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November 18, 2014

Matt Limegrover

Q.  The running gaming established itself the way you did against Iowa and Ohio State, how well do you think here playing up front and one guy specifically is Jonah in these two games?
COACH LIMEGROVER:  Obviously, I gotta give a lot of props to David Cobb.  He's a guy that ‑‑ I was talking with Chip outside; he's the kind of kid that can make an average group look pretty good.  Not saying that we're an average group, I think the kids are playing their tail ends off but he's a special player so it's nice to be able to turn the ball around‑‑ or turn around and hand the ball to him.
Up front it's a group that's really come together, kind of fought through some of the injuries earlier in the year, a great example is Jonah Pirsig.  He was banged up early, has had his opportunity to play, has been healthy, been feeling good and, you know, I made the comment that I felt like, especially against Iowa, but really the last two weeks that he played like a Big Ten offensive linemen.  He played like a guy that you see other teams trottin' around with all the time, so that development and just that meshing in, being able to get reps out of Connor Mayes to spell Joe Bjorklund who was coming off season injuries, who probably wasn't as strong as he wanted to be coming into the year, but he gives everything he's got so trying to give him time off and from center to left tackle those guys are our horses and we're going to ride 'em to the end.

Q.  You were already down Drew, and then you lose ‑‑ then Donovahn can't play.  Does that hinder at all what you wanted to do in the pass game?
COACH LIMEGROVER:  That was definitely part of it and just by the nature of how Ohio State plays, they weren't going to give you a chance to go over the top much, so, you know, you get to a point where you start looking at it and you say okay run gamewise they weren't going to come up and support with their safeties the way a lot of teams do, so therefore it's harder to get back over the top on 'em.
We felt like we tried to do as much as we could and take what they were giving us and run the football and obviously against an offense like that, I think the bigger picture is, you know, you want to run clock and do those things, but then again, not having‑‑ having the wide receiver corp get depleted and Donovahn is a kid that can get behind defenses pretty quickly and there is a reason why he's been able to get out there and he's been doing that recently and he's gotten comfortable.
So not having him, it didn't radically alter what we were trying to do, Ohio State had something to do with that, but it definitely didn't help when we wanted to take those shots to not have him there.

Q.  Are there things that Mitch can learn from the second half?
COACH KILL:  Redshirt sophomore can learn every time he steps out there, but there is no doubt, we've got to do a good job, and I say it all the time, I feel bad, you know, and I know quarterbacks get a lot of accolades but I feel bad for quarterbacks, because this is truly an eleven‑man deal.  It isn't just a quarterback missing or him taking a sack because he's not finding the right read or something, there's eleven at blame when things don't go right and it's a lot bigger than just Mitch, and we're making sure that every position there is emphasis on that.  Coach Kill asked us earlier today, he said, "You've had time to digest Ohio State.  Give me four things that we need to work on this week to go beat Nebraska," and one of those is to be able to throw the ball better.  But it had so much less to do with Mitch than it did the other ten guys that are out there, and that's what our guys need to understand.  It's easy to scapegoat Mitch in that thing but there has got to be a lot of responsibility spread around on that.

Q.  What was your take away from seeing what Wisconsin was able to do to Nebraska last week?  Just as a whole they were pretty much dominated.  
COACH LIMEGROVER:  You know, there are things in sports you can't explain because Nebraska is a good defense but Wisconsin has had their number between Big Ten Championship game a couple of years ago, I think they put 70 on 'em and what they did to them on Saturday, and sometimes those two pieces don't match up and a team has another team's number.  Then you look at the bigger body of work of Nebraska and they're pretty salt at this.  They have some guys that are very, very good football players, and I have a feeling we're going to see their "A" game playing there, coming off that game, they're going to be ready to go.
So the last thing we can do right now is sit back and say, hey, we got this thing figured out, we'll do exactly what Wisconsin did to them and have the same kind of success.  They're going to be ready so this is a really big week for us as far as preparation goes.

Q.  Matt, would you say developing wide receivers is one thing that is so much harder than the general public might understand?  From all accounts that group that you brought in in this recruiting class, high accolades, good athletes but people are wondering, Donovahn is out, where are these guys?  It's a long process to get 'em ready?
COACH LIMEGROVER:  Yeah, you know, sometimes it's‑‑ one of the things was when we had our full complement of receivers, we didn't have to force feed anybody so they didn't get reps early that maybe a guy like‑‑ we knew we needed Donovahn last year and really Drew.  So right almost from day one we had Donovahn playing a little bit of quarterback but very early in fall camp leading into our first game those guys were getting a lot of those one's and two‑type reps at wide receiver.  We felt like we had a better complement of guys in that first six, seven, eight, so the guys like Melvin Holland and Isaiah Gentry, those guys weren't getting as many reps early, and then we got into that routine and it's like in basketball you start tightening down that rotation and when they weren't in it to begin with, it's hard to break into that when now where we could use them and need them they're pretty far behind.  It becomes a numbers game unfortunately in practice and those types of things and unfortunately, Isaiah Gentry, who was probably the furthest along in the group he has the knee injury and he's out of commission, so that started those dominos falling more on that and it sets you back even more.
The top‑end for those guys is fantastic.  Get through the season, go into the string, feeling more comfortable with the offense, couple of guys leave out, now they get those rep and you're looking at a different story going into 2015.

Q.  Matt, where is Donovahn in your evaluation, converted quarterback, played last year, sophomore now.  Where is he?  What's your evaluation?
COACH LIMEGROVER:  Tell you what, I don't want to undervalue not having him on Saturday meant to us because he had been coming on.  He had a couple of good things happen early in the season, and then, you know, kinda fell back into the group a little bit, but then the last three or four games started to distinguish himself again especially being a deep ball threat, which is what we obviously really need.  I think he was really coming into his own.  Then to get sick and not be able to go, I think that was not a set‑back for him but kind of a set‑back a little bit for us, not having his talent out there.  You can almost see weekly him learning more and getting more comfortable and feeling better about things and that's the amazing thing having a little success will do for anybody.  He has a little more pep in his step and he's work hard at practice because he's seeing that proverbial light at the end of the tunnel because he's seeing being able to make big plays for us and be a big part of our offense.

Q.  He had a real big game against Nebraska last year, too, and you like the opportunity to go back against a team for maybe another break‑out game?
COACH LIMEGROVER:  Absolutely.  I think he's ‑‑ I know he's feelin' it.  I know he's gonna be ready to go today.  He feels terrible, not just physically feels terrible 'cuz he was sick, but feels terrible because he couldn't be out there and help contribute, so I think he'll have a really good week and excited to get him back in there without a doubt and the confidence level has to be pretty high because he did have a lot of success against these guys last year.

Q.  Mitch, has had some success on the road in the Big Ten before.  Talk about how playing in those hostile environments will benefit him going into Lincoln on Saturday.
COACH LIMEGROVER:  I've said it before, he's a competitive kid.  I sometimes think he kinda likes the idea of okay, our backs are against the wall, here we go, let's fight our way out kind of thing and when you go to a place like Lincoln, Nebraska and you're two weeks to go in the season and you're in a round‑robin tournament to see who is going to win the Big Ten West, in his mind that's where he wants to be.  We're not going to do anything to dissuade his thought process on that because when he's feeling good the rest of that group follows behind.
I think he's got that fighter's mentality and a little bit of the "us against the world" and it's going to be loud and they're going to be hostile, and that's fine, bring it on.  And, like I said, we won't do anything to try and quell that for sure.
THE MODERATOR:  Thanks, Coach.

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