- Anthony Capatino is running the scout team at quarterback, but they still go against Denard like they usually do.
- Joe Reynolds is not just a blocking receiver.
- Stephen Hopkins has been available for the last two weeks but hasn't played. Kerridge appears to have usurped his spot on the depth chart.
- Re: Not resetting the clock after review, the Big Ten didn't see an issue with it.
“Very physical football game we’re going to play. Tough environment. Good practice yesterday. Have to finish that up with a good work day today. They present some problems with the dual threat of the quarterback and his improvement -- I think he’s 67 percent or so completions -- stable of running backs that do a nice job within their offense, and executing defensively. Negative plays. That’s something that they’ve been very good at to sacks and tackles for loss, try and get you off schedule that way. I think for us, the environment, we have to handle that. I think we’ve been in enough of those situations and mature enough to do that, but we can’t have any confusion at the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. Confusion in the huddle or those things, so it takes a real focus and concentration to be able to do that.”
You mentioned confusion in the huddle. Looked like there was some of that last Saturday …
“We have gotten late in personnel a couple times. It all depends. I mean, some of it is situationally what you want to get in as far as personnel groups and making sure everybody’s on the same page. We had a lot of personnel groups because of the skillsets of certain guys. And that changes you. For the most part, Fred’s done a really good job -- him and Bryan Wright [Ed: Not that Bryan Wright] -- of getting guys in.”
Does Nebraska present the most complete offensive unit you’ve gone against this season?
“I don’t know. Statistically, they’re as good as anybody in the league or better than anybody in the league, points and all that. I don’t know. I think Alabama’s pretty complete. I think Air Force is pretty complete in what they do. I think Purdue, they have skill. They have a scheme they believe in that’s pretty good, so statistically, yeah. You would look at it that way, but from a standpoint, the most? I don’t know. That’s a strong word.”
Greg said their offense is very similar to yours. In what ways are they different?
“I think they’ve probably been -- the difference right now is a little more the two-back sets that they’ve run. The power, the iso, the lead play. A little more probably unbalanced bingo formation to sideline formations. The ride play and the jet and those things are similar. Some of the play actions are very similar.”
Will Denard be your scout team quarterback?
“Well, no. I mean, we always go against him every day. We’ve seen a lot of it over the course of the year.”
Who ends up being the scout team quarterback in this situation?
“Cappuccino. Anthony … it’s not Cappuccino. Capatina. Heh. It’s just easy ... He did a good job yesterday with it. Joe Reynolds, what Joe did at Air Force -- Joe’s getting more time on offense. Cap did a pretty good job yesterday.”
Joe Reynolds got a pretty good block on the long Toussaint run. What have you seen from him?
“Well I think his hard work. I mean, every day he’s probably the first one here and the last one to leave. Knowing what the plan is, and he has a great desire and a love to play football. That was pretty evident since day one. You love to see guys like that who worked hard and [it’s] paying off for him.”
Is he in there primarily as a blocking receiver?
“I don’t know if that’s a fair assessment. Maybe the ball is not going there. We don’t do that a whole lot. This guy’s in to block. I mean, to be honest with you, you’ve got some leeway a little bit with Funchess because he can do a lot of both. But we don’t -- that’s when you start getting into problems with substitutions.”
MGoQuestion: You’ve said Hopkins has been available the last two weeks, but he hasn’t really played. Is that because Joe Kerridge has been outcompeting him at fullback?
“I think Joe’s had a pretty daggone good stretch here. He’s practiced well. You look at the iso’s and some of the things that he’s doing in practice, and then when he gets out there on the field. That’s a big part of it.”
Have defenses been playing Funchess differently over the last few weeks?
“I can’t say that they’re playing him differently, but they do know and recognize when he’s in the game.”
What does he have to do to adjust to that?
“Well, I would say run better routes and all those things. Fundamentals and technique.”
Al talked about the conservative game plan against Michigan State. How often does the game plan change week to week?
“It changes dramatically from a formational standpoint depending on who you’re playing and what they want to do. We threw the ball 29 times. I wouldn’t say that’s real conservative in my opinion. I mean, maybe for Al, that may be conservative. And it probably is. We’ve got to do whatever we can so that we can win a football game, so whatever it takes, if we’ve got to throw it and we win, so be it. We are a team that wants to run the football.”
Does it vary on the road vs. at home or does it have to do more with the opponent?
“I think the road, there’s a lot of things you always have to look at, and that’s part of it. If you’ve studied football and management of football, that’s always been one thing that most coaches will talk about is taking the crowd out by being able to run the football and move the chains that way. But however we can move them, we want to try and move them.”
When it comes to offensive game planning, how much input do you have?
“I meet with Al twice a week. We talk about what he sees and why you would do this or why you would do that. We have our discussions, and I do the same thing with Greg. I’m in with Greg most of the time just because that’s -- I coach the two guys inside. I have to be there. He’ll fire me.”
MGoQuestion: Was the decision to take the audibles out of the game mostly from you?
“We wanted to make sure that we were doing the things we wanted to do without them dictating too much that we wanted to make checks. Does that make sense? Because sometimes they’ll talk you into checking by giving you two high, one high, different looks, and get out of it. There’s some down and distance tendencies at times that you don’t want to go to your other check because they’re not going to do what you think they’re going to do. Does that make sense?
MGoFollowup: Yeah. Was that something unique to their defense?
“No. You’ll find people do that. There are some people who disguise very well and they’ll change in and out of looks very well. I think they’re one of the better ones, which at times can work out for you if you don’t check, and that’s why we did it obviously.”
What was the explanation from the Big Ten about the clock situation?
“They thought it was fine. They thought everything was fine. They said, ‘You were out there, you could have run the ball.’ He was right. And we didn’t. They’re the ones who study it and look at it. We study it and look at it but not like they do. I think Bill Carolo, who’s the guy that’s the director of those guys, I think he does a nice job with them.”
Do you feel like you have a little more freedom in terms of diversifying the offensive game plan compared with last year?
“You mean as an offense in general? You see a lot of the same plays. But maybe formationally and personnel groups may be different, and that’s where the diversity comes in.”
In a typical week, how much freedom does Denard have to audible?
“Oh I don’t know. I can’t give you a percentage on that.”
Does he have the freedom to do so?
“There’s certain looks that we want to run certain plays to the other sides or run pass or run run.”
Are you going to leave Denard out on kickoffs?
“Could. Yeah, we could do that. It’s not a bad idea.”
Would you like my opinion on that?
“Not really. Would you like mine?
Fitz’s numbers are down this season. Do you find that defenses are keying on him more?
“Well I think any guy, when they have a decent year or whatever it might be, I think you’ve got people’s attention a little more. Are they keying on him specifically all the time? No. And that’s why you change personnel groups and you change formations and you change plays, try and get leverage on people. At times we’ve had it and at times we haven’t blocked it as well as you’d like. I would say that he’s coming into