Iowa City, IA - - The Iowa Hawkeyes ( 4-1, 1-0 B1G West) will host the Indiana Hoosiers (3-2, 0-1 B1G East) on Saturday, as they host their Homecoming Game, at Historic Kinnick Stadium. The 11:00 a.m. game will be televised by ESPNU.
The Hawkeyes have a 7-3 record, since 2001 in this series, 4-1 at home. Indiana won the last meeting in a 24-21game in Bloomington, in 2012.
It was the last back to back wins for the Hoosiers, in defeating Iowa, in 2012. The Hawkeyes have won back to back games, before enjoying their first bye week of the season. Indiana has won, lost, won, lost and won to open 2014. So, can the Hoosiers finally win back to back games? The Hoosiers won last Saturday in Bloomington over North Texas.
Both teams coaches meet with the media, ahead of this Saturday's game in Iowa City. Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz is the dean of Big Ten coaches, in his 16th season. Indiana head coach Kevin Wilson is in his third season for the Hoosiers.
2-2 head to head Wilson vs. Ferentz
Wilson was on the staff at Northwestern for three years (1999-2001), with Iowa winning 2-of-3 meetings with the Wildcats in those seasons. Wilson leads the series 1-0, as a head coach.
The Hawkeyes are 9-5-1 against the Hoosiers on Homecoming, and 11-4 in Homecoming contests under Kirk Ferentz.
COACH FERENTZ: Captains are the same four guys, Louis Trinca-Pasat and Quinton Alston on defensive side of the ball and Brandon Scherff and Mark Weisman on offense. We're relatively healthy going into today, so we'll see how that looks once we get out on the field and start getting ready for a very good Indiana football team. We haven't played them for a couple of years here. They're playing very well right now, and had a real big win on the road a couple weeks ago over in Columbia. So they moved the football well, playing standard on defense, good on special teams, and we'll turn our attention to them this afternoon.
Iowa needed a bye week, after three key contributors on offense missed the Purdue game to close out September. Iowa won their third straight Big Ten road opener, with a 24-10 win at Purdue.
Q. RB Damon Bullock and WR Matt VandeBerg, those were the two guys that missed Purdue. Where are they at?
COACH FERENTZ: Matt practiced on Sunday, seemed pretty good. Damon is supposed to practice today, so we'll see how it looks this week.
Q. Is #1 QB Jake Rudock ready to go?
COACH FERENTZ: Yeah, I think so. He looked good.
Iowa is allowing 18.7 ppg at Kinnick Stadium (2-1). Indiana is averaging 36.5 ppg on the road (1-1). The Hoosiers allow 36.0 ppg on the road. Iowa averages 21.7 ppg at home. The Hawkeye offense is off to a slow start in 2014.
Q. Where do you see concerns with the offense? Not running the ball as well as you like?
COACH FERENTZ: Not as well as we like. We're not scoring as many points as we like, so that's a work in progress. We'll just keep banging away here.
Iowa plans to utilize two quarterbacks vs. Indiana, with Rudock healthy and after #2 QB C.J. Beathard's performance the past game and a half.
Q. What is the biggest challenge to trying to incorporate two quarterbacks in an already struggling offense?
COACH FERENTZ: We'll find out, I guess. We're not even sure what the plan is right now totally. Bottom line we've got two guys that we feel good about. Sound like a broken record on this one. Both guys have played well. Jake's done a great job for us, and C.J., when called upon, has really played well too. We'll just try to figure out the best way to work it.
Q. Will you have a strict plan or do you just go by feel?
COACH FERENTZ: We'll have something by Saturday, for sure. But they're both going to play. We have total confidence in both guys.
Q. How long do you think you can do this legitimately?
COACH FERENTZ: Time will tell.
Q. One game, two games?
COACH FERENTZ: I don't know. Time will tell. We'll play it by ear.
In Big Ten games only, the Hawkeyes lead the conference in total defense (156.0), pass defense (72.0), and pass defense efficiency (47.0).
Q. The rotation on the defensive line, seems like you have some depth there?
COACH FERENTZ: It's coming. We're developing it and we feel like we have three starters legitimately. Mike Hardy has played very well for us going back to last year when we got called upon. So those three guys are certainly playing well. The inside guys were a little deeper there. We have Jaleel and Faith, and all of a sudden, Bazata, has done a great job. So we're going to need it this week because these guys run an awful lot of plays and a high tempo offense. We need to keep guys as fresh as we possibly can.
Ohio State won the Big Ten with a two quarterback attack in 1996, when the rotated Stanley Jackson and Joe Germaine. Can Iowa compete for a Big Ten West Division using the same strategy?
Q. How do you make your way or measure or even care about how a quarterback feels looking over his shoulder?
COACH FERENTZ: It's really hard to regulate anybody's feelings or monitor it. I'm not that smart. What we're worried about is moving the football and scoring points. I think both players are worried about that too. We have a pretty unselfish group of guys. We haven't played the best, but this is a fun group to work with. They've got a great attitude and they work extremely hard and care a lot about each other, so that is the least of my concern. The biggest thing is us moving the football and scoring points.
Iowa's quarterback duo of Jake Rudock (66.9) and C.J. Beathard (54.2) has combined for a 63.4 completion percentage, the second-highest percentage in the Big Ten.
Q. Could it boil down to just results?
COACH FERENTZ: Both guys to me have given good results when they've played. Both guys have played well. If they weren't, we wouldn't put them out in the field. We have confidence in both guys. If I had the answer, I'd tell you. We don't have it yet. We haven't gone down this road, but we're about to.
Q. Is there a reason teams don't do this very often and try to incorporate two quarterbacks? What concerns do you have in the design?
COACH FERENTZ: I'm guessing it's because most teams don't have two quarterbacks. Most teams I've been around haven't had them, at least at a given time. So we have a little bit of a unique situation and that's just where we're at today.
Q. Looking at the accolades of Jake Rudock. He played well last year and did a lot of good things. How much does that work to his advantage in his moving forward?
COACH FERENTZ: Every player to me has a resume, whether it be what they're doing on the field, their academic work, their citizenship, and we keep close track of that from start to finish, yet this is a results driven activity. So it's about what you're doing and what you're projected to do. But based on what you've done in the past helps predict those kinds of things. To me, Jake entered this season as a guy who played well a year ago. I think a lot of that has been diminished by people, at least if you hear the chatter. But he's done a lot of good things for us. The biggest thing is change. C.J.'s played well too. So we certainly have two guys who to me demonstrated some good things on the field. They have things to improve upon like all of us do. So, yeah, we're going to keep pushing forward. I've said many times I have total faith in Jake, and he's going to start the game unless something happens between now and Saturday.
Q. It seems like one of the perceptions is when C.J.'s in the offense is more exciting. Is that fair?
COACH FERENTZ: I'm not a good judge on what's fair or not. We try to look at it from our perspective and what we think it does for our football team moving forward. I think both guys have done a lot of good things, so I'm really pleased. If you want to talk about perception, just go back to the Pitt game, I've already made a point of that. But if you take those two long passes and flip them around, which basically they're the same play, they just had two different results, maybe that would change perception. That's where people, if you're not paying really close attention, maybe you would come to that conclusion. We look at those things. I could say we dropped five balls in the first half in our last ballgame. So C.J.'s numbers would have been spiked up there a little bit in the first half had we done a better job catching the football. But that's football. That's a team thing. Perception, catching the ball, running good routes, guys being on the same page, that's a pretty complex equation. Good news is I'm happy about both those guys.
Q. I know in practice you have two guys that want to play quarterback and enough reps where you feel like they're ready. Where's that at?
COACH FERENTZ: I feel fine about that too. Basically we have two groups that work during the course of the practice, and they just mix the reps up. It's really not a big deal. Our guys have been doing that for quite some time.
Q. What tells you these two guys can make this work?
COACH FERENTZ: We don't know if it will. We haven't gone down that road, so we're about to find out.
Q. Does Jake see more at the line because of his experience?
COACH FERENTZ: Yeah, you have to factor that into the equation also if you're going to be fair about things. There are things anybody that's played longer than another guy, a three year player versus a one year player, you'd like to think there are certain things they're going to do better. For a guy that hasn't played as much he's got to do some other things to give you a reason to give them a shot, and I'm talking about just in general terms of any player. Like Jonathan Parker. Jonathan Parker did some things in real life the other day that made me think we're on the right path with him, and I said that. But we also went through some real lows with him too and almost didn't survive a couple really critical plays that he was involved in. But we didn't put dirt on him. We just kept working with him and kept believing in him, and he's rewarded us a little bit, but we're not out of the woods there yet. He's still a young guy, just as an example. There are going to be some ups and downs with players.
Q. C.J. looks like he's progressed from last year?
COACH FERENTZ: I said in August I thought before camp and after camp that C.J. was a lot better player than he was a year ago. He's had more chances to play since then, not only practice, but play, so he is a better player than he was certainly last November.
Q. You've said before that the quarterback is a touchier position, how does that change things?
COACH FERENTZ: We'll see. I acknowledge that statement. Yeah, offensive coordinators, quarterbacks, head coaches, I'm not sure what the order is. I'm second or third, somewhere in there. Coordinator is the worst job, there is no doubt about that, for drawing opinions.
Q. Coach, how do you avoid a barn burner, if you will, with Indiana?
COACH FERENTZ: I'm hoping we can score too. And I appreciate the question about Indiana, too. They're a pretty good football team. If you're a fan, I don't mean you, but anybody paying attention last year, they were very close. They beat us two years ago. Really since Kevin has gotten there you can just see the improvement they've made. It started as a tough game for us in 2011 too. So they started playing hard back then. They weren't as talented in 2011, but they've been moving the ball and scoring points basically against anybody since that time, and last year they were that close to being a Bowl team. They're certainly on that path right now. And talking about signature wins and all that kind of thing. You have to get some traction from going down to Missouri a couple weeks ago and beating Missouri, and that wasn't a fluke win. That was two good teams playing really well. We're up against a very tough opponent. They're eighth in the country rushing the ball and have 300 yards a game rushing it. That's maybe a misconception about them is that they're a throwing team. They throw the ball really well, they run it well. They're tempo offense. They really make it tough and they're playing better on defense than they did a year ago, and that is the biggest difference right now with this football team.
Q. Just like you said, you think of them as a passing team, and they have a good running back now, are you seeing a different kind of personnel from them?
COACH FERENTZ: Yeah, the running back is excellent. You think beyond all three backs. They're all really good. Obviously, the running backs are second or third in the league right now. You look at their top guys and they're all pretty good players in the league. But whoever they put in when they rest them, the guys really run the same way. They're really tough. Their lines are veterans. They've got seven or eight guys that have started and played really well. They're strong, cohesive, very well coached. The quarterback does a great job, they have good receivers. They make you defend everything plus they have tempo on top of it.
Indiana co-defensive coordinator William Inge played DE for the Hawkeyes from 1993-96. The other co-defensive coordinator Brian Knoor just joined the Hoosiers staff this off-season, after three seasons at Wake Forest.
Q. What do you know about their defense?
COACH FERENTZ: The coach that they brought in, the coordinator they brought in Wake Forest, he was at Wake Forest for quite some time and through the Air Force family. So to me everything I'm seeing is they make you work for it, and they're playing really hard right now, the whole group. They play a lot of guys. Doesn't matter who is in there, they're playing hard and making you really work.
Iowa allows 93.2 rushing yards per game, No. 3 in the conference. The Hoosiers average 300.0 yards per game rushing, No. 3 in the conference.
Q. The running back had 13 carries of 40 yards plus. How do you do that? How do they do that?
COACH FERENTZ: They're an offensive scheme. They've done a great job. They've done that for quite some time. They've run the ball well and moved the ball well. He's tough to bring down.
Q. How do you keep a guy like that in between the hashes?
COACH FERENTZ: We'll find out. That's easier said than done. They do a lot of different things too. They'll run the inside stuff. They run outside option, pitch, they do all kinds of things. So it's a very diverse attack.
Q. How do you simulate that in practice?
COACH FERENTZ: That's always a challenge when you face the tempo of a team, number one. If you face an option team, we played Georgia Tech years ago, that was a challenge. At least we had a month there, but we don't have that kind of luxury this time. So it's very difficult. Certainly we don't have those kinds of players. If we did, they'd be with our ones or twos, so it's a real challenge.
Q. Can you take guys you've recruited for defense and move them to scout team?
COACH FERENTZ: No, I mean, not really. We have what we have out there. Our guys do a good job. But it's still not the same tempo. It's kind of like we played Pitt. It took a while for us in the game to get caught up to the way it was on the field, the game field.
Q. Did you try to recruit Coleman?
COACH FERENTZ: I can't remember. I don't know. I don't think so. I'm not aware of that. I think I'd remember that one.
Q. Can you describe his style?
COACH FERENTZ: Yeah, really tough and hard nosed. He's fast. He's quick. If you look at the top four guys in the Big Ten right now, they're all clipping along pretty well and they're all pretty good backs. I think they have one we recruited too, which is kind of interesting.
Iowa's young Linebackers
LB Quinton Alston, LB Bo Bower, and LB Reggie Spearman have started all five games this season at their respective linebacker positions. Entering this year, the trio combined for one career start (Alston). Against Iowa State, Alston and Spearman recorded career highs in tackles. Alston registered a game-high 10, while Spearman collected seven stops.
•The trio has accounted for 6.0 tackles for loss this season.
•Each player has recorded one sack.
•Alston has one forced fumble, while Bower has one of Iowa's five interceptions.
Q. Outside of Quinton you have some youth at linebacker, how do you see their progress?
COACH FERENTZ: Yeah, I think we're making progress. Josey was late to the game, late to the party a little bit. But he's been playing well on special teams. Two games in his first football experience, so it was really Reggie's first experience, and certainly Bo's, so I think all those guys are improving. I'm pleased right now. I think we have a lot of younger players moving along pretty quickly, Mabin, Jordan Lomax. So that's been positive. We'll keep those guys growing. If they do that, we'll get better as a football team.
Q. There are so many different types of fronts that your defense has shown which is different than it was a couple years before. What is the progression?
COACH FERENTZ: I don't know if it's that much different other than the Raider package. We used to call it Raider. I guess we still call it Raider. We do. It got created in the mid 2000s. So some things go away for a while and come back, and the blitz percentage goes up and down too. But it's a feel thing. You know, we hired Phil to be the coordinator. We've got total trust and faith in him, great input from the staff. Not everything we do works, but the things that do work are pretty calculated, well thought out and practiced. So far, so good. We've had our highs and lows. But I think we're improving right now.
Q. Is RB Jordan Canzeri close to being 100%?
COACH FERENTZ: I hope he is. And I agree with you, I just don't think he's been a 100% there all season, starting with camp. So for him to get back full speed would really help us. And hopefully he's feeling a little better now, but time will tell.
Q. How has the defense been? You could argue that they've kind of arrived quote unquote?
COACH FERENTZ: If you were standing next to me at Pitt with ten minutes left in the first half, I don't know if you'd make that observation or comment. That's what we're going to go through. There are going to be some highs and lows. We're playing a totally different style of attack right now. You know, Pittsburgh is one kind of run team. We're playing a running team that's very different. So every week is going to be a different adventure, and we have a lot of football games ahead of us. A wise man once said, once you arrive, there is only one direction and that's down. When you're coasting, you're not getting better, so we better not we have a lot of work to do. All you have to do is look at the films and we have a lot of work to do.
Q. How important was the bye week for everyone?
COACH FERENTZ: I've become a huge fan of bye weeks. I just think it gives you an opportunity to really step back and look at things a little bit and dissect a few things and try to just pinpoint a couple things that you want to focus on. The other part is it gives everybody a chance to adjust a little bit, especially the guys that have been playing a lot. That was a tough five week stretch post camp. Had some heat there the last couple games, so there was a good chance for guys to get back and get recharged hopefully a little bit. We'll see how we come out of it, but it's a good thing. I think it's a good thing. Watching everybody else sweat last Saturday was fun.
Q. Have you been noticing that while watching games around the league?
COACH FERENTZ: Yeah, the experts aren't as smart as they thought they were, I don't know. Good luck. For anybody that does Gamble, I advise them not to at any level, at least on sports. But there are a lot of good teams out there. I think the bottom line that's what makes college football so good. Anybody can beat anybody. Not anybody can beat anybody, but pretty much anybody can beat anybody. It's going to be interesting, like every year, to watch how things unfold.
Q. You started spring and summer with the idea of playing CJ in games, but he saw limited action, what kept him out of the plans before Jake got hurt?
COACH FERENTZ: Just a decision you make as you're going along. Then he kind of got thrust on the scene there. Had an injury, and that's how he got in last year as well. Basically we have a game and a half of evidence now as opposed to practice. He made a couple deposits at the bank, and that's a good thing.
Q. Are you where you need to be right now with field goals and punting?
COACH FERENTZ: No. At times, we're just not consistent. We're capable, I think, more capable. I wasn't sure where we were in field goal kicking early in the season, but I think we're making progress there. It's a matter of consistency I think, same thing with the punting game. I think our core guys are doing better. I'm happy with our core guys overall, but the specialist part, we've just got to level the playing field a little bit.
Q. You addressed this in the Big Ten teleconference, but I didn't hear. Regarding cameras in the locker room, you see it so much on NFL telecasts too now. You're not for it?
COACH FERENTZ: No.
Q. Why, and what do you think of it?
COACH FERENTZ: First thing I'll say is it's strictly a personal decision in my opinion. If it gets mandated, we'll do it. I think it is mandated in the NFL. I think it is. At least I always see cameras in people's locker rooms, the little bit I do see. If it's mandated, we'll do it. Otherwise, to me, not everything in life has to be public. That is probably one of the reasons I don't tweet or whatever else they do. But I don't think everything has to be public. Football is a pretty intimate deal, activity. So that's what makes it fun.
Q. I don't know if fight is the right word, but it seems there are a lot of forces pushing these days.
COACH FERENTZ: It's a whirlwind. We've put more stuff online than I would not online, but you know, the stuff we blast out, social media. But I get it. I understand why you have to do it. If somebody convinces me we have to do it to recruit, I'll probably retire.
Q. Fifteen years ago coaches were not interviewed at halftime, your thoughts on that?
COACH FERENTZ: I think it's really silly, typically. Really. I did have a chance to see a few of those this weekend. I can think of a game where I was asked what I thought of about the play or first touchdown, the 80 yarder went down their sideline and got their stadium to go totally crazy. What do you think I thought? That's just one that stands out. But I know everybody's got to get close and intimate. I get that.
Q. Do most head coaches prefer not to do that?
COACH FERENTZ: To do what?
Q. The halftime interview.
COACH FERENTZ: I would imagine that's probably unanimous. It's probably people agreeing about grandkids being great. Everyone votes for that one too. I would imagine it's probably about the same, neck and neck.
Q. Riley McCarron fair caught everything against Purdue, was that an instruction from you?
COACH FERENTZ: Hopefully we'll get that train moving a little bit. I think that's his first game out there, so we'll get that going a little bit.
Q. Do you want to do more in the punting game?
COACH FERENTZ: Yeah, we're not against that. We're not against returns. I am for fielding it, but returns after that.
Q. You were saying last year your main concern was protecting against the punt, you didn't want to get burned in other ways?
COACH FERENTZ: We were still safeguarding, but we could have gotten both done the other day. That's kind of the next step there in the progression. That was his first game out there. If I had the choice, field the ball. Don't let it roll, field the ball.
Q. Have you done any personnel changes or any movement on the depth chart in the bye week?
COACH FERENTZ: Yeah, we spent a lot of time talking about that Monday, talking about what we want to try to do to move forward and be a little more intelligent about how we're using guys. Hopefully in the next couple weeks we'll make some progress.
Now, we turn to IU coach Kevin Wilson, who opened his media conference, regarding Iowa with the following comments:
"Iowa coming in, very good as always; 4 and 1, one of the top teams in our conference, have been for years with Coach Ferentz. West division; some people think one of the premier teams that can win that division, and they're sitting undefeated with only one conference game. Sitting at 4 and 1 they've played a good schedule.
"Solid and strong as they always are. Legit on defense. They lost three great linebackers. They plugged three guys in, with their structure and defensive front, their coaching, hadn't missed a beat. Played really, really good defense.
"They've given up three touchdowns in 12 red zone opportunities, so 25 percent of the time, when you get in the scoring zone, you get a touchdown, and that's not a good formula on the road. Not scoring when you get an opportunity or kicking field goals is not something that wins on the road a lot in the lifetime of football. So that'll be a challenge for our offense.
"Offensively, as always, got a great offensive line, starting with their head coach and their line coach and their background. Always good. Maybe the premier player of our conference is their left tackle. So tremendous offensive line, awesome with the run game, and they stay with it.
"Their numbers aren't that good because they do it and people load up, but with that their passing -- you would come in saying we're the passing team and they're the running team, yet their passing statistics are way better than ours and our running statistics are way better than theirs. So it's kind of like our passing sets up the run; their running sets up our pass. Did a great job with their play-action game and their balance and what they do.
"They don't beat themselves; solid at the kicking game. If you play well, it'll be a dog fight. If not, you'll get your butt beat by a really good program. So great challenge. I know our guys are looking forward to it. Great chance to go on the road, we'll be playing at noon on ESPNU. Questions."
Q. On using tight ends in the passing game:
COACH WILSON: "Again, good point because you'd like to get them all. Of course, one was just a play-action pass, but we had a couple of opportunities, went to Anthony Corsaro. It's good to get him back. We've had a couple balls go at Michael Cooper and again, Fuchs is very athletic guy, and as a young player, if he and Simmie Cobbs will practice more consistently, they'll get on the field more, because all you do is watch practice, and you build trust as either the quarterback, the coaches. So as those young guys keep coming along --
"You get those guys on linebackers, but their defense knows it, too; meaning they know there's certain routes or concepts that you think have an advantage, but they also work to defend those.
"It was good execution. It was nice to go to them, but it was really nice to execute it and have a nice, what, third -- I think it was a fourth-down conversion to Anthony on a 4th and 6. It was just a play where he was the guy that had the leverage. It wasn't really trying to go to him, but based on coverage and structure, that was the matchup and you needed to go there."
Q. Iowa plays two quarterbacks. Do you prepare for both or is their style so similar it doesn't matter?
COACH WILSON: "It's not like one becomes the athletic zone read or one's just a running quarterback. One's a throwing. They're going to run similar stuff, and I don't know if it's due to just how they played or if the one guy that starts got maybe nicked up a little, I don't know.
"They're very fortunate because I remember going back and listening to preseason where they thought they had depth in the position, so I think it's just the nature of where they are offensively, but I don't think it changes dramatically. They're going to do what they do, and they execute it really well, and I'm sure that Coach Davis and Kirk will get the guy they think is going to give them the best chance to win, and it's kind of nice they got two guys they can do it with."
Q. The fact that you guys beat them the last time you played them in 2012, how can that help the mindset of the guys going into the week? Do they have some confidence from the prior success?
COACH WILSON: "Yeah. I think our team's getting more confident just because we're slowly having a little bit more success; we're more mature. There's more talent with the younger guys; the veteran guys have grown. They've been battle tested and been on the road and played in games.
"That team two years ago had some injuries, I think, at Iowa, with running back and whatnot, and we were a different team. We threw it a lot that day, didn't run it very, very well; and so it's kind of, you know, we're kind of different, and both of us are at different points.
"They're a better team, for sure, just with their experience and growth and the way they coach them, and I think we're different. In some ways we're a little bit better, but it'll be a different matchup.
"I think our team realizes from how we've played that if we play hard, we can match up and compete; if we don't, we're very, very vulnerable and very susceptible to not having a positive outing, and that's all we've talked about, the preparation and the choice to go out and play the way we need to play to be successful, because we can practice it, but you need to choose to now go out there and let's play. And if you do that, you've got a chance, so I think it's more of just the confidence where we are this year versus a couple years ago."
Q. You talk about your consistent approach week to week to week. How do you make sure that they I guess go along with that program?
COACH WILSON: "Again, we'll stay -- because, again, we like our players, and they're a great practice squad and do a lot of things around here and around the building and around the community in the right way. We're going to kind of keep staying with our structure.
"What they need to realize is what they need to invest outside of just coming to practice. For example, we got a great business school over there at Kelly, and if you just go to class and sit in there, you're not going to get a degree. You better do some work and some extra stuff, so we've got our 20-hour rule, how many hours I can spend time coaching you, but you better do some things in your rest, in your nutrition and in your self-preparation to get yourself ready to go. And that's your responsibility.
"Like we tell them all the time, it's not our job to come in here and give you some rah, rah 'Win One For the Gipper' speech and you're going to go win. That's done through the week, and you're building that point. And with some young players you learn to do it, and with some old players I think we need to learn how to keep focusing. It's so easy with all the technology we have just to get easily distracted, because you can Google and check anything out and get infatuated with yourself and where you are. You better come back to getting grounded and getting prepared.
"So we'll stay with the practice routine, but a lot of it is those kids need to realize what they need to do to be ready to make that choice to play, because bottom line, it's a choice. And it's so easy, in this day and age, you can walk out with your hands down. If you do, you're going to get smashed. You better come out with your hands up ready to fight. Talk about it. The other guys fight."
Q. On injuries:
COACH WILSON: "I don't think there's anything. We had Spriggs who could have went last week and didn't practice, and we gave Ralston Evans a spell, and Greg said, do you want Jason to go. I said, he's been standing around cold, Peyton Eckertstarted to play, so he should be full go. We had light work yesterday, and outside of that, no issues as far as any cheap bruises or bumps. We're kind of where we've been."
Q. On true freshman WR J-Shun Harris II:
COACH WILSON: "He hit his head on the -- just snapped, I think a concussion, I think in this day and age, there's probably more whiplash hitting your head on the turf than actual contact. And he said after the game he was fine, but again, in this day and age, you need to be -- he felt a little woozy, and our guys looked at him; and we got some things in place, like all schools do, that again, when those guys say a guy is down, he's down.
"He looked yesterday. What we did yesterday was so minimal it doesn't really count as a true practice. But it'll be interesting how much he can do tomorrow, we'll see, and for sure by Wednesday.
"And he appears to come out of it. I don't know if it's going to linger. I don't know. Everybody can say it needs to be seven, eight and nine. Sometimes, too, you say your head's hurt, and the doctor says your out. Well, you just said that, so what's the degree of the hurting. So I don't think there's a time line, a guy's out three days, five days, two weeks, four weeks. I think our guys are always going to err on protecting the athlete, but I think in talking with him afterwards, it didn't appear to be that big, but we'll see, because again, we do all these pretests with guys to get a baseline of where they're at, and then with your recall, you post test and you show that you're up to speed.
"So he'll communicate, does he have headaches, whatever. I think every school's about got the same policies going now, and we'll see.
"Again, we're not going to -- I'm not saying we're rushing a guy with a concussion, but it didn't appear to be a heavy, big one. Maybe I'm wrong, but that's my take, from Saturday, what I heard yesterday and what I'm hearing today.
"So we'll see. Not that he's going, but we'll see. I'll be surprised if he doesn't. We'll see. We'll do what's best for him."
Q. On improvements on defense and depth:
COACH WILSON: "And you know, again, the thing we keep talking about about playing hard and competition, a lot of guys playing, understanding roles, the more guys we play. Dutra we thought was outstanding, he only had about 25, 30 plays, but when he's out there, he can go hard, full speed. And it's not like we got a guy, if you mess up, you're out. It's just you can go play hard. You don't have to save it because we're playing -- instead of playing Tim Bennett the whole game at corner, we're playing some guys, so when he's out there, he can be more -- because we need to get more aggressive in the -- I thought Murphy's play on a pass interference, which was for sure a P.I. call, but it was an aggressive play.
"I just like that we're being a little bit more aggressive, and I'd like to see it be a lot more than it is. That doesn't mean blitz. That just means that we're teeing off up front, we're active in the perimeter, we're not missing a bunch of tackles. We need to tighten up coverage. We need to get up to the quarterback a little bit more. But man, those guys are young, and we've got a new system in place, and to me they're doing kind of good and they're not close yet, and that's kind of fun, and do they see that -- hey, I see myself getting better and I'm playing and making some plays, and that feels good, but do I realize it's not even close, like I'm really pushing the coaches to realize that it can be so much better.
"And it's never going to be perfect. This is all a tremendous challenge to coach defense in this day and age. Tremendous. It ain't easy, the way we're doing it, with running plays and linemen down field and throwing the ball like everybody's doing, it's hard. You know, and you're making them defend every guy on the field, and then the running quarterback. So it's almost like you need 12 or 13 guys sometimes.
"So you're going to get worked, and the deal is, though, is to keep playing hard, and those young guys are playing hard, and I think the old guys are doing a good job now of embracing roles and what they're bringing, and my challenge to them is that I like what I see, and I don't think it's close to what it can be, and that's what we want to keep pushing for, because we're a lot of young players and we're very new into this process of where those guys are right now."
Q. On playing the way you practice and making plays:
COACH WILSON: "No doubt. One of our comments a week ago, though, we talked about with our guys, because I felt prior -- a couple of weeks ago we had a solid week of practice but didn't show. One of the things we talked about was not just practicing or practicing hard, but you need to practice making plays, so for example, when I beat a scout team offensive lineman or even the ones or twos in a pass rush, maybe I can't tackle the quarterback, but I continue to pursue to be in a position to do so, because I felt some of the things you're talking about in years past, sometimes it was tough to get up. But sometimes we were there and still didn't make the play, and man, you're in great position. That's a pretty good call. We are unblocked; make the sack. You're all over the guy in coverage; get your hand on the ball.
"So one of the things that we're just emphasizing is continuing to play hard, and as you practice, not just practice hard, but practice making the plays you need to make in the game, because if you don't do it on the driving range, it ain't ever going to the first tee.
"And we can go hit a bunch of balls but we need to start hitting them good. Hey, we've been hitting a bunch of balls in practice, but we need to start hitting them down the middle, and we talked a lot after the Maryland game of not practicing harder but practicing with the purpose of making plays, coming into the building with the purpose of having a good meeting instead of just coming in here and doing your job. Let's be productive because we got a good chance to have some success as we keep moving forward."
Q. On playing the full 60 minutes despite the score:
COACH WILSON: "A little bit, but the real -- that's a good question, because we need to, yes, for sure, keep playing. As a matter of fact, you're a turnover away from being into an 11-point game with six minutes left, for what that's worth. So now all of a sudden on-side kick, and you can be in a two-possession game and think, hey.
"So again, I showed them highlights of the Arizona comeback against Cal where they scored, what, 36 points in the fourth quarter saying, look, I don't care what the score is; you better keep playing. Even if you're down, keep playing and even if you're up, keep playing. It's not about running up scores, or it's not about, hey, the game's over, just keep playing.
"So one, that's a point, but to me the thing is that we busted some things that we hadn't technically seen, but conceptually you're always going to get in certain situations.
"So I don't care what the formation is, and third and longs people are going to have some version of rush control; so is it draws, screens, whatever, they're going to have goal line, certain play-action passes, so you can say, hey, I didn't see this, but as a young defensive player, moving forward on the two-point play, every team in the country has the sprint-out pick pass to the right, for what it's worth. They don't do it all the time, but that's one -- we did it in 1982, it was called 574 at North Carolina. Everybody runs that play.
"The pros, it's QB option. Everybody runs that play. We'll see it this week. We got it this week.
"But as a defensive guy, how are you not ready for it? Well, there's so much processing going on that you forget, and that to me was what was disappointing, not that we didn't play 60 or we busted a coverage, but with young players -- and you're young, but start learning, because bank that play because you're going to see that again, not because you busted, but in the history of football, you're going to see that play and learn from that."
Q. On Iowa LT Brandon Scherff:
COACH WILSON: "I had a chance to quickly speak with him at the Big Ten meetings. I thought it was him. Wasn't sure. He's a big guy, like who are you; and as soon as he said, I said, you're the guy that kills guys. And he said, I try to play as hard as I can. I said you do. He's very strong, very athletic. I think he's kind of grown into that position. He can come out as a natural, big guy. He's used their development of their weight program and their strength coaches and the position coaches, but he plays with a lot of passion, so he's a fun guy to watch.
"And I remember a year ago not playing them, but when we would watch defenses and you watched him making some awesome plays against some special guys. I have a lot of respect for him. He's a tremendous lineman, one of the best in the country."
Q. On playing hard:
COACH WILSON: "And again, you don't try to make it -- we've had conversation with players, what were you doing. Well, I was trying to make a play. Well, if you're trying, it ain't gonna happen. So we just talk about, you know, play hard, do what you're -- be where you're supposed to be.
"But one thing we talked about last week was especially defensively, as you are being where you're supposed to be -- I'm canceling a gap. Feel free to kick some butt as you cancel the gap. So just being in the gap is not the job. Be in your gap and create some havoc and make a play.
"So bottom line, we keep talking, and we can talk and talk and talk, but as players you need to keep playing. You need to keep playing every play. Games are never over till they're over. You're never out of it. If you're out of it, just keep playing.
"But bottom line, it's easier said than done. If it was, everybody would win every game and everybody would play perfect every game, so you got human beings, you got kids, we got some good kids, and our deal is we are emphasizing, showing them the good. There's a lot of positives to build on and we want to keep building on it, and it's going to be a tough challenge with these cats now, because they're going to play hard, and they are very, very good so we're going to need our best go, like we've had a couple times, we're going to need a really good go this week."
Q. When you know what they're going to do is the preparation easier or harder?
COACH WILSON: "I think really, unless a team is really, really, really junky all over the place, most people, they change from week to week, but you get a feel for people, you know what they're going to do.
"And bottom line, it's executing plays, yeah, that's kind of what we do. We ran a lot of the same plays the next week. Does somebody hear, because you're up there talking, hear your words and share words, whatever; you change your words, you change your pig Latin, for whatever your stuff is.
"But at the end of the day, it's execution. And I think the worst thing as coaches sometimes -- sometimes, you know, Coach Stoops said a long time ago, he said, you got that big piece of paper and you need to call all those plays. And he goes, you know, you don't have to. So feel free to do what they give you and take what's there and don't feel free, like you need to justify your existence and guard your desk every day and work 90 hours to do a bunch of plays. Find out what works and get your kids to execute it.
"That's the key to --, in this no-huddle world, a lot of guys on defense talk about how simpler they've made it, which allows their defense to play harder and when they know what to do, the faster they play, the harder the play, the more they play. Now, you can say it's so simple, you know where they're at, but the kids know what they're doing. They're playing so hard, they're making plays. And as we've gotten more talented, sometimes the coaching needs to -- you can coach your guys to play hard instead of coaching them on a bunch of cute little gimmick stuff all the time. You can kind of play a little bit more normal football."
Q. On play-calling:
COACH WILSON: "I call the good ones and Coach Johns calls the bad ones. That's a fact. If it's not a good play, I had nothing to do with it. For example, Missouri, the last drive, it was amazing, my headphones went dead. Yeah, so I just had to take them off and yell at the guy with the call. It was amazing. Happened twice that game. Little-known fact.
"You've been there, right, Buck? All of a sudden, went dead. What happened here. I don't know. We need to score a touchdown.
"I don't know. Sometimes -- I'm one of the five coaches on offense, so I help out over there. I thought at Oklahoma Coach Stoops was very involved in defense because that was his background. He was the head guy, but he sat in every defensive meeting, and he was the DB, and you can ask Coach Shelby, he coached corners. He was the corners coach. Okay. He was the head guy, but on the field I got you. That's my deal is I'm not the best, but I coach a little, so let me help coach a little. And I'm best when I'm working with the offense, and I'm best -- I go over there and I say, here's what I think they're doing offensively. Y'all figure out how you need to stop it, but make sure we just attack and stay aggressive.
"Same deal on the kicking. Coach Inge was huge with that kickoff, onside. Not me. He's like, it's there, I want it. I said, okay, go for it. That was his call. I just said, yeah.
"That was his choice. He said, Coach, it's there. I said, go for it.
"That's a part of staff. Like I have final say on a lot of stuff. They're down there right now, probably taking their break for lunch, but they're going to go through every formation, every down-and-distance situation. We put a lot of plays up, and what I try to do is get the eraser out and start taking the clutter off the game plan.
"So what do we need to have enough tools in the toolbox to go after it. And we get out there, and you just kind of get a feel for it. I've called plays since '90, and so I got a feel for certain things, but sometimes it's not a good view, and Kevin's got a good view. So it's just kind of a team deal.
"The real play calling is done when the drive is over; what do you want next time. I'm thinking, give me this, give me this. What do you see? Should we do this or that, what do we need, and we kind of put it together. We don't script the game -- like I don't have a 15-play script. We don't do it. I mean we don't even sometimes tell them what the first play is going to be until we get out there, because what's the wind, what's the situation because I'm telling you exactly what it's going to be. We practice that on Thursday, we practice that on Friday, all of a sudden, it's a 20-mile-an-hour wind and you're on the three-yard line coming out; wait a minute.
"We do a good job on the sideline, this is what we're going to do next, and we try to get the flow of things. So that's kind of how we call plays.
"You got 40, 50, 60, 70 selections, but we're going with these four, five, six, seven, eight. That's kind of how we do it. Anything else? Good. Appreciate you being here, guys."
FastScripts by ASAP Sports
Indiana lost their Big Ten opener 37-15 to Maryland at home. Iowa will travel to Maryland, after facing Indiana, while Indiana will head home to host Michigan State.