“Let’s get this thing going and let’s go get us a win. Northwestern’s a very very good offense obviously. They’ve got a lot of weapons, Colter being the number one. He is an outstanding quarterback. We’re going to have to be ready and we’re going to have to come to play.”
Are they a different team without Venric Mark?
“They have a number of running backs. They’ve had four running backs that have played a lot, and their offense, they do such a great job of making you be honest with everything you do. Running back is good in their offense.”
There were some issues with the option against Nebraska. Will Northwestern be similar in terms of offensive style?
“There are some definite similarities. The thing that makes it difficult – a lot of those options in the Nebraska game came on third downs. You people all are saying, ‘Why don’t you pressure more?’ So I’m trying to pressure, thinking we can get home, and they check to option. That’s part of the game. That’s part of it. We had to rally to it, and we had to try to make a play on it. That’s the fine line where you decide if you’re going to be a pressure team in passing situations or are they going to change their game plan and check to a running play. There were a number of times when we came out of it okay, and a couple times we didn’t.”
Can both their quarterbacks run option?
“[Trevor Siemian] doesn’t run it much. He’s more of a thrower. Colter is Colter. Watching him over the last three years has – second and eight, he finds a way to get eight and a half. He’s a winner. He’s a football player.”
MGoQuestion: Are you rotating guys in the secondary so much these days by necessity or because guys are earning the playing time?
“Well Thomas [Gordon] had a bit of an ankle injury. He played on the special teams but we didn’t feel that he could run like he had to in that game. But we feel like – I mentioned this after the Indiana game – you rotate other guys so they’re fresh and can go as hard as they can go. One thing that’s hard is the secondary, and they run as much as anybody. We do try to rotate those guys. And some of those young guys are coming on, so you want to get more guys in there.”
MGoFollowup: Being on the same page mentally is important in the secondary. Could rotation become a problem against a team like Northwestern?
“No, because you don’t wholesale four secondary guys. Blake Countess came up injured and therefore that was a necessity. And Thomas was injured, so that was a necessity. So the corner position has been rotating, so we just rotated them a little more or as much as they can.”
Do you think Northwestern is better than their record might indicate?
“No question there. They’re well coached. That’s a very good program. Their staff is a very good staff. Those kids, they come out and battle every game. In some ways, you look at the same way as us. I mean, [we’re] two plays away from sitting here eight and one. Even though you always want to play better. They’re the same way. They could have won every one of those games just about that they lost. So those kids are buying in, and that’s what our kids will do also. We’re coming out this week, and it’s the next game. We have to get better and we have to finish the game and get a win.”
How do you like the three-man rotation at MIKE and WILL linebacker?
“Those three guys play extremely hard and it’s a very physical position. They’re not the biggest guys. You’ve got to be able to make sure that they can play as fresh and fast as possible. The three guys that have earned the right to do that, that’s been a plus for us.”
How important is Desmond Morgan?
“Desmond’s the veteran. He’s played a lot of football here already in three years. He’s kind of the glue in there. He’s the one that has been in there in the big games and stuff like that, so that’s why we like to keep him in there as much as we can. At the same time he plays so hard, he’s not going to be as good if he’s tired. That’s why we tried to rotate him.”
James Ross seems to have improved over the last couple games. What do you like about the way he’s responded?
“James the last two ball games is back to James playing hard, playing fast, playing physical, and he knows if he does that, then he’ll play. He’ll be what we need. He wants to. I’m proud of him. He came out in this game and played very very hard and did some really good things.”
You haven’t seen a lot of the option …
“That’s always a big thing. Our scout team and our guys, we have to do a great job of drawing the cards, we have to make sure they learn how to do it, and you have to spend a lot of time doing it.”
Do you have a scout team quarterback that can run the option?
“We’ve had Capatina do that. He’s very fast. He did a very good job last week simulating it. I had a manager running the jet read. He ran about 40 in a row one day. He was pretty fast, too. He played at Northview at Grand Rapids. He must have been pretty good. We just have to make do and make sure we get that look. That’s a huge thing, especially as the season goes on, when your numbers go down a bit, and you’ve got to do a good job to make sure you get a great look.”
Any young guys on the scout team catching your eye?
“Um, you know, again, the scout team guys that I see are the offensive linemen. Believe me, I haven’t had a second to look at anything but our guys. They do a good job. Of course, our head football coach is the guy that runs the scout team, so they better do a good job. Our scout team, I’m proud of them. They come out every day, and that’s a tough job. They do a good job.”
Taco Charlton’s progress?
“Taco’s gotten better every day. The guy that’s really done a good job with Taco is Frank Clark. I think Frank Clark sees a lot of [himself in Taco]. Frank has really helped coach him when I would get on him and he would say, ‘Hey, he’s trying to get you to do this.’ In the last week, Taco has really taken some big steps. We wanted to get some more speed on our sub team, and that showed a couple times. I think he earned the right now, and we’ll keep working with him on our sub team.”
Was it good to see young guys like him getting snaps?
“Oh yeah. And a guy that had a very good game, and just emulates and shows exactly what we preach, was the fumble recovery. That was Chris Wormley coming from the far back side on a play all the way over to their sideline. You’re 288 pounds and your’e a freshman. You don’t see a lot of guys doing that. I was really excited about that, because it showed that he believes running to the football, and he believes that when he’s in there, he’s going to go as hard as he can go, and all of a sudden good things happen when he does that. We just have to keep that going.”
Do you have to tell your guys to play better defense because your offense is struggling?
“Not at all. Our offense will do a great job. We’re a team totally. All I ever tell our guys, and I’ll never say, ‘Hey boy, you better stop them or we won’t have a chance.’ Not with our offense and the guys that coach our offense. Never. Our message to our team before the game is you are accountable to every other guy in that defensive room. So when that film comes on, make sure that when the guy sitting next to you looks at you, he says, ‘Boy, he’s going hard.’ Make sure you’re honest with yourself. When you look at that film, how many plays you’re in – three, four, five in a row – that all five of those are as hard as you can go and you’re trying to do the best you can do. When you can do that, you don’t care about the scoreboard. You just play the best you can play. I was proud of our guys for doing that. It isn’t about offense [vs] defense. Throughout the years, the offense has bailed us out a number of times. It’s about a team, it’s about all of us getting better. This is a young team … now we just have to get a win.”
The fourth and two where the corners were playing soft …
“The fourth and two. I wish in a game, and that’s what coaching is – had I known, if I would have seen what I saw on film, I would have taken a time out right there. We were in a man coverage, and we got two young guys, and they weren’t as in tight coverage as they should have been. And I’ll put that on me. That’s something where you’re dealing with young guys in a situation like that, I should have gone to Brady and [called time out]. With young guys, you can’t assume in the heat of the game like that, they’re always going to line up perfectly. If that would have happened again, you would see me calling a time out. Yeah, we didn’t play the technique right, we didn’t align like we were coached to align, but I could have called a time out right there, too. Who knows? We could have been off the field right there.”
Could the safeties have corrected them?
“They’re behind them. You’ve got two corners that are standing all the way out there. [The safeties] aren’t looking at that guy. That’s something that’s coached and they’ve done it over and over. We’ve had that situation 15 times this camp. Again, that’s maybe where I could have called time out. That’s something I wish I would have done.”
Your freshmen corners have been beaten over the top a couple times this season. Was part of their soft coverage due to residual fear or lack of confidence?
“No I don’t think there’s any fear factor there or lack of confidence. The other thing that goes with that, it’s a hurry hurry offense. When you’re a young guys, you have to talk to yourself about, ‘Get aligned perfectly, Okay, this is what’s going to happen. Okay, this is my key.’ In that situation, when you’re 17 or 18 years old and haven’t had it live under the fire, you don’t know. Hopefully, the next time that happens, I don’t think you’ll see him do that. It’s a shame it was a fourth and two. [If I could have called time out], maybe we could have addressed that.”