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September 2, 2014

Tracy Claeys

THE MODERATOR:  Questions for coach.

Q.  After you lose that many guys on the D‑line, do you scratch your head?
COACH CLAEYS:  Coach reminds you all the time, it's our job as coaches that you put the best people on the field that you have available, ask them to do what they can do.  As far as preparing, you can't worry about the ones you don't have.
It's their job to get healthy and get better.  Right away we just looked at who's the next best people we can put in there, what things can we do that they're capable of doing.

Q.  Is that next best person Steven Richardson?
COACH CLAEYS:  There's going to be quite a few of them ending up going up quite a bit.  Gaelin is going to get a few more reps.  Andrew is going to get a few more reps.  Coach Phelps, as far as how they rotate, I leave it up to him.  He works with them every day.
Those young kids, we don't have any other choice.  Throw them in there, they're more than capable of getting it done.  Just got to get them in the right spots and teach them what to do.

Q.  Richardson, what have you seen from him?
COACH CLAEYS:  He's a strong kid, plays well.  Obviously has good pad level.  But he's extremely strong, gets off the ball with a great first step.
He'll be just fine.  At least you have a little bit of film to go off of.  At least there's some film here that helps you teach a little bit.
Whether you're ready or not, it's the best teacher to get them ready for the Big Ten season, to get them in there and play, so they're going to get the opportunity to play.

Q.  (Question about playing offense with tempo.)
COACH CLAEYS:  We've never huddled since I've been defensive coordinator on defense.  So that part of it doesn't bother me.  That's part of the reason we did it, because we always believed that even when you huddled on defense, when people got in two‑minute, late before the half, it just screwed up your communication so much, you might not as well huddle at all.  We've never huddled on defense.  That part is not so bad.  You're still locating the substitution.
I will say this.  You could tell that they've changed with the eight officials.  When they substituted, they did hold the ball longer to get you a chance to match the substitutions the other night.
But the biggest thing is when they don't change personnel and go right to the line, it's hard to substitute people in for situations.  Basically whatever you have out there you have to play with, unless the ball goes out of bounds next to your boundary.  I thought Coach Phelps did a great job of that, making sure we didn't substitute D‑line when the ball went out of bounds on the other side.  Last year we got caught with 12 people on the field a couple times.  It's weird, you have to pay attention where the ball goes out of bounds and where it's at before you end up substituting people.
The good thing is, about everybody is doing it.  Used to only see it two, three times a year.  You would go, Oh, my.  Now you get used to it.

Q.  When do you expect Keith to play again?  With Damien Wilson, do you feel he improved a lot the last few games last seen and where do you him now, Tracy?
COACH CLAEYS:  Damien is better.  I still think he can play better than what he did the other night.  In that regard he's better.  He's a little lighter than he was last year.  That helps with all the no‑huddle teams, spreading it out.
He'll continue to improve.  So we're very pleased with where Damien is at.  You don't find too many people his size that run like he does, so we're pleased with him.
Alex Keith, I'm not for sure when he gets back.  Coach tells us it's not our job to worry about injuries.  It's getting the ones that are ready ready to play.  That's the truth.  When he says he's ready to go, he'll go.  I don't know how long that's going to be.

Q.  You said you end up grading out your secondary.  Do you credit some of that to more adjustments you had to make, to their offense?
COACH CLAEYS:  Again, when a new staff takes over, you can blame me at the beginning of it.  We're just trying to figure out what the hell's going on basically because you don't know what personnel are going to do, you have no video.  You give a little bit of ground.
I will say this, though, the second play of the game, Damien should have intercepted it and would have scored six points.  We dropped an interception there.  Those people that are in that offense now, I mean, they do it because it's really pretty simple for the offense.  They know what they're looking for, throws they're looking for.
I think they got like 60 of their yards on that first drive or something like that.  But this game still comes down to you got to cross the goal line and get points.  It isn't about yardage anymore.  I think too much now you're judged on too much yardage you give up.  The bottom line is how many points do you give up.  Coach Sawvel does a great job of getting those kids ready to play.  We're as athletic as anybody back there.
I think that's one thing that the game is fortunate to do with the speed‑up stuff and that, some of the routes that people are running, you got to match it man‑to‑man to be able to effectively get it stopped.

Q.  (Question about injury to Scott.)
COACH CLAEYS:  Harold moved back to D‑line.

Q.  Do you expect him to play?
COACH CLAEYS:  For depth purposes is really what it's for.

Q.  Middle Tennessee State has a good crop of runningbacks.  Do you feel this game will be a good test to see where you are at as far as stopping the run goes?
COACH CLAEYS:  They're still a one‑back team.  They run a little bit of power.  But they really spread the field a lot.  Again, you know that's not as hard to get young players for up front in the D‑line as what a two‑back power team is.
The backs are good.  They got enough skill.  They spread the field on you.  You're going to have to tackle in space.  If you don't make plays in space, it's going to be a long day.
I thought the other night we tackled pretty good except on the quarterback scrambles.  I thought we tackled pretty good.  We're going to have to tackle again in order to get it stopped.  That's what the whole philosophy is.
They're going to run a lot more screens than what we seen last week.  We're going to have to make sure we have good leverage and tackle the ball.

Q.  (Question about getting spread out.)
COACH CLAEYS:  Not very much.  Shoot, that's the thing.  I think everybody started with your base defense.  You have to have players in there who can make space.  I think that's why the smaller linebackers, you get away with a little bit.  Two or three games, you got to make adjustments, but the rest of the games those kids can play.  It's changed the way we recruit.  I mean, it's changed everything.  But that's the way the game is going nowadays.

Q.  What about the cornerback, pretty good completion percentage the other night.
COACH CLAEYS:  They did well.  The other thing about that, the next two games, they're just as difficult to prepare for as the first one.  I'm sure they didn't have to show everything that they're doing.  They were pretty simple the other night in what they did.  They just executed really well, scored a lot of points.  It will be interesting to see what else they do.
But coach has been there for a while.  They've done a nice job.  They've been pretty consistent on offense with what they like to do.
TCU is the same way.  They play the game and they got this week off.  I mean, these next two games are still a little bit of being blind going into them.  But having a veteran secondary, a lot of kids have played, it was easy the other night to make adjustments when we had to make them.  So hopefully that will pay off here the next two weeks also.
Thank you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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