[Ed. A- I couldn’t make it to Indiana this past weekend but luckily Ace and David were willing and able. David pulled out the kind of move you’d expect from a wily veteran and got my recorder on the table right in front of the mic, which matters a ton to me and none to you. But hey, here’s a post for you to read with words that were said, then recorded with excellent clarity, and finally transcribed with… hands? Yes, hands and typing and such.]
Can you talk about Karan Higdon today, especially on those big plays?
“Yeah, he was phenomenal. I don’t know how many yards he got after contact but they were tough yards, and had some plays that looked like they were going to be a tackle for loss or a one-yard gain or no gain that he found a way to get four or five out of. More than a few. Lot of yards—I think more than 200 in the game—and cracked the big one for us and didn’t get trapped behind the line thought, I don’t know, if at all, maybe a couple times. But yeah, big boost from Karan Higdon today.”
Defense had been on the field a lot and when they faced goal-to-go from the two and had two negative plays and couldn’t come up much bigger. Talk about how those guys dug down deep were able to dig down deep.
“Yeah, I really thought our whole team did. Put our best people on it, our players and out coaches, and asked them to find a way and knew that we were going to have to dig down deep to do it. The goal-line stand was a great opportunity for us to keep them out of the end zone and win the ball game and responded with the tackle for loss and the incompletion, interception, and the quarterback option run up the middle so it was a great four plays for us.”
Was there a point in the game when you realized that Karan was going to be the guy to carry you through on offense or was that always the plan going in?
“Yeah, I mean, Karan started the game and we leaned on him heavy. I thought Chris [Evans] and Ty [Isaac] both added some good plays there. Nice to see Kareem Walker get a shot and produce; might be more carries for him in the future. We’ve got a long way to go. We’re very humble about this, and we’ll move on to a big road game next week, but this was a big game for our team. And mistakes were made but I think it’s something we can really grow from.”
[After THE JUMP: “We were grinding some meat out there today” is a way better phrase than “It was tough sledding”]
Can you talk about the level to which Lavert Hill elevated his game and his play today.
“It’s been pretty high all season. It really has. Lavert’s been a really good player for us; I was gonna say ‘steady’ but he’s been better than steady. He’s been playing at a really high level. Had some great defenses on the ball, pass breakups and interceptions and tight coverage. Really good, really good. That’s why we brought him here!”
And then the punt from Brad [Robbins], had you asked him to kick away from him on that last one or did you just decide to take a chance there?
“No, he was supposed to kick it to the opposite boundary that he did. Wound up in the middle of the field. You could see they had a wall set up. From my view, looked like he kicked the laces, too, which… there’s a lot of young guys out there and he’s one of them, and he’s doing a phenomenal job and the other guys are doing a phenomenal job.
“I mean, Donovan [Peoples-Jones] had some punt returns that… they’re close, you know. But he came through as well and is somebody that if you look up and down the roster, Aubrey Solomon and Michael Dwumfour getting in there when it was crunch time and doing a heck of a job and many others. Guys like Rashan and Chase Winovich and Mike McCray and Lavert, who’s really young too, those guys have been really steady. Playing with great effort. I think that’s where it all starts. You’re seeing that the effort is really there, and it was last week. There’s mistakes made and we’ve just got to grow from them and get them corrected.
“Knew what we were in for today. We really did. We knew we were in for a football fight; last time we were in here went to double overtime, this time it goes to overtime. Indiana’s got a veteran ball club and played very well, as they always do.”
Sixteen penalties today, some were costly. How concerning is that?
“Yeah, those are some of the things we’ve got to grow. We’ve got to grow and improve on. Just keep coaching it, just keep talking about it and learning from it. Been around young ball clubs before and that’s—it’s a process, and that’s one. We’ve got to become a more disciplined football team. We know it, we see it, we’re coaching it, we’re talking about it, and we’re going to keep taking strides. But when guys dig down, you feel like you’ve got a heck of a chance.”
Do you feel like that’s the way this team is going to have to win games throught the year, scrap out close games, rather than last year putting up 40, 50 points a game given how young you are and learning on the go?
“Well, I mean, when you’re—no it doesn’t have to be that way. We can grow and we can learn and you know that you will. I mean, I put myself back when I was a true freshman or a sophomore, redshirt freshman, or even a sophomore, redshirt sophomore, a junior, practically a junior in school, wasn’t a finished product by any means. I don’t think I even could have gone out there as a true freshman like some of these guys are.
“They’ve got something special. If you can dig down, dig deep, and stay in the moment, not look for a soft shoulder to cry on or an excuse to be made while you’re in the moment then that’s something special.”
Yeah, I guess that’s what I was asking, that at this present time they’re going to need that and not be able to--
“We can grow. We can grow, Dan. And our best people will be on it. We’re putting our best people on it, Dan. Our players and our coaches and we’ll forge ahead.”
What did you see from John this week in practice and his demeanor in the game today. Guessing he wasn’t maybe where you’d like him to be. What did you see from John overall?
“Well, I mean, we’ll have to really look at it, really look at the tape before I go into comment on that on how much was there. He had some opportunities, not a lot. We were grinding some meat out there today. It wasn’t the plan to throw it 25 times or 30 times or 20 times. But had some opportunities. Made some plays. Pulled off a Houdini play and overthrew an open go route to Donovan. Just got to look at it before I say anything.”
You’ve talked a little bit about the callous building. All these guys are young; is this a callous game?
“It’s a process. It’s a good one, though. They like being around each other, I can tell you that. They like practicing hard and they like playing hard. They like leaving it all out there on the field. Those are really good things to have, so we’ll keep forging on.”
You put Juwann Bushell-Beatty in at right tackle. What does he do to the chemistry of the offensive line?
“Again, got to look at the tape, really. Must have been good when we rushed the ball for as many yards as we did today. We’ll look. Had to be some really good play up front. So… good. They fight. I’ll tell you what they do: they fight. You really love that when you have a ball club that’s like that.”