- Both Denard and Russell Bellomy are day to day. Hoke doesn't want to comment on it, so don't ask or he'll get mad at you.
- All's quiet on the Devin Gardner redshirt front.
- Mario Ojemudia is not 100%, still limited in practice. My guess is he probably won't play Saturday.
- Jeremy Gallon is "good." My guess is he probably will play on Saturday.
- Joey Burzynski and Jack Miller have taken reps with the ones this week. If they do get shuffled into the offensive line rotation, that decision will be made after tomorrow's practice.
From the mixed up files of Dr. Basil E. Heikoyang
“It was a good practice, and I think it’s been like that most of the year. I think we had really good energy. We had good tempo. I think our team -- I know our team understands we’re playing an awfully good team this week. They’re very difficult in some ways to defend from an offensive perspective. Their playmakers on both sides of the ball with Mark and Colter, and Siemian throws the ball awfully well. They have a group of receivers that play the ball well in the air. I think they run after the catch very well. When you look at the big plays they’ve had defensively, they’ve had 20 plus runs. I think they have 12 touchdowns of them. And then throwing the ball, they’ve had a number of those they’ve done a good job with. And then defensively you look at them and, you know, Mike Hankwitz, who played here, the coordinator, does a tremendous job from a defensive perspective. Sound, disciplined, run to the ball, all the things you want to see a defense do. We’ve got our work cut out for us.
“Regarding our two quarterbacks, I’m not going to talk about it as far as what’s going on with Russell and Denard because it’s day to day and in fairness to those kids, I’m not going to give day to day updates. So that’s where that’s at.”
If you had to play today, which quarterback --
“I’m not going to give day to day updates.”
Right. I’m not asking about Denard or Russell, I’m just asking who would start today if you had to play.
“I’m not giving a day to day update on it.”
What do you do this time of the year to balance being physical in practice and keeping guys healthy?
“We’ve had a tendency to be physical, and that’s one of the things you like, you know, when you see how we practiced yesterday. You never know what you’re going to get to some degree just because I think you practice -- we start TTO [Ed: Taking time off? Taking time outs? Trinidad and Tobago?] if formationally we don’t come out right, if we don’t check a defense right, you kind of -- we’re not doing the things we should do as far as having the energy from the mental standpoint and that, but we’ll try and back down some. This is week … What week is it?”
“10? Week 10. You know, there’s some things that you fundamentally, you always don’t want to get strayed too far away from that work. So that’s part of it. You get to the fundamentals. How much individual time? That usually hurts a little bit because it’s more team time now, but we’re pretty physical.”
Is Devin practicing exclusively at quarterback this week?
Are there things you can do differently with Devin because of his height and arm that may be different than what you do with Denard?
“That’s a good question. The offense hasn’t changed much. I mean, we were a little bit more under center with Devin, you know, with play action things we like and some of the run schemes out of the I-back set we like. I don’t think there’s really any -- when you look at call sheets, in my mind right now there’s not really anything different.”
MGoQuestion: Are you happy with the progress of the interior offensive line this week? How do they feel about themselves at this point?
“Well, I think we had a good day yesterday. I’m anxious to see what kind of day we have today, the consistency. Because it’s the same thing. You play gamewise, you have to have a consistency from week to week. All that has to start day to day. If we can stack another good one together, the physicalness we play with, the execution we play with, the technique we play with, then that’s a good thing.”
Are the guys with season-ending injuries progressing as well as you had hoped?
“Yeah. I think all of them, I know they feel better. They’re making progress. Are they doing much besides the weight room and alternate conditioning and sitting in the meeting rooms and absorb all they can? Because some of them are true freshmen. A guy like Chris Wormley, he’s trying to absorb all he can from that standpoint, but they’re healing up.”
Do you anticipate getting them back for spring ball or is it too soon to say?
“I think it’s too soon to say. I think some could be limited contact, some would be no contact, that kind of thing.”
How’s Blake Countess doing?
“Good. Tells me every day he’s doing good. They all miss being out there, and that’s one thing that’s always hard and it’s hard for them and hard for you as a coach because you know how disappointed they are, but the more they’re involved in meetings and everything, the better off their mindset is. But Blake, I think he’s doing his part coaching up guys and being supportive.”
J.T. Floyd said that Blake has gotten better from a mental standpoint by participating in the film sessions. Is that something you’ve picked up on?
“Yeah. Yeah I think so. And Blake’s that kind of guy.”
Have you figured out more on Gardner and his redshirt situation yet?
“No, not yet.”
Your defense has been pretty good at limiting big plays since you’ve gotten here…
[Knock knock knock]
What do you attribute that to?
“Well I think the emphasis that Coach Mattison and the defensive staff put on it about taking care of your responsibility, playing good discipline with your eyes is a big part of it. That’s something that we have to continue to do, and hopefully we do this weekend.”
Is Ojemudia getting ready to play Saturday?
“He’s getting closer. He did some things yesterday. Is he 100%? No, but he’s made some progress.”
“Jeremy will be good.”
Who would have been your backup quarterback against Minnesota?
“Uh … It would have been Jack [Kennedy].”
You knew Pat Fitzgerald when he was a player.
Does having a guy so entrenched on the defensive side of the ball change the mindset of a team when that guy is the head coach?
“Uh, I would think from that standpoint, the kind of player he was, the respect that he commanded as a player and how hard he played. I’m sure Pat doesn’t remind his guys about that, but I think there’s enough in the Northwestern community that they’ve heard that that guy was pretty good. But yeah, I do remember him. Not happily.”
MGoQuestion: You’ve been unretiring jerseys all season. Do you make the decisions at the beginning of the season or do you make them as you go? [Ed: Ambiguous question, sorry. Hopefully Hoke knew that I was asking about which players are receiving the jerseys and not which jerseys get unretired. D’oh.]
“Before the season started.”
Are you stepping up the competition at punter?
“Yeah. We can, you know, but at the same time -- yes. The answer is yes. We can change that at any time. That’s why we’ve been competing all week, yes. I think in Will’s defense a little bit, I think he worried a little bit about the rush, and that’s one thing you can’t do. Like a quarterack, you can’t worry about the rush. You worry about what you can control. I think probably a lesson learned to some degree.”
Was Minnesota’s punt rush particularly aggressive?
“Well, no. Was it aggressive? Yes, because there was an overload on one side. It was picked up, but I think sometimes when guys are a little closer than you’re normally feeling, I think that has a tendency to rush you a little bit.”
A lot of players talked about the instant credibility Greg Mattison brought. What does he do in practice that makes you maybe take a step back and feel amazed?
“You know, I’m not surprised at anything that Matty does. I’ve known him so long and coached with him for eight years now. Nine years now. He’s a great teacher of the game, and he’s a guy who preparation-wise is second to none in my opinion in how he looks at an opposing offense and how you take those breakdowns and have the ability to communicate it to your players where they understand it. Not what we know, it’s what they know, and he does a tremendous job of that.”
It looks like he’s never satisfied with anything.
“I like that, too, because you can’t be satisfied. If you’re satisfied, then you’re getting passed by.”
Is he ever pleased?
“No. You better ask him that, but no.”
We hear about you and him both calling out plays from the sideline. How much time do both of you put into game preparation and watching film?
“Well, obviously I think Greg gets a lot more film than I do. And that whole staff and on both sides of the ball. Those guys all do a good job with what they need to break down, look at, whatever. I think that comes with being seasoned, which is another word for old, but you’ve seen a lot.”
How has the offensive line responded this week, and are you still looking at inserting guys?
“I think that’s always part of it, but I thought yesterday they were very consistent and very physical. You heard me say the term ‘hearing football.” I heard a lot of football yesterday, which was a good thing.”
Had you not been hearing it from them previously?
“No. No. They’ve practiced hard. I just think we’ve got to make sure consistently stacking them together is important.”
If they have been consistent previously, why hasn’t that translated to games?
“I wish I had that magic pill [knock knock knock knock]. I wish I did, because I can’t tell [knock] you [knock]. I [knock knock knock] really can’t [knock] tell [knock] you. Sometimes it’s just [knock] number one [knock] give the opponent some credit [knock knock] and who those student atheltes are [knock], and the other part of it is continuing and finishing the preparation that mentally you need to have.”
You said earlier you were contemplating personnel changes with Joey Burzynski and Jack Miller. Is that still something you’re doing?
“Those guys have gotten some reps with the ones some, but we’ll see. I can’t tell you until we finish, and we don’t really finish until Thursday, where everybody’s at from a mental standpoint.”
When you’re measuring the progress of the offensive line in practice, do you measure it based on the productivity of the running backs, too?
“That’s a big part of it. We do so much ones on ones and twos on twos, you’re getting pretty good competition. That’s part of it. If there’s a little more space for a back or the hole is supposed to be or the back doesn’t have to make some great play even though you expect that out of them.”
Do you find the holes lacking in games?
“Well I think there’s times. To be honest with you, it’s everybody, and it’s not just them. If the safeties are getting down there tight then you can’t get the cracks and you have to chagne the scheme a little bit. You can’t keep the eighth guy out of the box. Maybe a back, which we expect, doesn’t beat the eighth guy. There’s a lot of different things that go in when you get 11 guys out there.”
Would you call this offense a tailback-by-committee situation right now? Are you disappointed that one guy hasn’t really stepped up?
“I think when you have a guy step up, I think everybody says they’re happy about it. When you’re running a few guys through and they’re being productive, it’s a good deal.”
Thoughts on the Arkansas home and home?
“I think it’ll be fun.”
Are you looking to do more of that kind of deal?
“To me, and depending on how the BCS formula and all that -- I think it’s important to play, um, some … marquee games. I guess that’s the best word”
Ever been to Arkansas?
“Uh, I drove through it once at about three in the morning.”
What did you mean when you told Devin to be himself before the game last Saturday? What or who is Devin?
“How do I characterize him?”
Teammates call him goofy and a clown …
“Well he can be. He can be. He’s got a sense of humor to him, which is, you know, okay. But there’s always a time and a place for that. When I told him to just be himself, part of that message is there’s 10 other guys out there. You don’t have to do it all. I think that’s always an important message to every guy on the team.”
Devin’s not cerebral?
“I don’t know what that means.”