there are a few things on your list but is not forcing turnovers to this point pretty high up there?
“Yeah. The thing about that football game, and I felt it on the sidelines- I don’t know if ever you played against a good opponent where you held them to fifty-some yards rushing, and usually those stats can be misled, but not when a team rushes thirty times or twenty-some times for fifty yards. That part of it you said, ‘Hey, we’re fine here.’ The thing that we didn’t do that we have to is the same thing we didn’t do in the first game: we’ve got to play better red zone defense. That’s really hurt us. We have to, when we get down in the red zone, and all it takes when you get down in the red zone is one bad play and that’s gotten us. I think in the red zone we went to third down one time, they scored. Next time it was fourth down. That makes a whole difference in a ball game.
“The other thing is we’ve got to get turnovers. That’s hurting our team and that was a big emphasis for us. And I think the other thing that we didn’t live up to what I expected us to was third downs. The stats, they’re misleading again. What were they? Eight- or seven-for-fifteen? They hit some really crucial third downs in the first half and, you know, third down is third down. You get it, you get it. And there’s a couple [where] the guy’s feet…just perfect throw, perfect catch. But that doesn’t matter. You have to stop them on third down to be a great defense. Those are three places that we have to get better and for us as a team our defense needs to do that and we didn’t.”
How much, if any, concern about pass rush is neutered by the fact that they were getting the ball out so quickly?
“Yeah, I thought our pass rush- watching the tape we had some guys that were doing some pretty darn good things and the ball was coming out really quick which is, again, I’ll say that that’s concerning because that’s like last year. I felt we’d have a little tighter coverage to be able to stop that when the pressure got close and he threw some in there. Again, we’ve got to keep working on it. I thought our pass rush, I thought our guys came after him pretty good and worked really hard up front to try and get to him. We didn’t get sacks. We didn’t get as many sacks. That quarterback probably played the best game of his life. He played good. He’s a good player, you know. I give that to him and that’s one of the reasons for the outcome was.”
[After THE JUMP: Greg Mattison explains what he should have done differently and why he thinks the defense doesn’t need a wake-up call]
Can you talk about some of the positives you took away after watching the film?
“Well, you know, I think when you look at the football game and you say, ‘Okay, what were the things that we can take out of this game?’ I thought we were prepare to play. I talked to our guys about [how] the preparation was right. We were prepared. You look at the first drive, we move the ball down the field the first two drives and unfortunately were unable to convert but the preparation was right. We’ve talked a lot about what we’re doing to prepare for games and right now we’ve just got to play smarter, we’ve got to play more disciplined and we’ve got to execute better.”
What does this offense need to do to regain the consistency and solidity it had against Appalachian State and what did Notre Dame do to break down what you built up in the season opener?
“Well, I wouldn’t say that anything got broke down. The same thing I talked about a week ago; we’re still in the infancy stages. We’re still learning to play consistently and I’ll continue to hit on that because, like I said before, we play well in stretches and it showed in that game. You could see where we’d get movement, we’d create things, we’d move the ball and then we’d lack that consistency and that’s going to be a growth process and it’s something that we work every day in practice on and we continue to talk about it’s about eleven guys on every play doing the right thing. You just can’t play, when you play a quality opponent like Notre Dame- if it’s ten guys doing the right thing and one guy doing the wrong thing you’re doomed so we’ve got to get eleven guys on every play doing the right thing.”
Can you talk about what you’ve seen out of Devin Funchess in the first couple of games, but beyond that the production you’re expecting from those other guys when Devin gets the attention that he inevitably will.
“Sure. Devin’s done an outstanding job. I talked about that before. We moved him around and his ability to process the information, to move into the slot, to move back out by himself, then to have the tight end with him, that’s a lot of information. People don’t realize how difficult that is and that should tell you a little bit about his mental makeup and the other side of Devin Funchess, not just the athletic side that you see. He’s done an outstanding job with that.
“That being said, you could see in the game that there are other guys on this team that can make plays. Dennis Norfleet did a nice job for us, made some plays for us. Amara Darboh, Jehu Chesson. We’re still looking at some young guys to stand up and develop. Freddy Canteen, we’re trying to get Freddy going a little bit so we’re trying to not only let Devin do what Devin does but also develop that corps around him.”
[After THE JUMP: generating explosive plays, evaluating the offense’s progress, and a bunch of Devin Gardner questions]
News bullets and other items:
- Hoke will tell us if someone is out for the year. That’s about all you can expect as far as injury updates go.
- Graham Glasgow is taking snaps at center and right guard.
- Hoke thought the team prepared well last week.
- He emphasized red zone defense and finishing drives as the two areas that most need to improve.
- Matt Wile and Kenny Allen will compete for kicking duties.
“Thanks for coming. You know, as far as where we’re at as a team, we went back to work yesterday and the attitude and how our guys have stayed together, the leadership throughout the team has been awfully positive. I like the work ethic and I still like the work ethic from a physical and mental standpoint. You always evaluate where you're at and what you need to do and what could you have done differently and we've done that. We've talked about it from coaching staff-wise, from player-wise. Preparation was awesome throughout the week. It was as good as I've been around. Preparation in Michigan City at the hotel was awesome. Feel very good about our football team in a lot of ways. We've got to prepare. We got to execute a little better but as far as where this team's at I'm excited. We understand that our goals are still out there and now we've got to turn to Miami and be back at home with our students and the Michigan fans and go back to work."
How does the defensive approach have to change when you lose some key people like out of the secondary? I think you talked about when you can press man and when you had to back off of that.
“Well, I do think you've got to know your personnel. Number one, you want to make sure you put your personnel in positions so that they can be successful. In the second half we played more zone and from a defensive standpoint there were some things that we need to be tighter on. Some technique issues that we've got to clean up. Sometimes that happens when guys gets in certain environments where your fundamentals and techniques are everything. I thought we lost that and some of that is the environment that you're in. You either speed up – and I think we did that a little bit because of that or you just lose your fundamentals and techniques. So to answer your question yeah, you look at it and you change it a little bit."
Talk about having Jake Butt back and what his ceiling is. You look at his tools and where his ceiling is; where might he go?
"Well, you know, Jake was kind of a gametime decision in some ways and didn't play a lot of snaps but we'll see how he progresses. I think we’re going to be very cognizant of where he is from a physical standpoint and what's too much. We do the same thing in practice, what's too much and what's not. The technology today with some of the GPS things we’re into teaches a lot and you learn a lot. Health and wellness issues are part of that and talking about Jake is making sure we are doing the right things with him."
Talk about his…
"Well, we think he’s a very good football player. He ended up last year very well. I think he's learned a lot and he's one of those guys who is on the leadership council that isn't afraid to, even though he's a young guy, speak his mind and give his true reactions and feelings."
Talk about some of the positives and the improvement in the run defense.
"Well, the front seven I thought he did a pretty good job from that standpoint. Guys that we rotated throughout in the middle of the defense, I think they were aggressive. I thought they were gaps sound. I think Willie [Henry] may have had the most production of all of them but he and Ryan [Glasgow] as a group in there, I thought they did a nice job. That was a physical offensive line and so we got to take from what they did last week into this week and improve upon that."
Devin Funchess- we saw him leave the game and come back in. How’s he doing?
"He's fine. I'm not going to talk about any injuries but he's fine."
Did he workout and everything yesterday?
"He was in the building yesterday, yeah."
[After THE JUMP: pointed words about a lack of faith in the Big Ten, Hoke’s message for Michigan fans, and more player-specific non-injury-related questions]
[Note: I wasn’t in South Bend, so this was all transcribed from the video provided by the Athletic Department’s site.]
“Obviously Notre Dame played a very good football game and we didn’t. You’ve got to give them a lot of credit. A lot of credit to what they did on third downs, either defending us or their third down opportunities that they converted on.
“We’ve got to go back to work, and we will as a team. You don’t want to have four turnovers in a game. That doesn’t help you. The red zone, we didn’t help ourselves in there. From the penalty side, we put ourselves behind the sticks offensively. And again, you’ve got to give them a lot of the credit too. But we will bounce back because this is a very resilient, hard-working group of young men who know what it takes to win.”
After [Devin] Gardner started fairly quickly, I think six-for-six, and then did they bring more pressure, did your offensive line struggle; what fell apart?
“I think a little bit it’s never one guy, it’s never one piece of the offensive line, or the quarterback, or the routes, or whatever. When those things happen I think they happen as a team. He started six-for-six. I think we’ve got to give them- we crossed the fifty and they were going to bring more pressure. That’s what they did.”
Can you talk about Ray Taylor and any update on his status?
“I’m not going to talk about any of those injuries. Number one, I don’t know enough about them.”
And then Jabrill [Peppers], he dressed. Could he have played?
“If he could have played we would have played him. We evaluated all those guys before the game.”
And then you dressed him?
“Well, he went out because we were evaluating him before the game.”
You said you’re pretty confident this team will bounce back. How do they bounce back from such a- I mean, this was a pretty humbling loss here.
“Yeah, it is but I think they’ve all been humbled sometime in their life. It’s part of the resiliency this group has.”
Your guys were pretty adamant about how bad they wanted this because of this possibly being the last game. Were you surprised at how lopsided this ended up being?
“This game? Yeah.”
[After THE JUMP: Gardner is still the starter, why Countess was pulled, and bouncing back from adversity]
file, but he did have the same polo on today
News bullets and other items:
- There’s a plan for the offensive line. It’s a good plan.
- We are not going to talk about any injuries.
“You ready? Thanks for coming. We had a very good practice yesterday which sometimes that's unusual with the first day of school because they're in classes and they've been in the fall camp where they had a little bit more time but from that standpoint I thought we compete and they challenged. It's a big mental day. Tuesdays always are because of the game plan. We were pretty sharp in that respect. Got to be sharper today because of the improvement every day, Because that's going to be important to our team. We're excited about the opportunity Saturday. It's one of the great rivalries and it'll be fun and it'll be a great atmosphere and we look forward to it."
Will Desmond Morgan play?
”Well, you know, we are not going to talk about any injuries.”
So he is injured?
“I didn't say that, you did.”
Jake Butt it looks like was running around on the film and some of those clips they released. Is there a chance…
“We are not talking about injuries. That's a good job though. Appreciate it.”
In terms of that, you said earlier that his timetable was...
“He's done a nice job.”
Greg Mattison has talked about preparing for Everett Golson. Is there something you do differently on the scout team here to prepare for a guy who is a dual threat?
“Yeah. We've used wide receivers in the past. Joe Reynolds was great to use because he was a quarterback in high school, so we've done that with some of the guys. Brian Cleary runs very well and he's done a good job with it and Wilton [Speight], as big as he is and as tall as he is is really a good athlete so those two have given us good looks. We've, because of the first opponent, worked really hard on the zone read aspect of it. Again, you're going to play a really good athlete. We have to have 11 guys getting to the football.”
Do you feel like maybe a construction foreman now because you've laid a pretty good foundation so far? Talk about building this week on top of what you've laid.
“When we got done with the game on Saturday, graded the game on Saturday, looked at it, dissected it, there's so many areas where we want to play more flawless. I know the linebackers felt that they didn't play as well as they need to. I know up front defensively, the inside guys, as far as getting off blocks a little better, holding the point a little better. The precision in the passing game. We had a quarterback who was 13 of 14 but from a mechanical standpoint, a route running standpoint, protection was pretty good but we are going to see a lot of different things this week from Notre Dame. You got to just react, communicate, and play a lot better.”
What about accountability like that [Ed.- this is referencing a microphone going out and the A/V guy taking responsibility for it]? I'm sure it extends to your players as well.
“Well, there's no question. The commitment level and the accountability to each other and what this group has done since last January, you know, has really been at a high level and we want to make sure it stays that way. The intensity in the stress that we can continue to put on our players so that when you do go to a great venue and play a game, a place where it's going to be loud – they pipe in their own music, as we all know. It's right in back of us. It's a place where we've got to play with a lot of focus. Got to be locked into everything we are doing.”
[More fun after THE JUMP]