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October 7, 2014

Jerry Kill

THE MODERATOR:  Comments from Coach Kill.
COACH KILL:  Well, I don't know really what to say?  I don't know if there is anything I can say.  Anything for me, Darryl?  Help me out a little bit.  No comment?  Best thing, no comment.
Anyway, you know, we have gone into the off‑week, and I thought we did what we needed to do, our kids enjoyed last Sunday and Monday and after that they came in Tuesday.¬† You wouldn't have never known that we had won the last game or anything.¬† They came back to work, it's been the same group all year.¬† We lost to TCU; they just go to work.¬† I have been pleased with that.
We practiced well on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, gave them some time and went on Sunday to get that extra day, had good work on Sunday, so now Monday off and back to work today, and looking forward to going out and practicing and continue our preparation for Northwestern.  With that, open it up to questions.

Q. With Northwestern, Coach, dominating the way they had over Penn State and played well and beat Wisconsin last Saturday, what particularly impresses you about Northwestern and how they're playing right now?
COACH KILL: Well, you know, they always play hard.  They reflect their head coach.  I mean, Coach Fitz was a great linebacker, great intensity, and their football team reflects him.  They're always in the right place.  They always step up with big plays.  They have since he's been there.  They did it in the Wisconsin game.
They step up at the right times.¬† They make you drive the football and make you make a mistake.¬† They always hold field position through special teams.¬† They're just‑‑ they're in the right place at the right time and they're disciplined.¬† They don't make mistakes, and last two ballgames they've just played dominating football.¬† Their type of football.¬† They win doin' it.

Q.  Jerry, with a young team, sort of curious how your young guys would handle that "high" coming back from a game like that?
COACH KILL:  You always do as a Coach, wonder that, whether it's a younger team or veteran team, but I had no inkling to that whatsoever, the way we approached Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and we talked all year long about here is the goal, this is what you got to do to get there and I think they know it's very early in the season, and I think, to be honest with you, the way Northwestern is playing, they're on a role, we're similar football teams, really are and I think we try to win games similar ways and it's a huge game.  It's the next game on the schedule, but right now it's a big game for both teams so glad we're playing at home and we need that home field advantage.

Q.  Jerry, I know you want to look ahead to Northwestern, real quick, when your coaches dot back from recruiting what was the feedback you were getting from recruits about now that you've added Michigan to the list with Nebraska and Penn state as teams you've beaten?
COACH KILL:  I think certainly we're gaining credibility that we're moving in the right direction and I think it opens doors and people are talking about it and certainly in certain states, you know, and so it does nothing but help you, winning solves a lot of problems, no question about that and certainly in recruiting and always talk about you put time and go research the players, all those things, you search all over the place but the most important thing to do is win, because winning, you can do all that stuff and you're not successful, it's hard to get recruits, so concentrate, and I think that's what Bill Snyder does a great job of that, and they say, well, "Coach is late on this kid and that kid" and his answer is, "Just win!"
Q.How about that ESPN, how bought them rating you fourth in the power‑‑ in the Big Ten?
COACH KILL: I don't know anything about it, to be honest with you.

Q.  They have you ranked fourth in the Big Ten in power ranks on ESPN.com.
COACH KILLS:  I'll worry about all that stuff at the end of the year.  That tells you how educated I am, that's that Cheney education, so I didn't know anything about it.  All that's good.

Q.  How about TCU beating Oklahoma.
COACH KILL: I said they were pretty good.  They proved that.

Q.  Must make you feel pretty good, you lost to a pretty good team.
COACH KILL:  I feel good because I know Gary, I don't feel so good we turned the ball over five times but I'll try to put that out of my mind.

Q.  From a confidence standpoint, Michigan game must have been a plus for Mitch.
COACH KILL: If you look at players, David Cobb, we go back and how all of the sudden he's gained confidence and now he's off the board on confidence in what he's doing, I think you have to have success to get better and you have to have success on game day.  You can do great things in practice, but you got to be able to take 'em over to the game and when you have a good ball game, and you're successful at executing the game plan, all that does is build confidence and that's what you need to become a very good player, and the ones that play at a high level, once they get going and they develop the confidence that they can do this, this and this, is that they get better.  There is no question that helps the process of what we're trying to do.  We got a lot of processing to do yet but it certainly helps.

Q.  The bye week help you from a standpoint, getting a little extra time?
COACH KILL:  Yeah, it's guys like David Cobb was beat up pretty good, gives him a chance to get healthy, with several injuries you know, we held probably 12, 13 guys out.  To get them healed up.  However, Sunday was a different day in an offensive line, I think we had three offensive guards not practice, actually four, so for different reasons we're hoping we get two of the four ready to go and hopefully they will be back to work today.  That's what I've been told.  But, you like that continuity in the practicing and that continuity hurts you on game day sometimes so, it's heart of the game and certainly shuffling people around and stuff gives you more experience, that's the other way you look at it.  Take a negative, turn it into a positive and that's what we've done up front in the defensive line and those guys are playing at a high level, those young guys as well as the older kids.

Q.  Has Zac made the progress you wanted him to have on the ankle?
COACH KILL:¬† It's been slow.¬† That's a tough injury, Mitch's injury is a tough injury and anytime you have a high‑ankle sprain, guys take three, four weeks, sometimes longer, but he's a tough 'ol kid, I think everybody knows that, that's kinda his reputation.¬† This week it certainly helped him.¬† I think it's been whatever days it is and he's going to try to practice today a little bit, but we'll damn sure be careful.
Practice time‑‑ I had a kid at northern Illinois had the same situation and he couldn't‑‑ he would get about three reps on Thursday and play on Saturday and go right back into a boot and do it again, and he was a senior, so‑‑ not many can do that and you hate to see that, but accord to go our trainers, he's better, a lot better than he was, and that off‑week, that part of it helps a guy like that and Mitch for that matter.

Q.  You guys and Northwestern have dealt with injuries throughout the year but you've been able to still play at a high level.  What's the key to that?
COACH KILL: I think you know as a group of players, one gets hurt and we put the other one in and we don't change practice, we don't change what we do.  We may be a little smarter in how we do it and I think it's the attitude of the coach, how he approaches it, and you're going to have situations, you're going to have adversity, and like the New England patriots, guys won Super Bowl, great player and they were all after him and they just go, "win!"
I think they know how to handle adversity, and Northwestern has had adversity, we have had adversity and I think we just stay to the plan, don't try to create things or change the world, stay with your plan and believe in it.  I know we believe in what we're doing as a coaching staff and players and you just stay with it.  You be consistent as a coach.  We lost to TCU but we weren't any different.  We got to get better, beat Michigan and we came back and said great win but, you know, gotta get better.
So I think no matter what the results if you stay consistent as a coach, I think that helps those things.

Q.  How do you feel Mitch is moving?  How is Mitch's mobility?
COACH KILL:  I think it's that we wouldn't play him if it was a risk or anything like that.  I thought he moved well on Saturday.  So it's, again, a credit to him, but I thought he moved well.  We ran a lot of nakeds and boots and stuff to get him out of the pocket and move the pocket and help protections and so forth.  I thought he moved well, I really did.
I think that‑‑ I don't see anything different this week in practice, he practiced all week in the off‑week.

Q.  When you watch Cobb run just yards after contact and the way he refuses to go down, is that balance?  Strength?  What's the key?
COACH KILL:¬† I think probably both that you mentioned.¬† I think that's a good observation.¬† He's got great vision at the line of scrimmage, and he's got a knack of keeping his pad level down and then the strength in his legs, he's very strong down below and he's just‑‑ I think he's harder to tackle this year than he's ever been and we noticed that in camp.¬† I think he's worked so hard.¬† He's stronger, leaner, he put time in camp, staying out longer than everybody else.¬† I think the maturity‑‑ he wants to be good, he wants to be really good.¬† You gotta love football and that kid loves football.¬† I think the balance, the strength, and he's got a knack to get better as the game goes on.

Q.  How would you rank his speed?  Average or what?
COACH KILL:¬† I think it's good.¬† You know, it's‑‑ whether it's the National Football League or wherever it is, I think secondaries got so fast you don't see as many break‑away runs, if you really think about it.¬† You don't see that very often because of the secondaries.¬† But he's faster than he was a year ago because he's stronger and we've‑‑ I've been fortunate to have good backs and I think he's‑‑ the burst, he's got a great burst, Montee Ball he ran, what, 4.6?¬† Don't quote me on that, that's one of the deals, is he fast enough, and he got injured but he's played well and I would compare that to his speed and I believe that's good speed.¬† I don't know how fast the back is at Seattle, you know, but he gets yards.¬† I think you judge a back on his burst through the line of scrimmage and yards after contact, so he's an awful good player and he's getting better.¬† That's the thing I really notice, he's getting better and he's good pass protection, that's the other thing.¬† He's learned to do that because a lot of backs don't want to do that, he's good at pass protection.

Q.  California and Northern Illinois are solid teams but were you surprised that Northwestern struggled against them early on?
COACH KILL:¬† I think if you look at us you would say we struggled, too.¬† I think teams sometimes early in the year for whatever reason, timing, continuity, injuries, things of that nature, sometimes you get off to a slow start, until everybody comes together.¬† I think the key to‑‑ the season is long in college football so I think the key is that you keep improving each week, and disregard‑‑ everything that happens just get better and get better, you know, as you hit the Big Ten and just keep climbing the mountain.¬† There are certain teams in our league that do a heck of a job of that.¬† Iowa does a good job of that each year, everybody goes, "ahhh,"¬† and they just keep climbing.¬† I think the key to it is your approach and you gotta have the approach and you gotta get better every week and if you have a set‑back you got to recover from that, so I think we're all like that to a concern extent.

Q.  Coach, what does the Michigan win do for your team confidencewise?  Is everybody going to walk around with a certain beat in their step?
COACH KILL:¬† I wish I could‑‑ they're excited, and so forth, but our administrator over football, is up there‑‑ I haven't really‑‑ it certainly gives you confidence, it has to, you go on the road and win and those kinds of things so I think deep down I'm sure.¬† I think everybody feels more confident from coaching staff to players but as far as visually showing it, I haven't seen a difference.¬† We practice faster, more like we‑‑ like we were earlier in the year but I think that's because of the off week, I think some of them got their legs back underneath them and we practice at a speed I would like to see us practice at on Sunday because we got the catapult system and it works.¬† I can see us working at a faster rate and when I say faster rate I mean playing with more speed and I think we played fast at Michigan but we can play faster.

Q.  Where is the jug right now?
COACH KILL:¬† I think it's on State turf right now.¬† It's in here some but I think it's traveling.¬† I said that was the State's jug so I think it's got appointments.¬† I know I have been told earlier in the week I couldn't get an appointment, so I think the President overrules the head football coach, so I think it's been moving around and it's certainly great for our fans in the state, but with that being said, there is a lot of other things we need to accomplish, and that's a great one, but this week I can't emphasize the importance of this week and the weeks to come, because it's a long season.¬† That's how we've approached it but there is no question that‑‑ I don't think any of us‑‑ I'm not from the state of Michigan but to play in a game like that, the tradition and so forth, everybody should enjoy that, with every win, you know?¬† We need too enjoy it, and I've said all along, it's not Coach Kill's football team it's the State's football team, they've invested in the University and the team and it's their team.
THE MODERATOR:  Thanks, Coach.

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