Jake Butt, Maurice Hurst, and Matt Godin
Talk about how your team still has its destiny in its hands in terms of winning out to get where you want even though you lost.
JB: “Yeah, obviously it’s a tough loss. It’s a game we could have won, so that’s gonna sting a little bit. But we reminded ourselves and each other that what we set out for at the beginning of the season is still right in front of us. We’re going to learn from this loss and become tougher and better because of it. We control our own destiny, so as long as we keep handling business we’re not worried about what anyone else is doing. We’ve just got to handle our own business and the rest will take care of itself.”
Matt, what were some of the problems up front against the run, especially on first down, on Saturday night?
“First of all, give credit to them. They had a great seam going in the run game, but we just weren’t fitting some of the things right in the run game, obviously. We’re gonna have to take a look at it in film today, but we’ll get it fixed.”
Jake, what were some of the things that guys were saying to each other yesterday, a day removed from that? Was there encouragement needed? Was anybody having to say anything, or did you all just realize how you had to move forward?
“Thankfully, we’ve got a veteran team, a lot of older guys that have seen a lot of different things in their career here, and a lot of mature younger guys, too, that can follow some of the older guys’ lead, [and] a great coaching staff that has seen a lot of things, too. It’s a tough game. We were going to face adversity this season. We wish we would have come out on top in that game, but we understand—there’s no panic button. We’re not gonna let one loss turn into two. We’re just going to continue the same mentality of get back to work today and move forward.”
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If John [O’Korn] has to play because Wilton’s injured, talk about your confidence in him and what he brings to the table individually as a quarterback.
JB: “If John’s number’s called, we’re fully confident in him. We’ve seen what he can do since he got here. He’s been a hard worker, great note-taker, great leader. He’s got everything you need to have to get the job done, so if his number’s called, if it turns out Wilton can’t go, he’ll be ready to go. We’re fully confident in him.”
What are you expecting from Indiana? They’re not a pushover and it’s going to be a very tough game for everyone from every line.
MG: “Offensively, high tempo, obviously. They do a little bit of both, run the ball, pass the ball, but the biggest thing is their tempo.”
JB: “Defensively, Indiana always plays us very, very tough. In recent years they’ve been really good, close games. I know it’s our senior day this weekend. I’m sure they might have it in the back of their mind we kind of stole that game from them last year on their senior day, so we understand they’re gonna come in here ready to go and ready to compete. We’ve got to handle business this week in practice.”
MH: “I just know they’re gonna come out ready to play. I mean, Indiana, every year we’ve played them it’s been a shoot-out game. I think defensively we’ve just got to work on trying to get them off the field—especially on third downs—and work on our fits in the run game and try to clear up some of the stuff we messed up. We’ve really been getting teams’ best shots and obviously try to design something to break down our defense, so we just have to come out prepared to stop them.”
Jake, you mentioned you guys will be tougher and stronger for having gone through this adversity, which of course if what you need to say, but do you see that without your quarterback, down the home stretch, do you see tangible signs this seam will regroup? People will look at the QB situation and wonder what that transition might be.
“Absolutely. I think like you said, it’s really the only way to go about this. I’m very confident our team will be able to bounce back from something like this. It starts with our coaching staff; they’re going to put us in a position to succeed. We’re lucky to have these coaches that are gonna come to work every single day and do everything they can to find an edge, and we’ve got unbelievable players on both sides of the ball and special teams that are going to do everything they can. We’re gonna lay it all on the line and leave it all on the field Saturday this weekend and going forward. I have full confidence in everybody on this team.”
You guys are obviously focused on the business at hand, but any thoughts on your last game in Michigan Stadium?
MG: “It’s gonna be special. Been here for a long time; it’s my fifth year, Jake’s fourth year, and Mo’s a veteran, too. It’s gonna be a special game for the last one.”
JB: “Yeah, it’s gonna be surreal. I know there’s gonna be a lot of emotions for a lot of different guys. It’s gonna be a special day.”
MH: “I think especially knowing that our destiny is kind of in our own hands and this is the biggest game of the year for us I think just means everything. We have so many seniors and fifth-year seniors on the offensive and defensive end, they’ve been here forever and been through a lot of ups and downs since we’ve been here with the change in coaching staff and all that, so really it’s gonna mean a lot to a lot of people. Would like to go out with a win.”
Seems like you guys had a hard time getting off the field Saturday. What was it like getting through that mob, and was it a little scary out there?
MG: “I wouldn’t say it was scary, but it was different. Throughout the season we’ve been pretty good on third downs and getting off the field. I mean, it’s something that we prepare for and that we just kept going at it.”
I meant the mob on the field after.
MG: “Ohhh, okay. I thought you were talking about the defense. I’m sorry.”
MH: “That was something else. There’s kind of a shock-factor thing going on. Just wanted to get out of there in that moment. Not really thinking too much about anything, really, expect just frustration and disappointment in the game. That’s pretty much it.”
MG: “It was pretty tough. Dodged a lot of people getting off there.”
You’re all young guys. Do you take a look at the rankings and take anything away from those or do you just concentrate and focus on the next game. It’s all sort of entertainment out there with the rankings, but how seriously do you look at those apart from focusing on the next game?
MG: “Obviously we see the rankings. Everyone sees them. They’re in our mind, you know. They should. It’s our goal to be ranked as best as possible, but like you said, the next game is the most important one.”
JB: “Yeah, kind of like Matt said, you see them, you’re aware of them, but we understand what we’re ranked today doesn’t really matter. It’s what we’re ranked when the time comes, so we’re not really getting too much—we are aware of them but we’re not getting caught up too much in them. We understand that we have to handle our business first and foremost. We have to win this next game and then obviously win the one after that and then the rankings will take care of themselves.”
Matt, we mentioned it earlier in the year, too. Are you having the kind of year that you hoped for? And I guess maybe that’s not the best way to ask it, but you’ve come in, you’ve played well considering the circumstances, fifth-year senior. Have you exceeded your own expectations?
“I mean, team-wise—I don’t want to talk about myself—but team-wise, winning every game was always the expectation. Then personally, I have pretty high expectations for myself, so I think in all these games I could have done more, but it’s been a good season so far.”
Is there anything you’ve done that maybe surprised yourself or you learned about yourself as far as a different level of play?
“Uh, no, not really.”