What do you say to Devin Bush when he gets caught retaliating after something that happened? Just you still can’t do that?
“Yeah, control your emotions. I mean, that’s unacceptable no matter what happens prior or what your frustrations are. You can’t do that. You can’t hurt the team like that, and he’s going to have to deal with that. He’s a phenomenal player and teams are going to try to do stuff to antagonize him. It’s a growing process in maturity. It’s unacceptable.”
Going up against Patrick Ramsey, the new quarterback at Indiana, what challenges do you see from Indiana’s offense?
“They’re very well coached. They do some good things to put you in binds. The quarterback can run, he can throw it. You’ve got big receivers on the outside. The running backs run hard. The line, they get after it. They obviously have a tempo to their offense where they’re going to hurry-hurry you. I mean, there’s a lot of challenges there.”
I guess Michigan State sent film in of Devin. Is that a concern? Do you talk to him about things like that?
“No, we just play football. Not going to get into them sending film. The officials are going to officiate the game. We’re going to play football and tackle like we tackle and it’s to keep our head out of it, that’s what we teach. But I’m not going to get into what they’re going to decide to do after the game.”
Your thoughts on how your group played in that game?
“You’re talking linebackers?”
“Um… I mean, we didn’t so… I don’t know. I mean, we were okay. Not our best performance, but, again, didn’t do things to win the game either. Think we’ve got to continue to get better week in and week out.”
[After THE JUMP: linebackers coming on recently, DPJ’s development, and hang time oh glorious hang time]
What does Ambry Thomas give you as a kick returner?
“Yeah, Ambry’s ready. He’s ready to go back there now. He’s explosive, he’s fast, he’s fearless. Really excited about him.”
Is there anything they did that you noticed to account for the lower numbers of sacks and tackles for loss Saturday?
“Well, yeah. Obviously hats off, they had a good gameplan. And in terms of their max protections, they got the ball out quick. I think it’s something where you can do things to limit that number of stuff and they did it. Again, we left some out there as well.”
Who’s playing behind Devin right now?
“You’ve got Mike Wroblewski, who is a tremendous fifth-year guy, and Elyse Mbem-Bosse, who’s another guy coming up really, really strong.”
Talk about him a little bit Elysse Mbem-Bosse, and what he’s been doing.
“He’s just practiced really well throughout camp. He’s getting really good with his hands and his feet. He’s learning the game. I mean, he was kind of a young player coming out of high school where he only had played a couple of years, had only played two at the linebacker position, so he had some learning curves. He’s developing and he’s getting to the point where we feel comfortable with him if he’s got to go in the game.”
As heavily involved in the recruiting aspect as you are, how do you divvy up your time, your commitments between coaching and recruiting?
“I just work as long as I have to as much as I have to. You just do it. You just get it done. It is what it is. Sometimes it’s early, early mornings and late nights but you’ve got to just get it done, figure it out. Time management: try to schedule calls with the guys, with the recruits and things like that rather than just freelance it because it can take up some of your time. You figure out how to get it done. There’s enough hours in the day.”
Saw a little of Devin Gil in the first game and haven’t seen him much since. Can you talk about his progress a little bit?
“Yeah, Devin, he’s doing really well. He’s practicing and he’s just kind of behind a fifth-year senior who’s been able to play and you want him in there, obviously. Devin is another guy who has come on really well in practice and is a guy that we wouldn’t be scared to plug him in if need be?”
Have you guys been pretty happy with Brad Robbins so far?
“Yeah. He’s really doing what we’re asking him to do. Think sky’s the limit there, too. He’s got to get better, but he’s progressing nicely and we’re going to see. We feel we’re getting more confident in that unit so we like what we see out of him, but he’s got to push, too. He had some miscues as well. But we like what we see out of him, for sure.”
How far has Peoples-Jones come on punt return and being aware of his surroundings since that Cincinnati game?
“He’s progressing every single day. He’s a guy who we’re obviously going to stay on and coach every second but he’s out there and he’s getting more comfortable back there for sure. Still some things that he can do a little bit better to help us out but he’s really, really exciting. You haven’t seen the last of him in the end zone. He’s getting more comfortable back there and I think we’ll have some big plays out of him going forward.”
J-Shun Harris has a couple of punt return touchdowns for Indiana this year. Is there anything that you guys do differently to keep him at bay?
“I think you’ve got to—yeah, Brad [Robbins] is going to be a big part of locating the punts really well and then we’ve got to cover. Our gunners have been fantastic and we’ve got to keep that going, keep that going. Ambry came on last game with his speed getting down there, so I think our gunners are important to us. Our overall coverage net is important to us. We’re just working what we’ve been doing since camp and having the punter end up [?] for sure but they’re explosive, and their kick returner too is explosive. We’re going to have to do a good job there.”
Going back to Donovan, what are his strongest assets as a returner and how does that go hand in hand with him developing as a receiver?
“Yeah, great question. That’s good. So, as a returner, he’s fearless back there. He wants the ball in his hands. He’s got a great ability to track it and then he can make one or two miss. You know as a returner you’ve got to make one or two miss. It’s not like you can block all of ‘em up, especially in college football where everyone’s covering. So he’s got that ability, and he’s big. He can run through those tackles. He’s fast, so he can break it open when he makes ‘em miss.
“I think it translates as a receiver, too. It’s the same qualities that you want. He’s a guy who can catch the ball on a short route and take it all the way by making a guy miss and outrunning people. He tracks the ball, so deep balls are something that he can do as well. They definitely translate.”
On kick return, does the blocking need to be better? Is it a combination of things right now?
“Yeah, I mean, the blocking always needs to be better. Yes, 100%. That being said, we should have broke a kick return. We had something there and we should have had one in the game and it was frustrating but we’ve got to continue to get better.
“Kick return is like one block. You’ve got to have 10 guys blocking everyone but if one guy misses or one guy takes a bad angle or they do something on kickoff and switch it and you don’t switch correctly, then that guy makes the tackle. That’s what happened in the game. We had one miscue and it affected us from seaming one and taking one through. Again, you’ve got to get cohesive. You have to have some experience there to do that, and we feel we have the right returners in place now. So, again, still, we’re close there. We’ve just kind of got to get some confidence and get it rolling.”
MGoQuestion: How have you seen James Foug develop during his time here?
“I mean, he’s developed tremendously. He’s a hard worker, great leg, has a great attitude to it. He’s a guy who last year was just behind Kenny [Allen]. And it was close, but we had the experience with Kenny so we went with him but James is having a great year this year and he’s doing a great job putting that ball up high and giving our kickoff team a nice advantage there, so hopefully it continues as the season goes on.”
Have you ever seen a guy with the kind of hang time he gets on those?
“No, no. It’s pretty impressive. It is. It’s good that he can do that and it’s something that he really, really worked hard on over the summer and kind of has perfected it.”
Josh Uche: can you talk about his progress a little bit?
“Yeah, would love to. Really love Josh. He’s a guy who played off the edge a lot in terms of in high school and when he came in had to get used to standing on his feet but he’s done that and he’s running around, he’s making plays. He’s getting us really excited every single day. I think he’s on the brink of providing a spark for us in certain things, so we’re excited about him. And he’s a guy, too, that you just love him. He’s in here every single day trying to get extra work in, extra film in. He’s earned every second, but he’s a guy that’s progressing rapidly.”
Has he settled at one position?
“Yeah, he’s—he could play a couple different things, but yeah, he’s for the most part settled. He’s settled into that Sam spot.”