News bullets and other important items:
Kickoffs: There was one bad kick and nine missed tackles, but kicking it short and to the right was on purpose to avoid Raheem Mostert.
Denard's wrist is fine.
Gallon's job as punt returner is not in danger.
Hoke did not consider putting in Rawls earlier for Toussaint.
“Thanks for coming. Very pleased with the win. It’s great to win, obviously. I thought we set a tone early defensively and great to win on the road is what I should say because you look at this league on the road, it’s a tough place to play. I thought we set the tone with the three-and-out on the defense, and offensively, 17-play drive, almost nine minutes, really was what we needed to do. We play really good defense watching our offense out there on the field. That’s a good deal. I think we practiced well for the week. We prepared well. Liked how our guys came to work every day, and we need to continue to do that. We know we’re in a championship game every Saturday, so our mentality and attitude needs to reflect that by our actions in practice. We had a good day yesterday, and hopefully we can continue that.”
Can you talk about how your team gets closer to what you want week by week?
“I don’t know if they’ll ever be what we want. They’ll going to work hard at it. We’re going to work hard at it. I think some guys who came into the year with not many reps under their belt, experience is always important. Significant reps in the game are important when you look at fundamentals and techniques.”
What do you like about your pass defense and what would you like to see your pass defense do better?
“Number one we don’t, at this point in the season, I don’t think we’re getting enough pressure on the quarterback. I think that helps those guys in the back end. And then at the same time I think there’s times when we need to do a better job to tighten with either zone blitz coverages or man coverages because now you force that quarterback to be a little more accurate. I think we keep searching as coaches for different ways to manufacture some pressure, and at the same time have good coverage with it. I think we’re a work in progress with it, and I think we’ll continue to even look at different groups, who you put on the field, and do that a little differently.”
How would you assess your running back play? Are you at a point where Rawls is pushing for more carries?
“I don’t think so. Yeah, we want to run the ball a little better, but when you go back and look at it and see -- if you remember a year ago, Fitz ran for a 170 yards against Purdue. They weren’t going to let him do that. I mean, they were very concerned with taking that part of our offense away. Denard rushed for 235, so something’s got to give, so what gave was Denard, 235 on 25 carries. I don’t think there were any golden opportunities because of how they defended the tailback position.”
Toussaint hasn’t gotten going this year much. Is he running differently this year?
“I don’t think so. I just don’t think we’ve had enough opportunities for him.”
What have you seen out of Kenny Demens the last four weeks?
“I think he’s played better football. To be honest with you, and I think this happens sometimes, I think he’s prepared better. I think, Joe, that competition there and having two guys -- Joe has enough snap experience now that you feel good about whne he’s in the ball game also. I think it’s great competition. I think the mentality that Kenny’s had and his preparation has been good.”
MGoQuestion: You experimented with kickoffs vs. UMass. Against Purdue, how would you assess the coverage and --
“Kickoff coverage wasn’t good at all. We missed nine tackles. We hit two kicks poorly from a kicker’s standpoint. When you miss nine tackles, because there were opportunities and the negative to that is most of those guys -- I think all of them but one -- are defensive players on that team. Darboh’s the only offensive player on that team. We have to do a better job running through guys. Too many guys reaching, not enough guys running through tackles.”
MGoFollowup: What about the decision to angle your kicks?
“We did that all year. It depends who we want to kick the ball to to some degree. Tried to keep it out of No. 8’s hands. The other part of it is Matt kicks to the one side better than the other.”
How has the progression of the defensive line helped Kenny Demens?
“I think it does help. Again, you got some significant guys who have got real snaps where they haven’t had near as many before, so there’s a learning that they go through. I think it’s better. I think it helps. I think we’re playing a little tighter on offensive linemen, which means we’re getting hands on them a little more. And that keeps the linebackers a little more clear.”
Assessment of Scheelhaase?
“Well, I think from a defensive standpoint, Scheelhaase is a guy that can be very dangerous. He’s very effective running the football. He’s healthy. I don’t think he was healthy earlier in the year. They played well deep into that game against Wisconsin. Their defense is leading the league in redzone or third down defense, which means they’re getting offenses off the field. They’ve got playmakers. Brown and Buchanan are two of their playmakers. I think they’ve got a lot of weapons. ”
What do you make of Denard throwing the ball away and running out of bounds without taking contact?
“I think it’s maturity. Two of the best plays the other day from an offensive standpoint were when Fitz, on the one-yard touchdown run, he went after it. It was blocked decently well, but they had lined up wrong, so the guy that lined up wrong runs over to where he’s supposed to be, and that’s where we expected him to be anyway, but as an offensive lineman you’re coming off the ball and someone’s not there, and Fitz ran through him. And then I thought Denard throwing the ball out of bounds on a critical third down. He’s a competitor and he wants to make something happen on every play, but I thought that was very well done. And then not taking the big hits if you don’t have to.”
How do you feel about Gallon handling punt returns?
“Like him. Love him.”
You also had Dileo back there …
“That was because of the inconsistency their punter had going into the game. He would punt some 30 yards, and why give up field position?”
What do you say to your team about not looking ahead to Michigan State? Illinois frankly doesn’t look very good at all.
“That’s your opinion. I don’t think we’ll have any problems.”
Has Denard met your expectations so far at this point in the season?
“Yeah. He always does. I mean, he comes out and competes. He comes out and works. He works in that building. I think Al’s -- Coach Borges’s plan was what we wanted to do. It was a good plan and well executed.”
Did Fitz need to be more vertical? Were there opportunities for him to do so that he may have missed?
“You know what, not as much as I thought during the game to be honest with you. I thought there may have been one in there in the first half where I thought he could have maybe stuck his foot in the ground, but there was no real golden opportunities for him. And that was how they wanted to defend us.”
Was that on Purdue or was that on lack of execution on the offensive line?
“I would say mostly Purdue. They weren’t going to let him rush for 170 yards because that’s what really got them in trouble a year ago.”
Does the fact that this next unretired number is associated with a former President add something to the process?
“I don’t think there’s any doubt. The significance, when yo have a former president of the United States of America, a graduate, a player -- believe me, it’s very significant.”
Assessment of Gibbons? And did the wind knock down that one missed FG?
“Oh yeah. It was right on. They go out before and we communicate before the game on where they feel that spot is, where it could be a little long, especially with the wind that was there. It was right on that number. He kicked it well, and the wind just kept it and pushed it back. He’s done well. I think we’d rather have touchdowns than field goals when we’re in the red zone. That’s disappointing, but I think he responded really well. I think Jareth Glanda, the snapper, and Drew need a little credit. I’ll tell you who else. Quinton Washington and Will Campbell. Because Kawann Short had blocked three this year already. They did a nice job up the middle of our formation of our PAT team.”
How did Beyer look in his first game back?
“He was okay. He was good. I mean, he’s a good football player, and I thought he did a good job.”
You talk about wanting more pressure from your defensive line. Is he a guy that you might --
“He may. He’s one of those guys that having him back, he’ll be healthier this year I’m sure than he was last week. Having him back is important to us.”
What do you think is the key for your defensive line to generate more pressure?
“Well we had a couple opportunities, and instead of running through the quarterback, we jumped. I don’t know why we do that. Some of it is it’s a natural thing. Guy gets the ball up, his off-hand comes up, and he thinks it’s going to come out. But we want to run through. We missed nine tackles on the kickoff team. Nine tackles because we didn’t run through. We were grabbing. Same thing when you jump or if you grab. You have to bring your feet. Feet are the most important thing. We have to do a better job with that. We screwed up a gain, an inside gain, that -- it was … [shakes head vigorously] … It was sickening how good it could have been, let’s put it that way.”
Your pass defense is ranked 7th nationally. What do you like that your pass defense is doing?
“You know, I think as much as anything, they’re taking what they’re learning during the week from a personnel standpoint maybe, formation standpoint, down and distance, all those things that you want to teach as a coach and it’s going to help them. I think they’re doing a good job with that. I think at spots, we’re playing good coverage. I think there is a consistency that we don’t have in coverage sometimes, pressure on the quarterback.”
Denard looked like he hurt his hand or wrist on his last throw.
“He’s fine. Practiced yesterday.”
“I made that statement once.”
Minus Denard’s yards --
“This is scary now.”
Minus Denard’s yards, are you at all concerned about running back production?
“Yeah. I mean I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t, but I think up front, I thought those guys played pretty solid when you look at it. Their best game? No. But they played solid. We just have to keep making some improvements, you know, every day there.”
Did you ever consider putting in Rawls earlier?
“No. Not really.”
“Because Fitz hadn’t proven that he can’t.”
How did Purdue take away the running back?
“… Are you going to take it away with the outside guy? They wanted to crash it a little bit, and that’s where the fumble came from. Or are you going to defend the quarterback with your end and have the linebacker run over the top? There’s a lot of different ways.”
How often does a good week of practice translate to a good game?
“Probably happens more often than not. When you like a practice, you like it for different reasons. I like it when the assignment execution, and the effort … We may be bad fundamentally -- you know, not step with the right foot or something like that -- but when they’re playing with great effort then they’re playing with a toughness that goes along with it, and they’re competing. And the speed and the tempo of how we’re playing. That, to me, is what I did like coming off the bye week. Everybody says, ‘Well, what did you think of the bye week?’ I don’t know. You really don’t know until the end of the year. But I know we didn’t lose the speed and we may have gained some speed that we want to play with.”
Was there something missing in practice in previous weeks?
“You know, not as much. That’s what I was going to get back to and I forgot, but we’ve had good practices before and not executed from the standpoint of assignment-wise.”
Do you like practices better than games?
“I don’t know. I kind of like all of it to be honest with you. That’s why I do it. Being around those kids.”
Your passing game wasn’t very prominent against Purdue. Was that something you feel needs to be more balanced or did that game need to be that way?
“That game needed to be that way. That was the plan. That was the plan. Get him back running the football, feeling good, and then go from there.”
In retrospect do you wish you would have run the ball more in previous games?
“I don’t think so. You know, and we talked about it last week, that going in and playing on the road we’re a different team than on the road. Have been. We talked about that.”
Taylor Lewan said there were 23 missed assignments against Notre Dame. Did that number decrease against Purdue?
“It was better than 23. I can’t give you the exact number offensively … Probably inside of 12.”
What’s acceptable for you?
“Zero. I mean, really.”
How about Jake Ryan?
“He was pretty daggone good. He’s unorthodox. He’s a football player. He’s playing well. He’s a football player.”
What do you mean by unorthodox?
“He just does thing differently. He can get away with fundamentally doing something wrong, but he has that extra gear that makes it right.”
Is he at a point where offenses needs to always be aware of his presence?
“Oh I don’t know that. I wouldn’t.”
Do you still chew him out if he does something fundamentally wrong?
“Yeah. That’s life.”
“Because you want him to do it the right way.”
Maybe it’s not the right way for him.
“There IS a right way. You’re getting feisty today. You lose in tennis or what?”
I actually got sleep. I was going to ask you something and now you’ve made me forget what it is.
“Something about the punters probably.”
Oh yeah! I was going to ask you about Dileo. What does he bring to the table. He’s joked about being the only white receiver.
“You know what he brings. He’s a football player. He is truly -- he’s like Jake. They’re football players. They love to play. They love to learn how to play. They come with the mentality every day. They take high regard of their responsibility for their team, and they love to play the game.”
Doesn't everyone love to play?
“I don’t know if you can go through every division I school in the country and say all 105, 115 truly love to play.”
How does it manifest itself in practice?
“Because you don’t practice hard when you don’t love to play.”
And when you love to play?
“You practice hard. You don’t make excuses. You don’t make mistakes.”
Is that something you can teach? Or is it a natural thing?
“What’s your favorite food?”
My favorite food?
“If you were on death row, what would be your last meal?
Um. Uh. Pizza.
“Okay. You love it.”
I do love it.
“You love football the same way.”