- Drew Dileo and Keith Heitzman will be back Saturday. Brennen Beyer will start at SDE.
- AJ Williams will "be in the lineup."
- De'Veon Smith's demotion was to send a message. Still has a chance to earn his way back into the depth chart.
“Had a good practice yesterday. We expect it with the way this group has been. Most Tuesdays have been very good. It was good. The energy was good. The enthusiasm for the game of football was good. And in terms of preparation we got a lot done.”
Devin’s status physically? Has his leadership been tested?
“Oh I think all the leadership is always tested when you have adversity. He did a great job yesterday. Sore? Yeah. But every guy in the game of football across America who’s playing is going to be sore. He went out and attacked the day.”
Were there any lessons for him from last week?
“I think there’s always lessons. For him, maybe there’s some fundamental lessons when you look at technique that he can take home and learn from. I think leadership-wise I think there’s always those things we can build on ... I would think he keeps growing as a quarterback. That’s part of it. Being in those pressurized situations, made some awfully good throws. Obviously the Nascar series at the end of the game, late, showed a lot. He got them up even though he got him – he kept moving.”
Greg Mattison said Ameer Abdullah is the best running back you’ll face all year. What’s special about him?
“The kid’s a special athlete. He’s got good burst, good balance, can make you miss in the hole. I think the other part of it, traditionally, is their offensive lines have been pretty stout, pretty strong at the line of scrimmage. I think they’ve given him a chance to get runs started. I think his natural abilities, vision, jump cuts, all those things take over.”
Status of Keith Heitzman and Drew Dileo?
“Yeah they both practiced yesterday and they’ll both play Saturday.”
Who will start at SDE?
“I think Brennen [Beyer] will start the game, and Heitzman and [Chris] Wormley, I think we’ve got three guys in there that we like.”
How are the backups?
“Good. I think Tommy [Strobel] was set back. He had a little bit of burner that set him back a while. I think Matt [Godin] is coming along. I think he’s getting better. I like some of the physical things that he’s doing.”
How are your younger offensive linemen progressing?
“I think that group is a pretty good group. Logan [Tuley-Tillman], as he continues to get better as an offensive tackle [in terms of] football shape, strength, and all that because he’s a very good athlete. [Patrick] Kugler is a very smart football player. I think it runs in the family a little bit. His brother’s a center at Purdue, and his father is the head coach at El Paso. Those guys, I think, all are doing a nice job.”
How is Ben Braden coming along? Do you think he’s better suited to tackle than guard?
“Well I think Ben’s had really a good last four weeks. When you ask how he’s going along, I think he’s improving. I think he’s handling the communication at the line of scrimmage, getting into one protection and out of another one, all those things. From a body standpoint at the tackle position, it’s where he’ll end up at the end of the day, but we’ll work him in at guard, too.”
Do you do anything to stress the importance of playing well on the road?
“You know, I do about the consistency that we want to have. We’ve done a lot of different things when we’ve gone on the road depending on the time of the game. With a young football team, we’re going by stadiums and showing them the locker room. And we’ll do the same thing at Northwestern so they get an idea of here’s our bench, how close the people are. Here we obviously know our surroundings pretty well.”
Do you feel that the familiarity plays a role in your success here?
“I think if you take any team, if you look at their home wins compared to the away wins over the course of time, home is usually the better place.”
How are they doing making checks on the line?
“Doing good. I think Devin does a pretty good job. He identifies. Graham keeps growing, keeps getting better.”
How is Graham progressing?
“I think it is. Darryl would tell you the same thing.”
Are you going to try to give Derrick Green more snaps?
“Hope so. Him and De’Veon are both guys we’d like to get a little more work with.”
Did you see a different Devin emerge from that game?
“Yeah I think he learned. I think he grew … He took some shots, he got up, on the sideline he was great. He was encouraging guys and those kinds of things.”
When did you make the decision to take him out of the game?
“I think it was more after the last score. Let’s get Shane [Morris] some reps in that environment and see how he operates.”
How important is that for a young player’s development?
“I think it’s great. We’re going to be up there next year again. So that’s awesome for all those guys. The three freshmen on the inside. That’s got to be great for them.”
You mentioned De’Veon Smith. Does he have an opportunity to earn a higher spot on the depth chart?
“He’s got a chance to. Yeah.”
Has he responded to getting taken off the travel squad?
Was that to send a message?
Al said yesterday that rebounding after losses starts with the head coach …
“I’ve always believed with young people that this may be the only consistent discipline thing that some of them have ever in their lives. For us to be consistent with how we act and how we react to different situations or whatever it is or the schedule, how you want to do things. I think that’s important. We want to do everything perfectly, and that’s what it is.”
What are the hardest things Devin Funchess has to grasp in order to be a really good wide receiver?
“One of the hardest things is when you start identifying in the run game who are you going to block? With coverages changing, with some people disguising what they’re doing, especially when you start looking at the read plays and those kinds of things, who he’s going to block. Is he going to bypass the read key, all those things.”
How’s Taco Charlton progressing?
“Okay. Making progress. Day by day making progress.”
What does he need to improve?
“I think it’s a lot of different things. How you react to visual keys. He’s used to, like most of those guys in high school, just running up the field. Style of offense you play, they change week to week. Your mindset, your mentality, what you learn is a little different.”
How has AJ Williams responded? Will he start?
“Good. He should be in the lineup.”
You mentioned De’Veon Smith. What is his running style?
“He’s a little more of a slicer. He’s a little more like Drake [Johnson]. He’s very much a downhill, physical guy. Has good balance. Has similarities that him and Derrick have, but there’s enough different physical traits that they have that make them different.”
Has Russell Bellomy been able to do anything in practice?
“No. Not yet. He does a little bit of what we do on Sundays, and the rest of the time is rehab.”