How does game 7 look for you tonight?
“Oh, I don’t want to talk about—I don’t want to jinx ‘em. I just know last night in the seventh inning my wife tried to talk to me and I wouldn’t speak to her. I said, ‘Let me concentrate on this.’ Great move by the manager, by the way, to get the win you have to get.”
How about game 7 for you guys, Michigan State. They moved the ball on you guys a little bit. What happened there?
“I think they had some good runs. We didn’t tackle as well as we should’ve. I think our guys up front would say that at times we got a little high, and we haven’t been doing that. They saw it themselves. That’s the kind of group it is, and we addressed it and you keep moving forward.”
Was that more on the D-line?
“Yeah. I mean, I think I’m the kind of person, and our players, I think the D-linemen would say if a team runs the ball, it’s the D-line. We take great pride in that. We don’t want anybody to be able to run the football and when they do, we look at ourselves first. That’s the way it is.”
When you see Jabrill do all the things he did in that game and yet be able to move as quick as he did on that fumble, what are your thoughts?
“That’s Jabrill. I mean, he’s a special player. You see him practice like that. You’ll see him in practice—a lot of guys don’t see that. He’s in practice and he’ll do something like that, intercept the ball or something like that, and you’ll see him take off running and you’ll go whoa, where did that come from? That’s just the way he plays.”
[After THE JUMP: “So, some people when people gain a few yards every once in a while, they’d say, ‘Ah, no big deal.’ This group takes it to heart, and that’s what I think separates them.”]
Karan Higdon and Henry Poggi
Karan, Coach said you hit the hole the fastest of all the running backs. Of the other running backs, what do you think each of them brings to the table that leads to them getting more carries to help you guys win?
“Everybody brings different things. I think it’s just more of a feel of the game versus a lot of assets a player may have. But De’Veon’s extremely powerful. Chris is very similar, he’s quick to the hole. And Ty’s another powerful/quick runner. It’s just based off of what Coach feels.”
Karan, a couple short-yardage situation late in that game, it seemed like maybe there was a hole or what did you see on those plays, and those are obviously going to be critical going forward, right?
“Yeah, most definitely. The defense was penetrating. Our O-line did the best they could to hold it up and I just read. We’re just trying to continue going.”
Karan, from the start of camp, was this the plan to kind of have a running back by committee or was that something that just kind of evolved through the process of finding a running back?
“I would definitely say this is something that evolved. We definitely, I don’t think, planned to have a four-man rotation at running back, but seeing the amount of backs we have that can produce, I think that definitely played a big part of having a four-man rotation.”
[Hit THE JUMP for more]
What will it take to keep the guys focused and playing at a high level the rest of the year every week?
“I think it takes a lot of commitment. Hard work. Good goals. Uh…commitment. Good football character. Good human character. I feel like we’ve got those kind of guys.”
You’ve been able to get the ball to four running backs, a couple of wide receivers, Jabrill, fullbacks. Short and long term, how much does that help you whether it’s recruiting, but also to win games because the other team doesn’t quite know who’s going to get the ball and everybody’s fresh?
“I think it helps in all the ways you just said. Helps in all those areas.”
I think Mone went out of the game in the first half? Did he come back in or is he hurt?
“Yeah, he fell down. Fell down on his leg and came off, but he came in yesterday saying he felt good.”
Do you have any expectations whether Grant Perry will play this week or is he still going through whatever he’s going through?
“Yeah, we’ll…to be determined.”
Thoughts on DJ Durkin coming in with Maryland and the job he’s done with them so far this year.
“He’s done a fabulous job. Just always respected DJ as a tremendous competitor at the highest level. Smile thinking about his competitiveness, and also always happy for a friend’s success. I think he’s doing a fabulous job, him and his entire staff and team. You can see the energy. You can see the strength. You can see the competitiveness and execution on the field, et cetera. The flip side of that is we know that this’ll be a big game, a championship game. This will be a real test for our club.”
[After THE JUMP: We’ve got to build some immune systems. More push-ups. More whole milk.]
Talk about how the running game got you guys established early. Couple big runs on that first drive.
“Yeah, De’Veon was running really hard. All our backs were going. Both teams had success with the run early. That got us going. Set up quite a few things in the play action game and the passing game, and then our guys made plays.
“Really felt—[turns to SID] who’d you have in here? Saw Wilton. Who else was in here?”
SID: Wilton and Amara.
“Amara! Amara Darboh. [laughs uproariously] Heck of a game. That’s maybe one of his best. Talk about guys making plays, Amara Darboh was really making plays today. And Wilton, another tremendous game by him. You know, the throw he made before the half to Amara on the deep in route, I thought that was especially good after taking a hit, getting knocked down, taking a pretty hard hit and then coming back and throwing that one right on the money.
“Defensively, we made plays. Guys made plays. Three out of four fourth-down were huge in the ballgame. Jabrill getting the—got a fourth down stop and also picking up that conversion at the end, scoring a touchdown. Guys made plays. That’s the way I feel right now. Got the W.”
Jim, you talked about Amara going into the season as being your best receiver, and I think we’re seeing what you saw. Talk about what he’s done in the season to take it up even another level and what you’re getting from him right now.
“Well, his game is at a very high level. Some of the highest I’ve seen of a college receiver. I think he’s well established as a great playmaker and also disciplined in every route that he runs, he blocks, great teammate—he does it all and does it the best he could possibly do. He’s got a lot of god-given talent and great work ethic, et cetera. It was a premier game for him today.”
[After THE JUMP: “A lot of joy. It’s the great thrill of victory. The wonderful, wonderful feeling of winning. Jim McKay, right? ‘The thrill of victory’? Yeah. Good feeling.”]
“How’s it goin’? Lousy out there, eh? It’s that fall football weather. I love it.”
You’ve got to be pretty pleased with where things are right now with this defense.
“You know, it’s been a good seven weeks. Going through some learning curves and not everything’s perfect. You kind of ride the wave. You know, we had three bad plays last week. [mimics shooting self in neck] Bmmf. Not a good thing. You don’t want to give up any.
“We didn’t do a good job fitting up one of the runs on the long zone, and we let #5 out. Obviously two pass plays. They got Ben Gedeon matched up with #11, who’s a very good player. So whoever arranged that matchup for us is an idiot. It happens to be me. We’re hoping—it’s one of those scenarios where you’re in one of your zone blitzes and you’re anticipating getting there; through protection they did a good job getting it picked up a little bit. And then obviously I’d have liked to see us play that ball a little better in the endzone, but it is what it is and we move on.
“Again, nobody’s perfect. We’ve got some work to do. Helpful we brought a bunch of guys. But at the same time, I thought they did a good job of saying on third down, let’s get into vacant and get the ball out. But at the end of the day, they threw the ball 15 times, we had one sack and seven quarterback knockdowns, and six of ‘em weren’t very friendly so it takes its toll and it impacts the completion percentage for sure. Once again, we got off the field on third down about as well as you can.”
You mentioned letting #5 out. You had a #5 that chased him down. Can you talk about the effort on that kind of play?
“Yeah, you know, and it’s funny. It’s a great pickup by you. We talked about it yesterday in our defensive meeting. Sometimes those kinds of things happen, and when they do, you’ve got to go run ‘em down and start all over again, and we were able to get that done and then get off the field with no points. So, huge play by our #5. And again, he’s coming from the backside, so that’s all effort and energy right there to get there, but it’s a great point.
“We were in a five-man pressure, and like I tell them, if we give up something in a five-man pressure, guess what? The next play I guarantee you will be a five-man pressure, so you might as well just get used to that because we’re not going to back off. We’re not going to go, ‘Oh, that didn’t work!’ We’re just not going to do that.
“Great job on his part. I thought he played really well during the course of the game. We bounced him around pretty good positionally and he just continues to—it’s like I said the last time, we ask him to do a lot. Just proud of the way he’s been able to handle concepts. Obviously he’s doing a lot of jobs on a lot of sides of the ball, so it’s pretty interesting.”
[After THE JUMP: …about 20 years ago I used to say, ‘Will you just be a guy!’ As times have gotten modern…]
Jim said it was Wilton’s best game last week. After watching film, would you agree with that?
“Yeah. He was like 70% completion, made good decisions all the way across the board, was very accurate. A couple throws or a couple plays probably could have even taken back and gotten some more completions out of it. As we were looking at it, felt like there was some opportunity to even be a little bit better than that; couple more touchdowns. Excited about how he’s progressed and how he played in this game.”
What has helped Wilton really develop his consistency this season?
“He’s a consistent person, and I think it really starts from off the field and moves into the field or onto the field. He’s a guy that really does everything you want him to do. He wakes up about the same time every day. He says he goes to bed about the same time every day. He has a very consistent schedule in what he does. He’s told me weekends haven’t really changed his schedule anymore. He’s kind of programmed his body and himself really starting throughout training camp to be kind of what time he woke up in training camp is still what time he wakes up now. Just lives a very clean, consistent life, and because of that I think it’s parlayed into his football.”
Wilton talked a lot yesterday about avoiding aiming the ball. For us non-quarterbacks out here, what is the difference between aiming the ball and just letting it go, and how can you tell when that’s happening?
“It’s just like baseball. Sometimes you feel like when you’re thinking too much or you’re trying to put it in a certain spot, when you’re thinking and not following through it’s different than, hey, I’m just going to go out there and rip it, so to speak. I’m gonna go out there and I’m confident I can make that throw, I’m confident with where I’m going with the ball, I’m confident I can kind of just be free. And when you aim it is sometimes when you start overthinking, and I think that’s probably what he was thinking about, that it’s more of should I take a little bit off of this or not follow through as much as opposed to just going out there and playing.”
[After THE JUMP: impressions of State’s defense, making adjustments on the fly, and whether the staff scripts plays]