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September 16, 2014

Jerry Kill

COACH KILL:  Appreciate everyone coming out.  I guess the opening statement would be looking forward to practice today.  Looking forward to getting our kids back out there.  I know this morning they had a great weight workout, and I know Coach Klein said they were excited to get back out there.  So looking forward to that.  Putting it behind us and moving forward and getting ready for the next one, that is kind of how this profession works.  So you've got to have a short memory and go to work, so that's what we're doing.  So with that, any questions?

Q.  Coach, would you assess your offensive line at this point through three games?  I know some guys are beat up at the same time, but are you happy with what you've seen?  Are you upset?
COACH KILL:  Well, I think we're replacing a guy that was a very, very good player for us in Caleb Bak, and Foster Bush has gone in there and had about three games experience and so forth.  You know, Josh Campion's gone from right tackle due to injury and left tackle, and we've moved Ben Lauer over.  And Jonah Pirsig was hurt.  So the continuity in the offensive line is so important.  I thought they've done some good things through the first three games.  However, on Saturday we didn't play good down the middle, and that is including backs and you're protecting the quarterback, your backs are involved in that protection.
So we just didn't play on Saturday, and it had things to do with it.  We knew what to do, but technically we didn't do as well as we should have, and that probably had to do with their speed and quickness of the game and so forth.  So we can play better on the offensive line, but we've got to play better offensively as a whole.
But you look at us last year, and things were a little bit different than what they are this year because we're playing that third game.  It's a little bit different than playing TCU, is that we know right now truly what we need to get fixed with things like that.  So that's something that we can certainly learn from.  I dont think it's the offensive line.  I think it's a whole of what we need to do to get better.  I said down the middle, that is the best way I can put it.

Q.¬† They go to the 4‑3 now with Robinson.¬† Even though you faced them last year, do you feel like this is going to be another new test in some ways?
COACH KILL:¬† Well, they're a 4‑3 team, but in some ways they're not.¬† Coach Robinson, he had been in the National Football League.¬† He's been all over the place.¬† Did a good job coming in and stepping in at Texas.¬† They run 4‑3, but they'll lineup in a lot of different variations.¬† They'll play bear, five down linemen, they'll shift into that.¬† They move their linebackers around.¬† They'll bring somebody off the edge.¬† They'll play a lot of cover one, cover three.
Everybody's doing really, certainly in the secondaries now, it don't matter if it's NFL, college football, there is a lot of man being played and bringing people to put pressure.¬† So it's kind of the swing of college football.¬† It's different in subtle ways, and in some ways, it's the same.¬† Because you have last week in the 4‑2‑5, the nickel is down in there.¬† It's just a lighter guy, and he can do stuff in pass coverage and so forth, and they're very similar to that.¬† They'll play quite a bit of nickel and down and three linebackers.¬† Pretty much a different way of doing it, but a lot of the same things.

Q.¬† So the conference call mentioned he was going to practice today.¬† Where is he health‑wise?
COACH KILL:  As far as I know, like last week, the trainer said that he's banged up and so forth.  But said he'd be at full speed today.  We'll see.  I can't tell you until we get out there, but that's where we're at as far as I know.

Q.  Do you know has he been able to run around a little bit?
COACH KILL:  I think he did not break his toe.  That's all I can say.  He was moving around on Sunday so whether it's full speed or all of those things, what I can say about trainer said he was running pretty well.  No different than last week.  He basically got what they call turf toe, but he's not swelled up.  They expect him to practice today.
I just got out of the staff meeting this morning, and he's not green or anything like that usually when you get them injured, so we'll see how he moves.  He's not a hundred percent.  It's like anything else, we've never played somebody that's not a hundred percent by the trainer.  Even so, sometimes I don't do it anyway because we need a full speed player playing.

Q.  Was he a hundred percent on Saturday?
COACH KILL:  Absolutely, ma'am.  I would never play somebody that was 82.9.  I'm not going to risk a kid or a quarterback or anything like that.  They've got to be cleared by the trainer.  I always tell the trainer, can he play full speed because this is a full speed game.  You can't have somebody who is certainly a quarterback, not full speed.
Now I can't say if he was hurting or not.  Like I said, he's a tough kid.  So that's not an easy situation to play in.  But if he's moving and doing what he needs to do, then that's where we're at.

Q.  Obviously there was a high frequency of snaps in this game.  How would you assess how he looked?  Is he healthy?
COACH KILL:¬† Yeah, he's healthy.¬† I thought at receiver‑wise, we played much harder than we have all year.¬† We got behind people and we caught the ball.¬† I mean, I think we did a good job there.¬† I don't think there is a question we've got to do a better job protecting, and we have to do a better job throwing and catching it or throwing it and getting on target.¬† So that's a combination of pressure and setting in there and those kind of things.¬† But I thought receiver‑wise, that was certainly a plus.

Q.  When you watch Mitch on Saturday, it seemed like some of his best throws came in the third quarter.  Would that be fair to say?
COACH KILL:¬† Well, I think we had less‑‑ we had better protection.¬† I mean, feel free.¬† Somebody goes back there and set, and you've got 7 bodies flying around you, that is not the easiest thing to do.¬† That, again, has to do with some of the athleticism that we've seen and we didn't protect it.¬† Then there were times we had protection and we didn't put it on them.¬† So it's a combination of two things.¬† It's all got to work together.
Then we have to do some things to get the ball out quicker.  There are things we have to do.  Everything that happened on Saturday had nothing to do with the kids.  It had everything to do with me.  I'm the guy that's accountable.  I'm the guy that puts them out there.  It's my job to make sure we take care of the quarterbacks.  It's my job to make sure we protect better.  That's my job as a head coach.  I've got to do a better job.

Q.  Would you say the defense had 24 by the middle of the second quarter and they ended up at 30, playing with a short field and stuff?
COACH KILL:¬† Everybody can count to five.¬† On a punt return they start on the 20‑yard line.¬† I don't give a darn how good your defense is.¬† That ain't happening.¬† We play good defense on defense if it was field position was different.¬† They made two great catches in the end zone.¬† I mean, Jay Lon has it all over him.¬† They made two great catches and so forth, but you cannot turn over the five turnovers and give them field position and win a football game.¬† We don't turn a ball over at all, we'll be in a football game.¬† We'll be in a football game.¬† But when you have five turnovers, that's the most turnovers I can remember having as a head coach in I can't remember, so it must be a while. ¬†So you cannot win any football game doing that.
If you said even with the talent that TCU had and all that stuff, you don't turn the ball over during the game.  They had something to do with it, don't get me wrong.  Their athleticism and speed and tipped ball.  I say that every week, I think in here.  I talked to John, the baseball coach, same thing, you know.  Have three or four errors in baseball, you're not going to win either.
Can't make those kind of mistakes.  Just can't do it.  We have five this week, we get beat again.  Can't do it.

Q.  When what do you see from their quarterback in the two games?
COACH KILL:¬† It's hard because it's two games.¬† The tough thing about them, they're very well‑coached offensively.¬† I mean, you talk to Coach Claeys, they've got formations all over the place.¬† We'll have to do a great job of getting lined up and practice and preparing for all the formations they do.¬† I mean, it ain't like two or three.¬† It's 80, 90.¬† I mean, there is a lot of stuff that you have to cover so you don't have mental errors.
We haven't had a lot of mental errors in the secondary, and up front, really.  We've had less mental errors than we had a year ago by far.  We've got some guys playing at a high level like Damien Wilson.  So we've got to do a better job on the offensive side of the ball.  I mean, it's pretty simple.  Not turn it over.  Play better.

Q.  When Rodrick came in on Saturday, it looked like he was pretty successful.  What is the key to him just to continue to improve?
COACH KILL:  He did a good job running the ball.  Just didn't pass protect very good.  None of us did.  You can ask Brian Jacobs, call him up, see what happens.  You got to pass protect.  There is a lot more than playing running back than just running the football.  You run the football all day, you can't pass protect and it's hard to get on the field, and that's just not Rodrick.
We did not pass protect very well all the way around.¬† Their athleticism had to be a part of that.¬† No question about that.¬† You go out there and pass protect and you're one‑on‑one, and that guy goes‑‑ hard to simulate that.¬† So got to set on the inside, make them beat you around the horn.¬† Quarterback has to step up.¬† Everything we did was not knowing what to do.¬† Our kids were ready to play, excited, all that kind of stuff.¬† Played hard, our kids played hard.¬† We just played with a not efficient technique.
When you don't play with efficient technique, a team like that is going to expose you and their speed exposed us.

Q.  Berkley had the three carries, but is that part of it for him?  He has to get into the pass protection?
COACH KILL:  Shoulder knocked down, so got his shoulder knocked down, both him and Donnell.  No practicing today.  I don't know.  You watch Berkley come off the deal looking like that.  Both of them got shoulders knocked down.  It's hard to do those kinds of things.  So hopefully we've got to find a way to stay healthy, but that's no excuse.  I mean, there are no excuses.  We've just got to get the guys that are playing ready to play and still stay and keep the ones that aren't healthy, try to get them healthy.

Q.  Is it frustrating that you're dealing with some injuries in the first couple weeks of the season with some pretty important players?
COACH KILL:  Yeah, it is, but this part of life and this business, some days you don't have any turnovers, you have no injuries, just things go your way, and that's great.  Then there are other challenges and so forth.  Sometimes the teams that are challenged the most end up being pretty darn good.  Our kids were challenged a year ago because of me, and ended up being pretty good.
This is only the third game of the year.  But is it frustrating this early?  Yeah.  It's a concern because we're going into the Big Ten schedule and you want to get guys that are 100%.  Zac Epping, you know right now has an ankle sprain.  It's difficult for him.  He didn't practice much last week, but he's such a good player.  Played well, but then he's still banged.  How much practice will he get this week?  So those are the things that concern you.
We've got some kids like that.  If you don't feel good, it's hard to play good sometimes certainly when you're banged up like that.  So we've got to keep getting better and better with what we're going.  We have Alex Keith back.  We're not getting some back.  We have three getting surgery today.  So some we won't get back, but the ones that are injured, we've got to get them back because we need that depth right now.

Q.  Can we ask who the three are?
COACH KILL:  Weyler, Isaiah Gentry, Rallis just had surgery.  Scott Ekpe is not ready to have surgery, hasn't gotten the swelling out of his knee yet.  Then Alex Mayes having surgery on his shoulder.  So that is today.  That's Monday (laughing).  Or Tuesday.  Today's Tuesday, so that's Tuesday.

Q.  Is Gentry out for the year?

Q.  Knee?
COACH KILL:¬† Yes.¬† So we'll red‑shirt him and get him better and be ready to proceed with him next year.¬† I don't know.¬† I think it's TODAY or maybe it's Thursday.¬† I don't even know what day it is, but I know we're doing it.¬† Got to understand, don't win, don't sleep.¬† Got to get better.

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