- The bubble screen was praised. I may or may not have been there for it. I may or may not have been crying inconsolably all day as a result.
- Devin's left arm went numb during the game. Had to call timeout to get feeling back in it. Should we be concerned? Should we stop offending Angry Michigan Ulnar Nerve Hating God?
- Fitz missed practice time last week because of a concussion. He'll be back this week.
“Thanks for coming out. You know, it was a game where I think our defense really kept us in the football game, and I thought from the overtime, the offense started making a couple more things happen down in the red zone. That’s one thing both offense and defense we have to continue to work out. The red zones. Those haven’t been as good as we’d have liked them to be. But offensively I thought we started doing some nice things. We started the games, after the kickoff, we drive down, we have to do better in the red zone. We kicked the field goal, but we have to do a little bit more with it. We were 0 for 10 at one point on third down, which is not a number we want. It will be better. But the two backs, I think Derrick [Green] and De’Veon [Smith] did a nice job, averaged 4.4 yards per carry between the both of them. I think Devin [Gardner] had some form of running the ball 17 times. Had five sacks. Probably seven or eight called runs, and the rest of them called scrambles. He threw 43 times, did a nice job. We’ve got some that we dropped, and got some that we need to be a little more accurate and read through a little more.
“But at the end of the day, two things: Gallon jumping on the ball on the punt late to save time. It was a smart football play by him. And then I can’t give enough credit to – I told you after the game, it was one of the best team plays I’ve seen. When your field goal team gets on the field and guys on offense get off the field. I thought [Drew] Dileo, where he was, ran a vertical route on the other side of the field, and his effort to get there and slide in and hold. Gibby not really having a chance to go through his normal kicking procedure. Jareth Glanda, you can’t say enough about his snaps … But that whole team and the team getting off the field did a tremendous job. Gave us an opportunity to keep playing and win the game in three overtimes.”
What did you see on film in the running game that you liked?
“Well I think the three guys inside really established the line of scrimmage when you watch the tape. They were able to get started better. The backs were. I thought with the bubble screen and the fake bubble, pulled the linebacker a little bit which made it a little better for the guy to combo up to. Both of those guys are pretty much downhill runners. They had a chance to run north and south because of their size and style. They had pretty good vision most of the time. We thought one in the end zone and in the red zone, thought we probably read that one wrong, but for the most part they ran hard. But they got started.”
Will Fitzgerald Toussaint play or start?
“We’ll see where we shake out at the end of the week with who will be the first back in. Jake Butt is coming along as a freshman. He made a great catch. It doesn’t surprise any of us, because we’ve seen him do it in practice. But he’s a guy who’s really maturing and a really good weapon for us. And just developing as a football player.”
Did Derrick and De’Veon force your hand to make this more of a competition?
“I don’t know if it’s more. We always have a competition, like you said. You’ve got to give them credit, though, for how they played.”
What does a game like this do for the rest of your season?
“There’s no question we needed to go out and play Michigan football and fight for 60-plus minutes. I think the teaching moments that are so critical for a team and especially when you’ve got young guys, just what you did with their hurry-up field goal. That and how we practice it and how we do it, the emphasis that’s made there. I think winning the football game, you can throw the weather in, you can throw a lot of things in. They responded well and never panicked. It was kind of neat on the sideline. The offense was out there, and the defensive guys were chanting, ‘Offense!’ It was like high school. It was neat. They were having fun. We did the same thing when the defense was on the field. They really, as a team, played. And they cared and they were accountable.”
Seemed like the first few quarters were an offensive struggle, but then you did better in overtime. What can you build from that going forward?
“I thought our ball security was much better. That’s been pretty good. We had a couple instances where they had a drop here and there interception-wise. So there’s a couple reads that we have to [improve]. I think [Devin’s] attitude was fighting. We kept going. We had to call a time out. He told me, ‘Coach, we have to call a time out,’ because he couldn’t feel his left arm. We called time out, he worked it back to where he could feel it. He did a tremendous job.”
Is this a typical Iowa team as far as the trenches go?
“No question. If youv’e covered it long enough, you’d know that it’s going to be a physical line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. I think they’ve only allowed four rushing touchdowns all year. They’re averaging 197 yards rushing the football. They’ll be physical at the point of attack. They’re not going to be flashy. You know that going in. Both of our fronts have to be physical and have to, from an offensive standpoint, target things right, and from a defensive standpoint, have to get, with the stretch plays and zone plays, as much as you can up the field for penetration.”
So is Devin really banged up at this point?
“You know, he’s better probably now than he was two weeks ago. So … he’s fine.”
He’s not 100 percent, though.
“I don’t think any guy in football is 100 percent.”
He wasn’t wearing his knee brace Saturday.
What was it for? And why?
“I think he decided not to wear it. I don’t put the knee brace on him. He felt that he didn’t need it.”
How come? Did he have an injury?
“Heh. I think a lot of quarterbacks wear knee braces. Was it on his left leg or right leg?”
Did we finally see what you’ve wanted out of Thomas Gordon over the last few years?
“I thought Thomas really played fast in that football game, so the answer would be yes. He did a nice job with his eyes, his discipline, because that’s always where it starts in the back end. From a stance to his feet and his discipline. Getting his reactions, his reads. I thought he really did a nice job … I think you always as a senior and going back a lot of years, a lot of years, you start realizing that the hour glass is going fast. We put a lot of pressure on those guys in this ball game because of the perimeter and what [Northwestern] loves to do on the perimeter. They did a good job with it.”
Is this the best you’ve seen your perimeter defense play?
“I think a lot of that, you’ve got to get Greg Matty a lot of credit, because we stayed in a lot of what we call our base defense, our Wolverine package, because of you have Cam Gordon and you have Jake Ryan. Those two, with a wide receiver, if you looked at the wide receivers from Northwestern, especially the guys to the field, they’re big guys. They want big guys because they want to block the perimeter. We put two big guys out there who are pretty good athletes in their own right. I think that helped a lot. It helped show things a little faster for a guy like Thomas to trigger off of. That’s part of it.”
How much does having a game like this help your confidence?
“Believe me, that’s an important part. We weren’t perfect, but some of the movement that we got at the line of scrimmage and, believe me, that will be tested this week because of how Iowa plays the line of scrimmage and who they have playing it. It will be tested. But they got movement. It was really good to see the combination blocks working together.”
Did Fitz practice yesterday, and do you expect him to miss any time this week?
“I doubt he misses any time this week. We didn’t do our normal practice. We did some lifting and running and stuff like that. We did more mental work, meeting time, film, that kind of stuff.”
What is Fitz ailing from?
“You know what, he had a little bit of a head – concussion thing. But he practiced late in the week. We just didn’t think he had practiced enough. Let’s put it that way.”
That last play in regulation. When that situation is developing, is it up to each guy to be aware of it, or is there someone on the sideline organizing it?
“Well, Coach [Dan] Ferrigno and myself, they were basically standing behind him and me, where the ball finally got marked. They went from there. Now, there’s always, when that drive started, we started making sure Quinton Washington and the guys on defense were where they needed to be and the guys coming in were Erik Gunderson. Gibby was still kicking. Matt [Wile] went and got him and said, ‘Hey, you have to be ready for a hurry-hurry field goal.’ ”
Does it make you feel better to have two viable backup running backs?
“Well it was nice to see them. And the other guy I want to mention is Justice Hayes. He came in, did a nice job in the protections, tried to get the rail to him, threw one screen which should have been a big play, yeah it was nice to get those two going a little bit. No question.”
Does it seem like Smith and Green fit the power running style more than Fitz does?
“You know, I think that’s a hard question because Fitz has done so good at some of the things the last couple years. So there’s a fit for all three.”
How was the targeting on the offensive line?
“Much better. Much better. Al [Borges] did a nice job with where we ran the ball and how we developed and things that went along with it, which I’m not going to talk about.”
Are you simplifying?
“Yeah, we have for the last two and a half weeks.”
If Shane Morris had to go into a game, what can he do now compared to what he could do in September?
“Well, if you say a percentage, he’s probably closer to 75, 80 percent now, whereas in September, he was probably 45 or 50.”
When Devin throws near-interceptions, is the problem with the read or with mechanics?
“Well, I think some of them he’s reading it and hurrying it or not letting it develop completely.”
With the Big Ten Title out of reach, does it affect your philosophy for how you use your personnel?
“No. If we didn’t have guys who didn’t work hard or didn’t come in and have a good attitude, then that would impact your thinking. But our seniors, and I’ve said this all year, they’ve come in and worked every practice. I think our intensity and our concentration, the focus, I think it continues to get better, but it’s been good all year.”
Willie Henry had another solid game.
“Yeah, he did. James Ross had a good game. A lot of that was Willie, and I thought Quinton had his best game. I think the rotation with him, Jibreel, Willie, and Ryan Glasgow, held in there pretty well to free some linebackers up, which is what at the end of the day they need to make sure they’re doing.”
Do you feel like James Ross has turned a corner?
“Yeah, he seems like he’s been very comfortable in what we’re doing and what we’re asking him to do. At the same time, I would say a little bit the front is doing a better job.”
Has linebacker been your steadiest spot?
“Might be. I think Frank [Clark] and that group with the ends, and the SAMs have been pretty steady.”
What kind of progress have you seen from the pass rush?
“I think the last couple weeks, there was a little more pocket presence on the quarterback. We may not get there all the time, but there’s hurries and quarterback hits, trying to do as much of it without having to bring in a lot of other guys.”
Why is it so tough to play at Iowa? Also, what is Derrick Green’s weight?
“I cannot tell you Derrick’s weight … I think anywhere in this conference is tough to play. It’s a lot like East Lansing.”