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October 27, 2014

Kevin Wilson

COACH WILSON:  Again, had open date, not a lot to talk about.  Couple practices, a lot of guys got some ill time, some young guy work.  Same time with two open dates, later in the year, a little different mindset.  So I think we did okay.
Had some work last night from not having a game to review, so we had some work last night, got off to a good start.  Coaches recruited a little bit.  Looked a lot at ourselves.
We didn't really start Michigan until last night because typically you just kind of work the week, so last week, a little bit about us, trying to get our guys fresh, get them healthy, a little bit of young guy work, a lot of work with the quarterbacks.  Figuring out things we like with those guys in a situation and looking forward to a tremendous opportunity and challenge to go to Michigan on Saturday.  Questions.

Q.  What is the biggest challenge going to Michigan, especially with a freshman quarterback who hasn't played in front of that kind of crowd.  There's no real way to recreate that.  What is the biggest challenge?
COACH WILSON:  You know, we do enough all the time with our snap counts and communication, with even, whatever you say, just with the music, you know, to get used to communicating.  So you try to facilitate the communicating as you play.  You know, of course, he's been with us on the road, so he's been in arenas, but hasn't been under fire except the one game at home.
So you know, all you do is you talk about what you can control.  If you can control your communication, get everybody on the same page, make sure our snap counts and handle the ball, then it just goes back to keeping your eyes on the field and not getting caught up with what's going on around it.
At the same time you can make too much of it, I'm sure.  You know, a guy thinks he understands what it's like to play against a good opponent.  Until you get out there and like, wow, happened a little faster and I get a little hyped and a little quick, like last game.  So until he and the team keeps going through things.
But a lot of guys have been through it.  He'll just have to manage it.  We'll have to put him in good situations the best we can.  But he'll have to manage some things, ebb and flow, good and bad.  I'm sure he'll have some poor plays; he's gotta manage it.  I'm sure he'll do some good things and don't get too hyped up.  Above all we'll just put our plan together, talk about what we can control, put him in a good situation to go play.

Q.  What did you like about the way your team approached?
COACH WILSON:  Well, again, we came in Sunday after the last game and looked at really just what, you know, we thought we could address or look at from a video standpoint.  Didn't really physical work.  We did our physical work on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.  Had one long, good practice day.  The rest of the time was some lifting and some installation, instruction walk through, not as physical of stuff.  And last night typically when we don't have a hard practice, we had a pretty good go.
So we had talked in advance of the thought process.¬† The guys had a couple days based on their academic schedule.¬† We didn't do anything Friday except classes.¬† Saturday was off.¬† So if you're local, you had a chance to get home.¬† There was some guys wanted to see some family members, hadn't been home in a couple of months, because we kept them here the first open date, it was so early.¬† So the first open date was like a workweek.¬† This was like a little bit of a get‑fresh week for the five weeks remaining.¬† We got a lot in front of us with a trip to Michigan, Penn State coming here, our first trip East Coast to New York, going to Columbus and then finish with the bucket game.¬† So there's a lot of football to play.¬† We talked about that, showed them that.¬† Just had our thought process in getting ready to have as good of week as we can for our Michigan prep.

Q.  Where are you guys from an injury standpoint?
COACH WILSON:¬† Nothing has changed.¬† You know, Jason Spriggs is doing some light work and should play.¬† We'll see as we really work tomorrow, Wednesday.¬† He's been out there every day, and at the same time we haven't overdone it, and basically he just got‑‑ went into almost that side ‑‑ not being a doctor, but I would say it was more of a whiplash hit.¬† Wasn't a concussion.¬† Wasn't really stinger, nerve related.¬† Just some spasming in the upper shoulder, so I think he'll be fine.¬† Everybody else is pretty good.
And the way we did things in practice, we had one really good, old‑fashioned, almost like a preseason or a spring ball practice last week.¬† We had a really good go last night with a lot of energy that I was very excited about.¬† Thought our old players handled it good.
But we didn't do a lot last week where anything's worse.  I think we're a lot better, a lot fresher, and we'll see how we stack up this Saturday.

Q.  Did Mangieri get hurt?
COACH WILSON:¬† Yeah.¬† He got a knee, kind of just got a little bit of a high‑low.¬† He came back, tried to play.¬† We thought he was gimpy.¬† He's been practicing.¬† I wouldn't say he's full tilt yet, but I think by the time we go Tuesday, Wednesday, we'll see.¬† And you got Zack Shaw and Robert McCray played the rest of that Michigan State in the second half.¬† So we're three deep there.¬† He was practicing last night.¬† I still think coaches are trying to be smart in situations, and his confidence and strength level as we go this week.¬† He should be good.

Q.  What are your impressions on Michigan?
COACH WILSON:¬† Very good on defense.¬† Statistically week after‑‑ they're sitting at a record that's I'm sure not what they like, but now the game they've lost to five teams that are ranked or have played pretty good football if you look at it.¬† I think Rutgers now maybe is at 5 and 3.¬† You know, they beat Penn State at their place, but lose to Utah that's rated.¬† Notre Dame is rated.¬† Michigan State has been playing awfully good.¬† Minnesota was rated.¬† They've played a tough schedule.¬† Very, very stout on defense.¬† Very good in run defense.
Offensively they lit us up last year and had a big game.  They struggled a little bit.  The quarterback has made plays, has been very dynamic against us.  Funchess, the receiver, one of the better players in the league, a top pro prospect kind of guy.  I think they've had a couple running back injuries, but when they've played, they've played well.  I think the win they had outing before last was very, very solid against Penn State and evident by the way they won.
I think last week they were playing solid ball, a little bit like we did against Michigan State, maybe ran out of a little bit of gas.  Michigan State is a good team, but I think they're very solid, I think it's going to be a strong test for us.

Q.  Again, is this a game that really (indiscernible) like this every week, the defense really needs to step up to take some pressure off the offense?
COACH WILSON:¬† For sure.¬† And you know, we've, again, we have played the last couple years when we have played well, our defense has had a very large part of that.¬† Whether you can take the numbers and skew it, but when we've played good run defense and we have had stops, third‑down stops and minimize points, we've had our successful games, so whether it be this week, the following week, weeks to come, and that's been a point of‑‑ not because we're playing a young quarterback or the offense isn't playing quite as good as we would like for it to play, but our defense needs to continue to improve and step up, and it gives us a better chance of winning; and as we put our game plan together, we gotta put it together, structured in a way that gives us some chances, but they need to get some stops, and they've shown it sometimes, but we gotta be a lot more consistent.¬† So I'd love to see it this week, but if not this week, like to start seeing those guys really step up.¬† We've talked about it, we've addressed it, had a good start with our practice last night.¬† I'd like to see those guys play a lot better‑‑ I'd like to see them just play up to their capabilities, which I think will give us a chance to be competitive and have a chance to win games.

Q.  Is the quarterback open competition or are you still pretty much committed to sanders starting?
COACH WILSON:¬† I guess he may be goes up there first unless we have a poor week, but I don't know, again, if there's ever a point where anyone's got anything ironed up.¬† So I wouldn't say it's like he's‑‑ you know, he needs to play well.
And again, last game we had some guys open, and he didn't play poorly.¬† I didn't like‑‑ the ball got loose a little bit a couple of times, didn't haunt him, but moving forward good.¬† He just got, to me, just a little out of rhythm, hyper missing things that were there.¬† So we've worked, even though the team didn't do a lot, we actually did some extra stuff with our quarterbacks to just try and increase their time on task, their rhythm, their meeting time, et cetera, without falling within the Guidelines, but for example the kids had Friday off and Saturday off, but I know the young quarterbacks actually got a little bit of work, just kind of keep them moving along just with some fundamental stuff.¬† So we'll see.¬† Right now, it's not his job to lose, but it's his job to play better and help us win.

Q.  How important was (indiscernible) for you for kicking so he could have a little rest and wrap his head around the position?
COACH WILSON:¬† Yeah, again, next year we'll be on a 13‑week schedule, one bye; this year it's two.¬† I think we had talked a lot with our team that this week was weeks ago was set up to be a week to try to get us to a point to finish strong, because we thought the last five games would be critical to our season; the road trip this week, Penn State coming in, two more road trips and a bucket game.
So we kind of targeted weeks ago that last week was a key week to get our football team physically and mentally right.  Now, some things have always happened with injuries that you have to overcome.  So we're at a different place with the quarterback deal, so maybe we've heightened his awareness or urgency, not him, just him, Nate, Danny Cameron, all the guys we're working at, because again, we gotta play well at that position.  At the same time they will play well when the supporting cast plays better.
Each game we've had one or two drops that have been big‑play drops.¬† We've had scoring opportunities; we've had defensive opportunities with some picks and turnovers we've let them off the board.¬† So the team's gotta play better for the quarterback, too.¬† It's not just about Zander playing better.¬† Those quarterbacks always look good when the team plays well, and we're going to need the team to pick it up.
That being said, they'll do better.  So I think it's not pressure.  It's just down the stretch good teams play better, winning teams play better.  We've talked about that early in the year.  If we're a good program, we continue to improve, and that's our challenge, to make sure we improve and play our best this week and the weeks to come.

Q.  For Danny in particular, though, three weeks ago he didn't think he was going to be playing this year, and now he's starting quarterback starting at Michigan.  For him in particular just that week to kind of wrap his head around everything he has to do, how important is that?
COACH WILSON:  Well, I would trust if a guy's playing here, that if he's thinking he's not playing, then he's not helping us win, because if that's your thought process, then you've got ground you can't make up.
So you need to ask him if three weeks ago he thought he was never playing, because if that's the case, we'd have had him on the scout team and told him he was with us, he was traveling.  The reps are limited because you got ones and twos, but the thought process all along, that's why he graduated and came here early.  I don't think he graduated in January to come here and sit out.  So that would be a question I guess you might want to address to him because I don't know what his thought process was, other than ours is everyone's gotta answer the call when ready.
In the first game I think he got a little bit hyper.  Had a great week of practice.  You can talk about that till you're blue in the face.  You gotta go play.  Now he's played.  We'll see how we go to week two.  It's going to be on the road.  That's a different challenge, another very, very good defense.
And again, we're not going to be a team‑‑ we've gotta play the field; we gotta get the ball in space, we gotta get it down the field, in the perimeter.¬† We gotta do things we do.¬† You don't change mid season to be completely different.¬† You emphasize things you can do well, but he's gotta throw the ball.¬† He's gotta do more than that.¬† The protection, the run game and his receivers and tight ends gotta play well, and the defense has gotta get him the ball.
So I would trust our players that are red shirting aren't waiting till next year, because he who waits doesn't win in college football.  You're getting better.  And I would hope he's been getting better.  That's what we tell him.  You need to ask him what his thoughts.  I know how he's coached.  We'll see how he plays.

Q.  (Indiscernible)?  (Question regarding Zander being available).
COACH WILSON:  Yeah.  I mean, I don't know.  The story on Zander is he threw for 11 yards.  He needs to work instead of talk.  Let his play talk, so I'll talk for him.

Q.  I hear a lot about Danny Cameron needing more snaps.
COACH WILSON:  Yeah.  He's kind of in that role Zander was.  He's kind of three with Nate.  He was doing some scout stuff, so now he's kind of in the mix in that emergency role per se.  He was a guy that we got a lot of extra stuff with in individual and film time here as we, you know, did a few extra things to try to help those guys.
But he's the third behind Nate, and it's just because of time on task.¬† He didn't get as much in the summer.¬† We're pleased with him.¬† We wouldn't have offered him‑‑ we offered him because we thought he could help us in case some things happened.¬† So at the time when the situation happened in the summer, and all of a sudden we had a void at quarterback, we looked around; we thought that was an option that could help us.¬† Right now he's our third.
So he's getting some reps, a lot of individual, a lot more work, a lot more film study, a lot more in the meeting time.  He's with the varsity, but it's limited to game reps because Zander and Nate need those just like earlier it was Sudfeld and Covington.

Q.  Does his football background help a little?
COACH WILSON:¬† Yeah.¬† I mean, quite honestly, there are some things‑‑ that's a good question‑‑ where his comments and conversations show he's been around it, because sometimes he'll actually say something or see something quicker when you're sitting next to him than Zander and Nate would.¬† So his dad's a coach.
At the same time, you know, I did a little bit with the quarterbacks this week extra, and I had my two kids there.  My little guy was the center.  So he's snapping.  Does that mean he's going to be a good center?  I don't know.
At the same time, you know, as a dad, sometimes you like to be a dad and not coach your kids, so I don't know how much Cam really coached his kids.  Sometimes as a coach be careful you don't force your kids to play ball.  You find them.
He's been around it a lot.¬† He's been around a lot of great players.¬† And he's very, very smart.¬† At the same time, you know, I think he developed late in high school and he's developing now.¬† I think there's a lot of physical development he's going through.¬† He's grown.¬† He's getting more mature.¬† He's got a solid football mind for a young guy, but he's young, and to say because his dad's a coach he's got it all ‑‑ really the thing is you can sit there and watch tape all the time.¬† I always say ‑‑ I can run it back 20 times and say in a minute what you should have done, but when you're playing ground level, here it is, view up high, you can see everything, but when you're ground level and the vision of seeing guys going backwards, forwards, crossing, things coming at you, things going sideways, and to feel and see spaces, some guys can see that and process that; and you can watch a lot of tape, but you gotta have the ability to have that vision on the field, and some guys that are, quote, football smart in a film study cannot see that on the field, and that's the thing, you know, Danny hadn't played as much.¬† I know he's a very football‑smart guy, but his time on task of reps is limited, just like Zander.
So what do you see when you play?¬† That's a question we ask him all the time that I don't know.¬† Like what are you seeing and what are you thinking?¬† Are you thinking you're not playing?¬† Did you think the corner‑‑ you think the safety rotated strong.¬† What do you see and what do you think?
And when you're dealing with young players, that's just one of our best ways of coaching is really to understand what they're thinking, what they're seeing so we can kind of get on the same page, instead of telling them what to do, you need to understand what they see and think.  I think that's the key to coaching that position.

Q.  Any thoughts about putting cameras on their helmets?
COACH WILSON:¬† Yeah.¬† Every time I look at that, I get‑‑ I've never been a motion‑sickness guys, but every time I watch a film of them getting their butt ‑‑ I almost get motion sick.¬† Like I'm not a car sick or air sick dude, but it bounces so much, I don't know how you see things, because the guy is moving around and all that deal.
We haven't done it.  Some guys do it.  A lot of great coaches have.  We haven't done that Go Pro stuff on the helmet yet.  But one of the things we do do in practice, even though you might only have one guy throwing, the second and third quarterback stand behind and they play the play because I might be five yards or six yards deep in the quarterback, but I can see things, and we can tell right there without a ball, hey, why did you throw, because he actually throws without a ball.  Hey, you're throwing here and the rotation is here.  Shouldn't you be going this way.
So we try to cheat the system.¬† But I've never been a Go Pro guy, just, you know, it just‑‑ I don't know.¬† I start running around.¬† Have you guys ever looked at that, don't you think it looks a little‑‑ I mean it's hard.
I think the worst thing you can do is tell the guy what he sees.  I'm showing you what I see, but what did you see and then it's teaching how to get their eyes where they need to go and really how to clear clutter out of your mind, what are you thinking.
Like a comment after last game, what did you‑‑ well, I thought the linebackers‑‑ whoa, whoa, the linebackers aren't a problem here.¬† We've gotta block.¬† They're not a concern.¬† Your concern is out here, why are you thinking‑‑ that's clutter.¬† So now I want to eliminate that thought process because that's wasted info and that's causing your timing, rhythm, your read to be off because you're thinking about things that don't exist.

Q.  Indiana did some nice things for (indiscernible).  Is there an opportunity to do that during the bye week?
COACH WILSON:  Yeah, I'm going to be doing that for several weeks.  There's been like a Twitter go out.  I don't know if you guys follow our football stuff, but you guys have been Twittering out about four, five, six weeks the number of stats, number of yards.  I think we had a chance with our crew downstairs, I think it was actually our football guys that did the football video that they shared because our video guys do a great job, Joel and Brent and his crowd.  We had a chance open date to throw some clips together.
But we've been, I think, putting out some stuff; and not only does it go local, but sometimes I know we're doing stuff that goes around to people that look at accolades and honors and kind of keep that moving forward.
I think we started that, you know‑‑ and not just for him.¬† We started a year ago with the receivers and things those guys are doing.¬† We use it a lot in recruiting, because everything that we put out public, and it's a public channel commitment uses a recruiting device.¬† So I know our guys downstairs is part of our recruiting department.¬† I know we work a lot with our sports information guys how to tag branding to sell the product and what we're trying to get done.

Q.  (No microphone).
COACH WILSON:  And you're saying that for?

Q.  (No microphone)?
COACH WILSON:  Well, no.  We're sitting at three and four.  It's not as good as you want, and disappointed.  At the same time we've shown some good things, and there's some other teams that have comparable records that seem to have positive energy.  I want to make sure our guys do.
And that's what we talked about last night.¬† Okay.¬† I'd like to‑‑ I can't go backwards and change the result.¬† But we can go forward.¬† When we've played hard, we've been very competitive, we've had some success; and with the games to come, they're going to be difficult challenges, but if you play hard, you got a chance for some success.
So I don't think you play hard Saturday just by talking about it with the pre‑game speech or the night before.¬† At the same time I don't think we need to over practice, because we got two‑a‑days; we've now played seven games, open dates now.¬† This is now the tenth week of the season, not counting preseason.¬† So being said, what are you doing to create your energy.
So I mean to me, we haven't won there in a long, long time.  It's a great program that we've not had a lot of success with previously, but it's this team this year, and we're sitting at three and four.  They're three and five.  They've lost to some great teams.
It's a prideful program, a great program.  They're going to play their tails off, always have, always will.  We're going to have to do the same thing if we want to step up and start having success.  All we've talked about is there's a lot to play for, not to feel sorry for ourselves, not to have any excuses about anything.  Our season is where it is and there's five weeks, a lot to play for.  Let's play as hard as we can and do the best we can.
We've had a plan through the season of how to go through practice, how to build, we're at a point right now, 3 and 4, how to keep building and have a great week up here at Ann Arbor.

Q.  (No microphone)?
COACH WILSON:¬† You guys said we couldn't be a bowl team, but I think if we‑‑ at 8 and 4 we wouldn't be, 7 and 5 maybe 6 and 6.¬† Of course it's based on fans that go to games, if somebody wants to pick you.¬† So there's five games.

Q.  (No microphone)?
COACH WILSON:  Michigan only has four.  They're 3 and 5.

Q.  (No microphone)?
COACH WILSON:  I've talked about that because my thing, I heard a coach saying weeks ago that as a senior we're not looking to the future and we're not thinking about the past.  We're thinking about right now, this week.  And that's what I'm saying for these seniors those guys have worked hard and they've got five weeks and five great opportunities.
Going to Ann Arbor, you come to BIG TEN, you want to play in those games and you got a chance back‑to‑back years to go play there, enjoy the opportunity, enjoy the challenge, playing one of the winningest programs, I think it was if not is the winningest program in college football.¬† I think it is.¬† Then you come back and you're playing Penn State another historical program, won their last two home games.
Our first trip to the East Coast, great chance going to Rutgers and the excitement and energy of East Coast, what it's bringing to the BIG TEN; going to Columbus, one of the premier programs in college football again and then finish off with our rival.  So with five weeks to go, three and four, we came out of open date, talked about getting fresh, talked about focusing on what Zander, our guys can do, and we talked about what there was to play for, and we think there's a lot to play for.
And bottom line, all we're playing for is this week, today, this week, this prep and Michigan.  And that's all we're concentrating on and playing for and having a good week and going and play as hard as we can and see how that matches up against their program.

Q.  (No microphone)?
COACH WILSON:  No doubt.  And they do it in a couple different looks.  Great question.  And they do it sometimes without necessarily loading the box.
Now, again, they can do that if they want to based on our passing game, but they play good D and not cheating as much as some guys.  That's a credit to their front.  Their defensive front is awesome.  Two really good linebackers, one of the better players in our conference and country.
So we've played some good run defenses, but you look at who we're getting ready to play.¬† We're getting ready to play three or four of the best in our league right in a row and so we played a couple good ones, and you know, we have had some, quote, good rushing stats but it's been total yards and not consistency.¬† And if you're not consistent in the run game, you're getting third‑and‑longs; if you're getting third‑and‑longs, you get off the field.¬† You get off the field, your defense gets tired, and those things kind of get us not playing the way we need to play.
So it's not just running the ball and these guys are having a run number, []it's trying to find some consistencies, some first downs and some touchdowns and keep our defense off the field, and that'll be a challenge.

Q.  Michigan has a veteran quarterback in Gardner.  When you look at him, what makes him a challenge?
COACH WILSON:  Well, he's a very athletic guy, and at the same time he's played, I think they've tried to pick their spots of when to use him in the run game.  You know, last year a couple times we had him hemmed in and then we didn't get a hand on him, on some third downs and some chances to make some stops.
When he gets on in his passing game, you know, he threw for more yards than anybody can ever throw against us last year.  So he's played a lot.  He's a veteran, he's one of the premier players in the country and some other good receivers.  If their run game gets going, it really makes it difficult because there's any moment they can do both, because his experience at quarterback and a couple of their receivers, if their running game gets going and they can have balance, like any offense they can be very, very difficult.
That's what happened last year.¬† They had a great passing game, but they ran the ball well enough to have the rhythm.¬† And that's a little bit of our problem now.¬† Can we run the ball consistently enough not pop two or three home runs, but if you run the ball consistently the box would start to get loaded, you have easy passing.¬† If you don't do that, you're a one‑dimensional team.¬† When they've been a two‑dimensional team, they've been a very good offense.¬† We're the same way.¬† When we've been two‑dimensional and consistent run, we've been okay.¬† I think that's every offense‑‑ not every.¬† That's most offenses in college ball.¬† That's the defense's struggle.
And so again, they've got a much better run defense than we have been.  So to me, yeah, we've ran it on paper a little bit better in yards.  Sometimes that's just those big plays.
So it's going to be a game of consistency.¬† It's going to be a difficult challenge for us, and again, with his experience, being a fifth‑year kid, if he gets rolling, he's one of the better players in our conference at quarterback.

Q.  Speaking of freshmen, how fresh is this team?
COACH WILSON:¬† We tried to really work that through through the year.¬† You got some young guys and you want to get ‑‑ that's why someone said like, where are the seniors and how are they doing things.¬† My thing is you want to be leaving out here these last three, four, five, six, seven, eight weeks the best you've ever practice, the best energy, the best effort, the best body language, the best attitude because we're not going to overdo your practice.¬† Trust us in what we're doing.
So we've done a lot in our format.  We've changed some things to transfer into playing better.  My concern is we've been inconsistent in play.  So I'm telling those guys, hey, it's your end to hold your end of the bargain.  We stayed true with what we're going to do, with where this program is as far as how we're going to practice you.  You've gotta hold your end of the bargain with not going through the motions in practice, not getting lethargic, not getting stale.
So we look very, very hard in the off season about things to go through summer, things to go through preseason, things to go through the season to get these guys right.¬† When we've played good, we've been right.¬† I don't think we've played poorly because we're tired and over‑practiced.¬† We haven't changed the routine in anything.
If anything, we're trying to do right now as much as we can what we call teach periods in schematics lineup versus full‑go periods, because I think the one thing that we need to do better is when it's game time and full‑go time, how to play 11 guys fast and flying around.¬† That's where sometimes I worry that as you practice, don't get lethargic and go through the motions at practice because it creeps into your play, because you're used to playing at a certain speed in the passing game, your pursuit angles, getting off blocks, staying on blocks, breaking the tackle, whatever.¬† So you don't do full‑go scrimmages, but we've talked a lot about segments of practice where we ramp it up, because I thought in that last game our team got tired, got stale, and we gotta figure that out this week moving forward.¬† Anything else?¬† All right, guys.¬† Have a good one.

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