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October 21, 2014

Jerry Kill

COACH KILL: Appreciate everybody coming out today and I think the biggest thing is right now we're hard at work preparing for Illinois.  From an offensive standpoint Coach Cubit is a nightmare to prepare for.  We've known him for a long time as a head coach of Western Michigan.  And he's given us fits with all the things he does.  He's got two weeks to prepare for us and another quarterback.  I've seen him playing two quarterbacks, two both completely different styles.
So defensively it's a big challenge for us.  It's always hard as a defensive coordinator right now with all the different things that you see in college football.
And from an offensive standpoint, they're a football team that does a lot of blitzing.  And you've got to spend a lot of time over the next few days picking up all the blitzes that you're going to see.  So it's going to be a week that we've got to have great preparation.  And then we need to continue to improve on some fundamentals.
So with that, I'll take any questions.

Q.  Coach, can you talk a little bit about Mitch's development?
COACH KILL: I think Mitch is, just like anything, I said that he would progress.  And I think the biggest thing, again, he's able to do that, he's been able to set his feet and the protection is better.  We've protected him better.  And when a quarterback gets protection he feels more comfortable and then he becomes more accurate.  There's not very many quarterbacks that are very successful when they're on their back or they're scrambling around.  There's a few, Johnny Manziel, of course, when he was playing A&M, he ran all over the place.
But for the most part you've got to get your feet set and get a chance to throw.  When he gets his feet set and doesn't have a lot of pressure he throws the ball pretty efficiently.  And he can throw the ball down field.  But certainly probably the biggest plus we threw at several different receivers, and I think that's the most important thing.

Q.  How is Ryan doing with the new found fame?
COACH KILL: He doesn't say too much.  He's a pretty quiet kid.  He doesn't say too much.  He doesn't say much when he makes a field goal.  He doesn't say much when he kicks off.  And he's struggled with a couple of kickoffs.  I just don't say anything to him.  He knows what he needs to do.  Those kickers and punters, they have coaches in the summer, all those kind of things.  So I just try not to screw them up.  But he just doesn't say much.  I guess he's handling it pretty good.

Q.  Has recruiting the kicker become anymore of a priority for you anymore recently?
COACH KILL: No, we've always had ‑‑ we've always recruited kickers.¬† We've always had our specialists on scholarship.¬† It's always been important.¬† Finding them or finding one that can do it on game day is the most difficult to do.
And then sometimes there will be a great kicker in high school, but the protection is not good or they don't have a very good holder.  Most of them now are coming out of camps and it's people who you know.  I know somebody that's helped us on two or three kickers that I trust.  But everybody asks that question, but until you get to game day and they go through the goal post or they can kick it out of the end zone, that's the only time you really evaluate it.
There's also a lot that goes it into the two people that you don't talk about and that's the snapper and the holder.  Because the snapper, you've got to have a good snap and to kick a football you've got to get the laces.  You can't be spinning the ball all the time.  Our snapper has been able to get the laces and Pete gets the ball down good.  You've got to hit it on the exact spot.  If it doesn't hit an inch from that spot the kicker is going to miss.  Sometimes you see a kicker miss, and you say the kicker is not very good.  But a lot of it has to do with the hold and the snap.

Q.  When Cedric got hurt and then there was the scrum after that, just in terms of a teaching moment, how do you handle the balance of like you want your guys to stick up for each other and be tough and all that, and not get pushed around?
COACH KILL:¬† There's a lot of teaching points about it.¬† Didn't last very long on Sunday.¬† You've got to be smart.¬† You've got to be able to ‑‑ in football or anything like it, you better be able to control your emotions or you get in trouble.
So you've got to be able to control your emotions, you've got to be smart.  Protecting your teammate and all that stuff is good.  Pulling him out of there and so forth.  But usually the emotion of a football game everybody gets tangled up in there and something happens and you're protecting.  But you can go sit out the next week.  You sit out the game, you get a great player sitting out a game, that's not going to help anybody.
So you've got to talk to him about it all the time.  But football is a game of emotion.  And sometimes things happen.  But our jobs as coaches, we need to do everything we can to prevent it.  Because the worse thing we can do is have a great player sitting on the sideline.  And on college football there's more and more emphasis so you better coach it and teach it.  We certainly talked about it on Sunday.

Q.  You haven't heard from anybody about Dirk?
HEAD COACH KILL: No, he's substituting in.  As long as you substitute in, and so forth.  When he comes in and dead ball and all those things, realized.  But, yeah, I've talked to the people in charge.  And that's part of that teaching moment.  And that's what you do.  And that's one young man we certainly talked to.  And actually talked to him right after the game.  And also talked to another young man.  But it's called teaching moments.

Q.  Speaking of those teaching moments, you probably had a lot of those games you had against Purdue where you don't play your best throughout, but you're still able to win.  Are you still able to kind of get across to your players, get a picture, even, that there's a lot of things that need to be tightened up out there?
COACH KILL: I don't think that's the problem.  We addressed that on Sunday, too.  I think that, again, give Purdue credit.  I said throughout the week that there's a good chance we'd have to get to 30s to win because of what they did to Michigan State.  With that being said, There's a lot of things we need to clean up.  You have to take care of business.
We've had we've been consistent all year at practicing.  And I mentioned something when I was on the radio show talking about that and then Thursday, Thursday afternoon it was not as clean as it has been.  And I wasn't very happy on Thursday and so forth.  So I can promise you Tuesday and Wednesday and Thursday will be very clean.

Q.  They attempted 272 passes, is that a problem of them trying to catch up?
A.That's coach /KAO*UB, that's what he likes to do.  However, he's a great person adjusting to the personnel that he has.  So with the quarterback situation, he has a running quarterback, he's great at being able to fit packages with those quarterbacks, but he'd like to throw it.  But he also is smart enough that if the situation arises that they need to run the ball he's smart enough to scheme it up there.
He's a big person, switching people on and off.¬† He's done a great job there.¬† From a year ago offensively, they're always scoring points offensively.¬† He just does a lot of things.¬† There's a lot of little gimmick things he does, that you've got to settle in on defense a little bit.¬† And same way with Purdue.¬† And some of the things that happened halftime that you had to do against Purdue because of the little stuff, that gimmick‑wise, that can give you problems on defense.

COACH KILL: Well, when I say gimmicks, I don't mean an offense that can adjust, you go in a week and you prepare something and then they'll do something out a bunch of different formations, but they'll do the same things, and then they may switch a right on you, Leach is good at that, you know, Texas, Texas Tech had been great at that.  We may have been running curl post, and but we may run a dig with it, things like that.
So you have to be more, I guess, basic in what you do.  And make sure that you can cover all the different route concepts and also run concepts.  So it makes you be a little bit more basic in what you do, and that's why they do it.

Q.  How do you evaluate the progression of the wide receivers?
COACH KILL: Well, I mean, I think that part of that, again, is us being productive when we throw the football and so forth.  And I think just like anything the coaching staff is more confidence, and better progressions, more confidence in the receivers, and route running.  So I think they're progressing very good.  And I think that as we go it will continue to have to progress.  I mean the whole football team, offensively we've gotten better, but we have a whole long way to go to do the things that we need to do down the stretch.
So that area will have to continue to progress and still be able to run the ball.¬† But at the end of the day we're going to have to be able to throw the football to help the running game.¬† We did that ‑‑ we progressed in that on Saturday and we hit some big plays, but we're going to have to continue to hit some big plays down the field and we're going to have to throw the ball 35, 36, you've got to be able to complete.¬† And we struggled in that early in the year.¬† And I think, again, we're gaining confidence in that.
But part of that goes out to practice and timing.  We're a little bit late on throws on Saturday on some things that we had open.  But in college football and even more so in the NFL, that ball has to get out on time, if it doesn't, the defensive backs are too good in college football to close down on it, but even better in the NFL.  You don't throw it in time in the NFL you're going to have trouble.  That's hard to find those quarterbacks to do that.  You have to play full speed all the time in practice.

Q.  Is there a sense with your guys that the stakes have gone up?
COACH KILL: We don't talk about it much.  We take one game at a time, I know it's a cliché.  But I've said every game you play is a game that's important.  It's a championship game and you've got to take care of that game.  But we don't talk about it.  We talked about that early in the year.
But they're smart enough to know all that.  I don't have to tell them.  The social media, all that stuff, they know the stakes go up.  They know that.  So I really don't have to say so much about it.  My job is to make sure they do what they need to throughout the week, and then they have to perform on Saturday.  And that's my job.  And that's what they need to do.
Winning is preparation in my opinion, it's the preparation during the week, then they have to carry it over to the game.  And then if things don't go right, then the coaching staff has got to do a good job getting it straightened out, do a good job making things straightened out when you're dealing with young man, and getting it translated out to the field is not always good, but that's our job.

Q.¬† Would you say the Michigan game was the most complete game you played as a team.¬† And if so, is there a sense with this coaching staff that you got to 6‑1 without maybe even your best potential effort?
COACH KILL: Probably.  I'd say probably, but I'd say for us that we have a whole lot more to improve, to be a really, really good team.  We just do.  And so are we close to being as good as we can be?  No.  No, we're not.  So we have a lot of room for improvement.  You can see that on film in all three phases.  The offensive line, we started three different offensive guards.  And Foster Bush is coming back off a concussion, so he'll be back this week.  So it's been a revolving door as an offensive line.
So if we've got to continue that offensive line, hasn't played our best game with last week, and Joe Bjorklund did a heck of a good job.  We've got to continue to get consistency.  And fundamentally we've got to improve.  We've got to improve with our hands, with tackling, we've got to improve in throwing and catching the ball, all those things, to be a really good team.  But I think anybody in this point in the season is probably saying the same thing.  And there are some teams that are peaking right now and are on a roll, really going.  Each week is a different week in college football.  And we find that out every Saturday.  You've got to play every week.

Q.  You mentioned all the different thing offenses do now.  Has there ever been a point in off season that you thought you would dabble in that?
COACH KILL: I think we're always working as far as we go all over the place, Coach Claeys is talking to people, we talk all the time.  It's kind of like the NFL.  Even they call college coaches now, because they're running the zone read in pro football.  And they're not used to seeing the zone read in pro football.  They want to know, hey, what are you doing on the zone read play.  There's constant communication with those defensive coaches right now.  You go to certain conferences, they're all spread out, certain conferences are more run oriented, some are both.  So it's difficult.
You're trying to figure out ‑‑ a lot of it has to do with recruiting.¬† You go in, you're playing all these spread offenses, and then all of a sudden you line up against a Wisconsin that's going to go downhill.¬† So you've got to be built for that a little bit.¬† And you're playing spread, playing six defensive backs, five defensive backs, and you've got to get three linebackers in a box.¬† Somebody may have to play that hasn't been playing.¬† You've got to keep them sharp.¬† And that's why we try to rep everybody.¬† But that's what makes it difficult.
Now when you're recruiting, you're recruiting ‑‑ you've got to have 8, 9 defensive backs that can play, but also you have to have about 8 linebackers, and a couple of them have to be more plug linebackers, 230, 240, that can come downhill.¬† They may not play every game.¬† We've got some guys that haven't played a lot that will have to play in those situations coming down the stretch.
And we've spent some time in the spring ball working against other teams that do some of that stuff, to try to get it carried over.  But that's what makes it tough in college football.  Pro football, teams are pretty similar.  And that's why you can see players go from one team to another, the terminology is the biggest difference.  But in college football you're seeing everything.  So it's a lot of work and you've got to be sound across the board in what you do.

Q.  How did the players react to being ranked in the coach's policy?
COACH KILL: I haven't talked about it.  We met on Sunday, and Sunday afternoon and we went to work.  To me the more you talk about it the more one thing one way or one way the other.  We talked about the game that we played on Saturday.  And we talked about the positives in the football game and we spent a lot of time in the film room in what wasn't so good that we needed to improve.
Because the only thing that matters to the coach is we can ‑‑ it's great to be excited, all those kind of things, gaining confidence, that's good, finding ways to win.¬† Sometimes you've just got to find a way to win.¬† And we did that.
But as coaches, the only thing that matters is at the end of the season where you're at, really.¬† You've got to keep your players grounded, this is what you need to do, and you find out how mature a team you have is or we have.¬† We have to coach that up.¬† We can't worry about all the other stuff because they already know about it.¬† Maybe in the old days you'd have to, but in the new days, they already know.¬† And you say, hey, did that put more pressure on them?¬† Sure it does.¬† They talk about it.¬† But we talk about you don't do what you're supposed to, that's called don't last very long.¬† So you better take care of business and what you do from a day‑to‑day and a weekly basis, playing the game.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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