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September 9, 2014

Darrell Hazell

Q.  Inaudible -- (What do the quarterbacks David and Austin need to do)?
COACH HAZELL:  Both of those guys need to get a lot better based off the film.  They know that and we know that.
We're running a couple reps with both guys today in the ones and we'll make a decision here this week.  We're not going to make a huge issue out of it.  They both need to get better, and they both made some mistakes in the game on Saturday and we're going to move forward and make sure that they are continually getting better as young guys.
They are young guys, and that's the thing that you have to remember about those guys.  We want them to be seasoned veterans after 12 or 13 games, and that's not going to happen.  When you look across the country and the productivity with the quarterbacks and watch where they are across the country, and we are no different than a lot of those people.

Q.  Running production, what needs to be improved?
COACH HAZELL:  We knew their defensive schemes and structures were completely different and we knew that Central Michigan was going to make us throw the long route.  We said to our football team going in, you're going to have to have ten‑ and 12‑ and 15‑play drives because they are not going to give up the big play, they are structurally going to keep everybody back and try to keep everything in front of you.
I was a little disappointed we didn't get more bigger plays.  That was the one thing as you look at the stats, we needed to hit some more bigger plays and we were not able to get those on Saturday.  I felt a lot of things were blocked well but we were getting four and five.  We were not doing a great job of making the safety miss that extra defender or getting that safety blocked to get those huge runs that you need to have.

Q.  In terms of the run defense, what do you need to see better this week‑‑
COACH HAZELL:  Well, the biggest thing we have to do better, Pete, is we have to be able to tackle better.  We had some unblocked guys that need to make tackles in the hole.  It's same thing; if you don't tackle well, it's hard.  You have to be able to tackle better, and we'll emphasize that today and practice even more.
We do it every week, but we are going to do it even more today but we have to be able to tackle better.  And then also, you must be in your correct gap, critical.  And if one guy is out of gap, that could create a huge seam. 

Q.  How do you auto correct penalty issues?
COACH HAZELL:  One of the things I said in the staff meeting this morning is make sure each one of your groups takes it upon themselves that they have no penalties, and we have to keep emphasizing that because those were some critical penalties.  We had the targeted penalty that led to a touchdown.  We had the other personal foul, the hands to the face that led to a touchdown.  And obviously the big one where we had a speed‑break offensive play where we had the 12th guy on the field, huge penalty.  Could maybe have gain 21, 14 going into the half.
But we have to keep emphasizing how critical or how important it is for us to stay out of those penalty situations, because those are the things that defeat yourself.  We all talk about there's one team on the schedule you never want to beat, and that's yourself.

Q.  NotreDame, had a chance to watch them Saturday night, they are just so quick defensively.  How do you deal with defensive speed like that?
COACH HAZELL:  They do.  They run from sideline to sideline extremely well, and there's some certain things that you can count on that with that we have to be able to do.  And you've got to stay out of negative plays against this football team because their makeup is completely different on third down than it is on first and second down.  You can't limit them to third and nines and third and 11s, because then they are going to eat you up.

Q.  You talked about last week, generally in the off‑season how you felt like this was a confident team.  Does what happened last week effect that at all?
COACH HAZELL:  I think it has to effect it a little bit if we are being completely honest.  But we need to come out and really establish ourselves early in the game and start and go toe‑to‑toe.  One of the keys to this victory is to be able to match their intensity level from the get‑go.

Q.  What do you think of your team's intensity level last week?
COACH HAZELL:  I thought it was good.  When you don't execute as well as you would like to or should at certain times, sometimes you're a little off‑kilter.
But I thought our intensity level, when we started the game, even throughout the rest of the games, you watch the film, and you never see a drop‑off of intensity.  But you're always fighting uphill those 21 points down or 14 points down, and that's hard for a team trying to get a little bit better.

Q.  After the game I asked you about making progression from week one to week two.  Where did you see those strides being made?
COACH HAZELL:  I think offensively, you know, we're blocking well up front.  I think we are protecting the quarterback well; and if we can continue to do that and get David in the rhythm or Austin in the rhythm, I think that's going to bode well in the future.
We have to play better on the outside.  I think we have to be able to take pressure off the tight ends and the backs by being able to uncover our receivers outside.  Defensively they are still running to the ball and that's what you're looking for, and a lot of good things are happening.
I think Frankie is a key player for us because you're looking for guys in your program that can make critical plays, and he's one of those guys that has stood out the first couple weeks to be able to do that.

Q.  What is the plan then for Frankie and Taylor Richards this week?
COACH HAZELL:  You're going to see them on the field together at times.  You're going to see him, Landon and Frankie.  Frankie Landon and Taylor on the field at the same time quite a bit this week.

Q.  Has Frankie been the nickel‑‑
COACH HAZELL:  Frankie would be the nickel‑‑

Q.  Inaudible‑‑ what does Taylor Richards bring?
COACH HAZELL:  Well, I think he's got tremendous energy.  That's the first thing he brings.  He's got a lot of field experience.  He's a physical guy.
Just found out this morning that Austin Logan is questionable for this game.  Took a couple shots to the head on Saturday.  But Taylor brings a lot of experience to the field.

Q.  A challenge to the secondary with Everett Golson; how do you think the unit has played the first two weeks and what are the challenges this week?
COACH HAZELL:  I think what's got to help the secondary is our front line.  I just had Ryan Russell in my office before I came over here, and I said, "What do we need to do to get you guys to be more productive?"  And we talked through a bunch of things but I think that front line has got to be able to take the pressure off the back end.
The one thing about this football team that we are playing on Saturday is you'd better stay in coverage because he makes a lot of things happen by holding onto the football.  And you saw it last week, the play right before half where he hit a guy 65 yards, was because he extended the play, the defenders relaxed in the back end, and he hits a strike for a touchdown right before the half.

Q.  You're obviously an underdog, at least if you're a betting man, I suppose, do you think that will help the team‑‑ not be the team that's favored to win?
COACH HAZELL:  I think we can go win this game with the mentality that no one expects us to win the football game.  We have to go out and play extremely hard, and we have to play relaxed and we have to execute.  At the end of the play and the end of the day, that's what it comes down to.  You can say all you want about this and that.  But it comes down to execution and not hurting yourself with penalties.

Q.  What is the uniform helmet combination going to be this week?
COACH HAZELL:  Black, white, white.

Q.  Why was your team able to kind of play one of its best games of the year last year against NotreDame?  Certain games, guys get up for more than others; was that part of it?
COACH HAZELL:  Probably so, but you hope that's not the case.  You hope that each week you perform at the highest level you're capable of performing.
I know our guys will be fired up.  This one has been going on for 95 years, and it's getting ready to go away and I'm sure the guys will be fired up about this great game plan and a great venue down in Lucas Oil Stadium.  So all of those things will add to the energy level that will be in the stadium on Saturday night.

Q.  You've watched two full games now on Everett Golson, what has stood out about him?
COACH HAZELL:  How well he throws the football.  I mean, he really stands in there.  He's seeing the field and comes out with great velocity and is very accurate with the football.

Q.  They have a new coordinator on defense.  What has changed for them this year?
COACH HAZELL:  I think the biggest thing that he does, and he's been all over‑‑ he's been with Jets and Auburn and he's been with a couple other places with Coach Kelly.
But what he does is he likes to put pressure on the offense by showing you a million different looks on third down.  I mean, he is going to run the safety out that's a deep third player from the line of scrimmage, playing much like the Steelers do with Polamalu.
So he's going to give you a lot of different looks, and we've got to be able to handle those different situations and stay out of those third‑and‑longs because that's when they come after you.

Q.  From an offensive perspective, they have a lot of guys they use at receiver and backfield; is that hard to plan for?
COACH HAZELL:  I think it's very similar to us in terms of being able to get Keenan in and out of the backfield, very similar that way.
But I think structurally what we have to do is just‑‑ without giving anything away, we have to be able to play our positions.  And the big key word for Sunday and today and the rest is, do your job and your job is this.  There is no gray area.  As long as you do your job, you'll be okay.

Q.  You had mentioned before, you seem pretty satisfied the way the offensive line has been blocking, pretty big challenge with Sheldon Day.  I guess this is a really good defensive line they are going to be going against.  How big of a concern is that?
COACH HAZELL:  It's special.  He's a really, really good player.  What makes him special is he stays on his feet, he's powerful.  He runs down the line of scrimmage.  We have a couple things planned for him but he's a really good player and we're going to have to get him blocked.

Q.  Just as a fan of college football, is there a tinge of disappointment that this series, is going to go on a five‑year hiatus?
COACH HAZELL:  This has been such a great series, it really has.  It's an in‑state rivalry and it's bragging rights for a year and all those things.  Obviously there is some disappointment and it's going away and it's unfortunate that we won't see them again until 2020.

Q.  Is there concern how the running game can really get going Saturday, and how important will that be this week against NotreDame to try to open up the passing game?
COACH HAZELL:  It's very important.  We have to be able to establish the run and for us this week, four‑ and five‑yard gains are big plays for us, and we have to be able to stay on schedule.  Not necessarily those big chunk plays, but we have to be able to shorten the sticks on third down, make it third and three, make it third and four, and stay out of those long yardage situations; and that's part of your run game and part of your short passing game.  Obviously you have to push the ball deep to back them off a little bit, but we have to be able to stay on track.

Q.  How are you addressing problems with the defensive line?
COACH HAZELL:  I wanted to move up the issues that he thought, and a lot of times you might think it's defensive line; it may not be.  Could be a linebacker missing the hit, missing the gap, but we have got to too get more productivity out of those guys, for sure.

Q.  What problems does NotreDame present that your other two opponents didn't?
COACH HAZELL:  Well, obviously they are a lot more athletic.  They are faster.  The quarterback is an unbelievable player and he'll be able to create some things on his own.  We have to do a good job of containing him and try to get to him as quickly as we can.

Q.  And how important is this game for the program moving forward?
COACH HAZELL:  It's huge.  It's a huge game for us.  We have to make significant strides on Saturday night.

Q.  Would you consider playing two quarterbacks in the same game?

Q.  Why not?
COACH HAZELL:  I just don't think it's the best for our football team right now.

Q.  Back to the secondary.  The fact that you would move Franke to the nickel, is that an indication you're pleased with what the corners are doing right now?
COACH HAZELL:  Yes, our corners have done a good job.  Obviously, like I said earlier, everybody needs to do better but they are doing a nice job back there.  I have no issues with our corner play the first two games.

Q.  What do you like about what they are doing right now?
COACH HAZELL:  They are staying locked up in man‑to‑man coverage.  We are asking a lot of man‑to‑man coverage out of those guys, and they are doing a good job of locking those guys down outside.

Q.  And do you see this as an opportunity to maybe get your best players on the field in any formation?
COACH HAZELL:  I was driving home Sunday night, and thinking about, you know, how do we get more athletic.  And that's the way you do it is to be able to put Frankie and Landon and Tayloron the ‑‑ that makes you a more athletic team, especially playing against these guys that are very athletic, their offense.

Q.  With Jake Replogle, he put on 30 pounds, roughly, in the off‑season.  Has he learned to play with that 30 pounds?  Have you seen any difference in his play based on what he's added?
COACH HAZELL:  He showed up a little bit Saturday.  He had a half sack.  He's getting some penetration.  He still needs to ‑‑ he's getting a lot of double‑teams inside, which he's got to learn to fight those double‑teams and get off those blocks.  But I'm not disappointed in Jake at all.  He's doing a nice job for us.

Q.  How has Jordan Roos held up on the offensive line?
COACH HAZELL:  He's probably been the biggest surprise for us.  He's been very consistent.  I think he lost his guy maybe once on Saturday where he just completely missed but I think he's done a great job.  He's done a good job of claiming the pocket for us when he's a free guy, just peeling back and getting some pretty good shots.  And we need that type of attitude inside from our offensive line guys.

Q.  To follow up on the corners, what is it that Antoine Lewis, in particular, has done well for you?  He's been a guy who has played a little bit in his career but playing a whole lot this year?
COACH HAZELL:  He's playing a lot for us and he's doing a good job of staying in man‑to‑man coverage.  I think he has some patience back there sometimes; he doesn't panic when the ball is thrown at him.  We all need to be better tacklers in the back end.  That's where we missed a lot of our tackles in the back end.  You can't miss tackles in the back end.

Q.  What about Feichter from a leadership and organization point of view back there, what does he bring in?
COACH HAZELL:  Well, he's your quarterback of the back end.  He really does he's a great communicator.  He's constantly getting those guys lined up properly, and I think having him and Frankie back there, as well as now another veteran guy, that's going to help us in terms of confidence, in terms of being more athletic.

Q.  You mentioned the tackling a few times since the end of the game.  What is your philosophy on wearing pads during the season during practice?  You haven't done that‑‑ I don't think you've worn pads in practice for a few weeks now.  What is your general philosophy on doing that?
COACH HAZELL:  We're going to wear pads today, but my philosophy is you've got to get your guys to the game.  I've talked to quite a few‑‑ not quite a few, but a few NFL coaches this off‑season and kind of got their view on when to pull the pad and when you're wearing just your shells and just those type of things.
I feel comfortable on what we've done in terms of just wearing our uppers because we are full speed.  Only thing we are not doing is cut blocking and taking‑it‑to‑the‑ground tackling.  But we are wrapping up and thudding pretty heavily.
But when you are at that point where you're missing as many tackles as we missed this year, when do you sacrifice potentially losing the guy in practiceor getting the guy to the game.  That's the question you always have to answer.

Q.  Have you changed your answer this week a little bit in deciding to go to the pads?
COACH HAZELL:  No, there's another reason.  We are going to go wide from our field goal block team.  I want those guys to lay out.  That was one of the reasons.  Our guys coming off the edge, I want them to dive and lay out to try to block the field goal.

Q.  Any more contact than that in the pads?
COACH HAZELL:  I haven't looked at the individual drills to see if they are taking them to the ground.  I'm hoping they are not doing it too much.  If they are‑‑ because a lot of times when you're missing a tackle, you've out of position and you're reaching.
It's not necessarily thudding and wrapping up and those type of things.  You're out of position a lot of times.  There's some plays where you miss two or three guys will miss tackles on that same play because the guy makes you miss, and it has nothing to do with being able to take a guy to the ground, though.

Q.  You mentioned the quarterbacks needing to make improvements.  In what areas are those?  I'm sure it's different for each guy but mechanical, accuracy, decision‑making, what things are you seeing?
COACH HAZELL:  All of those, all of the above.  We have to make better decisions, first of all.  Obviously our accuracy has not been nowhere near up to par.  And then, you know, you have to be able to use some of those slides that we were taking.  We have to understand where all the sticks are.  All of those things come into play in understanding the whole picture of the game.

Q.  Those guys have shown signs of accuracy before.  Is there a mechanical thing that one are the other are doing that's affecting it or is it a matter of repetition and getting better?
COACH HAZELL:  I don't think there's a mechanical thing.  I talked to ‑‑ I brought Danny in yesterday, and we went through some of those things and he says, "I just have to do it."  You feel bad because he is struggling a little bit and you want him to get better and he will get better.
But I said, you've got to take so much of the thinking out of your mind, because sometimes that's his biggest hindrance; he's got so much information in his head that it's hard to just play.  He's trying to process way too many things, instead of just hitting your back foot and cutting the ball loose.  And we have to get him to that point or Austin to that point where you're just making those quick decisions and not thinking about, okay, is it cover one, is it cover nine, is it take the safety down.  You've got to be able to play at some point in time and not think about all these different pictures.

Q.  You've played in big environments before, but how do you avoid the hype of your team as they come out on a pro field?
COACH HAZELL:  One of the things we addressed is you have to know where you are when the time‑‑ for the ball to get picked off.  And people handle it differently.  Some guys need a lot of noise and energy, and other guys need a calmness about themselves.
I leave it up to the team to get to the position they need to be in terms of hype and all those things.  We can't let the factors outside of the while lines affect us.

Q.  NotreDame has gotten the lead early; how do you make them uncomfortable and avoid those situations where they feel their offense is rolling?
COACH HAZELL:  In both games, if you watch the games and study the film, in both games, it's a pretty tight game.  Late in the second quarter.  There was 5:46 on the clock against Michigan and ‑‑ at half‑time it's 21 ‑‑ 21‑0 against Michigan.  It was like 7‑0 with 5:46 on the clock.  So teams have kind of self‑destructed in those last three to five minutes of the game.  Rice did the same thing.  Turned it over twice right before the half, and NotreDame scored twice.
So we have to avoid that at all costs, because they are going to try to strike.  If you give them the ball back right before‑‑ they are going to try to strike and get you reeling a little bit.  So we have to avoid that at all costs.

Q.  And this is a defense that's only allowing seven and a half points in the game.  In the past it's played a real physical style and you mentioned the speed.  How do you play to their weaknesses?
COACH HAZELL:  I think we are crazy if we think we can consistently run ‑‑ try to out run them.  We have to make sure that we do some things to get on them quick, hit them quick.  Get the ball in the quarterbacks hands so that we are constantly moving those guys around and not so much trying to out‑run this team.

Q.  Against Central Michigan, one of the things you were really frustrated about is how central was able to punish you guys as the game went on.  NotreDame has three pretty strong running backs.  How do you address those issues that you guys had against Central Michigan against maybe some more talent with the Irish?
COACH HAZELL:  We have to do a great job in the running game.  It still comes back to that.
If you can't stop teams from running, they take advantage of you and we have to do a good job of solidifying the front with our front, but then also stepping through those open windows and holes with our linebackers and eliminating those running lanes where we had a few last week, quite a few last week, especially late in the game.

Q.  We've talked a lot about confidence today.  At any point this week, do you show them the highlight reel of last year's game and how close they were to boost that confidence?
COACH HAZELL:  There are different film clips that we do show.  Some of them will be from last year's game but actually the film clips that we have today to show them, the Top‑10 plays of all time between NotreDame and Purdue and the history.  So that's kind of our attack today.

Q.  What do you hope they get out of watching that film?
COACH HAZELL:  We want to show them the ability to make plays and that's what it's going to come down to:  Which team will make the most plays consistently and keep themselves out of penalty trouble and all those other things.  We have to find guys that will make plays in those critical situation and then we'll keep the sticks moving on offense and then you'll stop them on defense on third down.

Q.  You mentioned maybe the underdog mentality.  Is that what you're mainly preaching this week as you get ready?
COACH HAZELL:  No, but the message‑‑ the strong message today, it has to be, stay out of penalty situations, find guys that are going to make plays and do your job.  Those are the three main points.  It's not about us being our backs against the wall, none of those things.  It's about us being able to execute at a high level.

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