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UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA MEDIA CONFERENCE
November 4, 2014
COACH KILL:¬† Thanks for coming out.¬† We appreciate it.¬† And you know, we've had an off‑week.¬† You know, hopefully, you know, our kids did a good job.¬† We worked a lot on fundamentals and things we need to do.¬† We also gave them some time off.
I think they needed it from a mental capacity, and a little bit of fatigue.¬† And so you know, I think our kids have responded well, and had a good practice on Sunday, and looking forward to the rest of the week, and then certainly Saturday.¬† So with that, any questions.
Q.¬† Did you feel like you would have handled this bye week a little differently than you did the first bye week after Michigan partly because of what happened at Illinois?
COACH KILL: ¬†No.¬† I don't think‑‑ it was different in the fact that, you know, where we're at in the season.¬† And you know, we adjusted recruiting a little bit because I wanted to make sure we gave our kids Sunday, Monday and Tuesday off, and Wednesday and Thursday I wanted to do a little bit more preparation towards Iowa.¬† And so get us ahead of things a little bit.¬† So that was a little bit different approach.¬† We didn't give them as much time, you know.
But we needed it.¬† I mean, you know, you can tell when kids are fatigued a little bit, and so we needed to get them back to playing fast and get them going.
So we were careful with them, but we felt like we needed to kind of move forward there, so we were smart in recruiting and preparation for the kids?
Q.¬† Practice outside all this week in preparation for Saturday or how do you handle that?
COACH KILL:¬† I don't think that, you know, yeah, we'll be outside, you know, today.¬† I mean as far as the preparation and things of that nature is that we've been out in the cold, the heat and so forth.¬† So we might, if there's a situation like Friday, sometimes we go inside just because, you know, to have better focus and so forth.¬† But it won't be any different than what we've done in the past.
And with our situation, not having two practice fields, you know, sometimes, like our defense may be inside today so we can throw the ball down the field and things of that nature.¬† So sometimes we're inside because of our situation, not having two fields.
So sometimes you see us inside, but not all of us are in there.¬† But offensively we'll be outside.
Q.¬† Defensively, Iowa defensively seemed to start pretty slow as they're coming on.¬† Can you talk about their defense?
COACH KILL:¬† I think their team's always been that.¬† If you follow Iowa in the past, is that they are always a football team that gets better.¬† Everybody says things and then all of a sudden they just keep going in a direction, so I think that's the nature of who they are, and the job coach does.
But from a defensive standpoint, they've got two‑‑ their defensive line is very, very good, and their two deep tackles down the middle make them special.¬† I mean those guys are hard to handle, and not very many people have handled them.¬† And they're playing young linebackers, and they've gotten better each week, just like some of our freshmen have gotten better the more they play.¬† And they're very well coached.
I mean I just watched, I don't know, six games of, you know, third down and seven or more, and you can count the numbers that people have gotten first downs in those situations.¬† So we better stay out of third down and long or we'll be in trouble.¬† So there's things they do that they just do a great job of scheme wise and coaching that makes them good, but it's also the strength and the size, but that's who Iowa has been for a long time.
Q.¬† You talked a lot about fundamentals during the bye week and all that.¬† One thing Mitch mentioned last week was just getting from the huddle to the line of scrimmage quicker, and it might seem like a small thing to us, but is that kind of a point of emphasis for you guys?
COACH KILL:¬† I think a lot of it is just timing, trying to develop some timing and getting in and out gives him more time to make decisions and checks and those kind of things.
Again, I mean I just think it's a part of‑‑ little things like that are important.¬† Using your hands.¬† Iowa does a great job with their hands, and as an offensive lineman and defensive lineman, you can use those hands, you gotta keep them in, but getting your right hand in in a run play to the right, you know, from a receiver, not raising up on a hitch route or a comeback route.
The great players, you know, fundamentally are so sound you don't know what they're doing.¬† So I think that's what we mean by fundamentals, from route running to low pad level, et cetera.
Q.¬† How much has Drew been able to practice this last week?
COACH KILL:¬† Drew Wolitarsky, oh, he's not practicing at all.¬† He is very questionable, and I don't think he'll play.¬† So that's his‑‑ I just don't think‑‑ you know, we've got two or three like that right now.
Q.¬† Where does that leave you at at wide receiver?¬† Are you still contemplating taking a redshirt off or are you kind of good to go?
COACH KILL:¬† I'm trying not to think about it right now.¬† It's Tuesday.¬† We've been repping a couple of guys, but you know, it's hard to do this late.
But you say that, we've got five games left, too, counting this one, so we'll have to see.¬† A lot of it has to do with how Drew is going to come along.¬† I don't know where he's going to be.
Q.¬† The impression that Logan Hutton has made, does he fit into that mix a little bit?
COACH KILL:¬† Yeah, we've got five‑‑ we've got Eric Carter.¬† We've got some guys there and they'll step up and do a good job.¬† Just you can't afford any‑‑ you know, you can't afford anything else to happen.¬† But that's part of the decision making when you're trying to figure out what you do.
Yeah, we got a core group of guys that are, you know, five guys that we'll be fine, but we're losing a very‑‑ a guy that's been getting better and better, and at this point in time, anyway, and his physical size.
But you know, the pool of five, if we lose one more in there, then you're really stretching things a little bit.
Q.¬† How do you figure that team out?¬† They lost to Iowa State, they barely beat Northern Iowa.¬† They had a field goal to win at the end, and Maryland kind of completely outplayed them, but the last three games they've scored 30 points in all three games.¬† What's turned a team around like that?
COACH KILL:¬† It's, I think, that you know, as coaches, I think that's how things go sometimes, and when you're dealing with young people and so forth, you know, you get on a roll, you gain confidence.
Iowa's always done that.¬† I mean they've always, you know, and they've gotten better as the year goes on, their quarterback is playing at a very high level, and you know, they're a team that always seems to get better as the year goes.
Everybody starts to question them, and then they roll it off and all of a sudden they got nine, 10 wins.¬† And that's a credit to their coaching staff.¬† They just stay with what they do.¬† They don't panic.¬† They don't listen to anybody outside.¬† They just keep doing what they do.
And their kids believe in what they're doing.¬† You can watch that by film.
Q.¬† I'm sure Mitch had some throws against Illinois he wants back, but would it be fair to say that you'll take what he did in the first three BIG TEN games from him for as long as he's here?
COACH KILL:¬† I mean I wouldn't say that with anybody.¬† You know, I want‑‑ we got a lot of room‑‑ Mitch would be the first one to tell you he's got a lot of room to improve.¬† All our guys got a lot of room to improve.¬† We certainly don't want to take any steps back, but you know, he's certainly moving forward.¬† But you know, we all‑‑ including myself.¬† You know, I've been in it for 31 years, and I'd hope to think I'm going to be better as it goes and keep getting better.
But where he's at right now and where he's going to be, I think there's a huge difference, just like a rookie going into the NFL.¬† You got a young man right here in our hometown, Teddy Bridgewater.¬† They're going to bring him along, got a great offensive coordinator, but you know, it takes time.¬† There's ups and downs and so forth, and that kid's going to be a great player, but it's going to take time.
And there's a lot of room, I'm sure coach will say, to improve there.¬† And we've still got a lot of room to improve with Mitch as we go.
Q.¬† Is it one thing with your experience with young quarterbacks that kind of the consistency is what comes?
COACH KILL:¬† Yeah, I think the consistency, and you know, being able to read all the coverages.¬† You know, that's not easy to do.¬† Getting in the right checks, throwing off the blitz  right sets.¬† Making that big throw.¬† You know, it's just‑‑ but most of it is reading coverages and being able to handle all the stuff at full‑speed situation.
Be able to handle pressure.¬† You know, the pocket collapses, being able to get out of it, not take a sack, all those things, you know, throwing the ball away when you need to.¬† It's third down, you force something, you know, and they pick it or whatever.¬† It's not bad to punt sometimes, so you gotta be smart, and that only comes with maturity and playing.¬† You know, I guess the best example is David Cobb, you know, as a running back, you know, how he's improved and got better.
He had a good year last year, but he's better this year.¬† So I just think that's the way you approach every player, and the same with Mitch.
Q.¬† This team starts off a pretty rough stretch to close out the season.¬† Is it daunting at all to play four straight games you know are going to be pretty tough?
COACH KILL:¬† Don't really think about it, because we got the schedule a long time ago.¬† We knew, we talked to our kids about it.¬† And that's the way it is, so I mean all we do is concentrate.¬† Literally, you know, is this game is a rivalry game.¬† It means a ton to our state.¬† It means a ton to our university, you know, and where we're at right now, you know, it's a big game.¬† And so I think that you literally concentrate on that, and then you go to the next one.
And you know, as you look through, you know, we played TCU, who I think is ranked sixth or seventh in the country.¬† So we all knew we had a tough schedule to start.¬† So we just take them one at a time, and I think our kids understand that?
Q.¬† Understanding Cobb's had such a great year, but Rodrick I think has three straight games with zero carries.¬† Any‑‑ I mean a lot of that's David Cobb, but anything with‑‑
COACH KILL:¬† No, he hasn't done anything wrong.¬† You got David Cobb, and he's played well.¬† You know, there may down the stretch here, different game that we're in or so forth.¬† He may play more, but I mean it's one of those things where, you know, David's played awfully well.¬† Rodrick hasn't done anything wrong.¬† He's playing on special teams, et cetera, and he'll be ready if his number is called.¬† He works hard every day, very hard.
Q.¬† What do you think of Jonah's performance at Illinois?¬† I know Ben Lauer is out.¬† He might play a little bit more, Jonah?
COACH KILL:¬† He may, yeah.¬† He may start, you know.¬† We'll have to see how Ben Lauer is.¬† He hasn't practiced at all.
We'll see how‑‑ we've had kind of revolving doors in the offensive line, so we'll see how he‑‑ Ben's going to practice a little bit today, but Jonah is improving every week, and he played sick, too.¬† I mean he was, you know, halftime he wasn't doing very well.¬† You know, he knew he had to stay in there and play, you know, so he's gotten better every week, and he's a young player, but he's big.
I thought he had a really‑‑ Sunday really had a good practice. ¬†I mean he really did a nice job.¬† The more you play, the more success you have, the more confidence in your game.¬† But you know, we certainly need him right now.¬† We need him to come through.¬† There's no doubt about that.
Q.¬† How is Connor Mayes coming along?
COACH KILL:¬† You know, again, he's a guy that with our situation at guards is that you don't want to throw somebody in there, but we had to do what we had to do, and so we need to get him coached up because he's going to have to give us some minutes.¬† And he's done a good job.¬† And you know, it's just like anything; we gotta just do it.¬† He did against two darn‑good defensive tackles.
Again, with injuries and things like that we've had, it's put a‑‑ kids have stepped up, done a great job.¬† We wouldn't be where we're at.¬† But when you have that in the offensive line, start three different guards and all that stuff, it's hard to build that continuity.
You see NFL teams all the time with‑‑ because of the communication that goes on from snap to snap, you know.¬† So with that depth factor and where we're at.¬† Wish we wouldn't have had to do it, but we had to and so we are where we're at.
Q.¬† What goes into the redshirt decision, when you're doing it that late?¬† Is that something where you bring the kid in, and do you present it to them, like this is what we want to do or this is what we're going to do?
COACH KILL:¬† No.¬† I think, you always talk to the kid and see if he's ready to play.¬† And so I mean I think, you know, I talked to him earlier, and he just goes, Coach, I gotta get better at pass pro.¬† And you know, these kids are ‑‑ gotta get better at pass pro, and I said, think you're ready to play?¬† What do you think?¬† Coach, I think I'm ready to play now.
So I mean a lot of that's, kid, where you're at, communication.¬† You know, so that's pretty much how we've always dealt with it.
We've made a lot of good decisions.¬† Every once in a while you go back and you go, oh, boy, I wish I‑‑ but right now, until we get‑‑ we've been here, this is going on our fourth year, and this will actually be our fourth recruiting class.¬† When we got here, we were scrambling, but it's one of those deals until you get it all built up.
In a perfect world I'd redshirt‑‑ I wouldn't have maybe played two freshmen this year, and that's how you build up depth.¬† But you know, we're in a situation where we're scrambling to continue to do that.
I hope next year's class, the way things fall, that we can maybe redshirt a few more people.¬† But situations dictate that.¬† We've had, I don't know how many injuries, eight, nine guys that have made surgery.¬† And you have that, you gotta do what you gotta do.
And the young kids we've played, I mean they've done okay, you know, but you look down the road, just like you'd love to‑‑ out of the senior class, you look at Cedric Thompson, you know, boy, I'd like to have him back for another year, you know.¬† You look at Derrick Wells, if he'd have been able to redshirt maybe physically.¬† You look at all that.¬† But we've had to do it.¬† So...
Q.¬† The morale last week going into Iowa earlier, how do you handle that when you have a bye week?
COACH KILL:¬† You know, the first bye week, we were all out on the road, and there was two or three of us stayed in and ran practice and really didn't spend a lot of time on Michigan, very little.
We did a lot of film work and so forth, but on the practice field we didn't do as much.¬† More fundamentals.
This bye week we spent, you know, less time‑‑ because we couldn't‑‑ you know, you're only allowed so many times on the road.¬† If we did that.¬† This one we're able to not only do our preparation, but we were able to do a little bit more on Iowa on the two days that, you know, that we practiced.
Q.¬† Weisman has had a couple big games against the Gophers.¬† Can you talk about him, what kind of threat he poses?
COACH KILL:¬† He's put a lot of good games up against a lot of people.¬† He's a good football player, 245 pounds.¬† If I had a film, I'd show you.
Offensively, they run the outside zone, two‑back zone as good as anybody.¬† And they run the same thing, you know, adjust it a little bit, but they'll run it, run it, lead the fullback up there and he can hit the seams.
You know, they got a lot‑‑ they run a wide zone.¬† They stretch it, and he just hangs in there real patient and lets the linebacker run over the top, and then he sticks it.¬† He does a great job.
That's why from a defensive standpoint, we have to be big‑time disciplined.¬† Everybody's gotta do their job.¬† And you gotta stay in the gap. ¬†Linebacker's gotta stay in his gap.¬† They make you be disciplined.¬† And that's what makes him good.
They just keep coming at you, and then they try and make you make a mistake.¬† And then they take advantage of it.¬† Thank you.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports