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November 25, 2014

Tracy Claeys

Q.  Melvin Gordon, where do you start with him?
COACH CLAEYS:  Good back, got to tackle him well.  They do a good job of having two tight ends, and got a lot of blockers in front of him.  How well you tackle determines how well you play.

Q.  (Inaudible.)
COACH CLAEYS:  I think we played ‑‑ I think we did a decent job on him a year ago when we played against him.  Once he gets to space and he makes somebody miss he can get it over with.  And he's awfully good.  Awfully good.

Q.  Is there anybody you've faced so far that you can best compare to Gordon, is it abdomen dull an or somebody else?
COACH CLAEYS:  I don't know.  It's hard until you play.  It's hard.  He's good.

Q.  Has this team taken its turn over creating ability to kind of a new level?  Even surprising you in some ways?
COACH CLAEYS:  You know, we always do the defense like there's not going to be any takeaways or turnovers.  Because I've said before, I don't want to be a bad defense, and just rely on takeaways and turnovers.  It's all a matter of when you get in the position to make plays and you make those plays.  We work on all those drills to try to get more out of them.
And the kids have done a good job of creating some takeaways and turnovers.  I wouldn't say it's surprising.  Because anymore now everybody on defense works on getting the ball and taking it away.

Q.  Do you feel like the next step for this defense was getting to a point where you're in those goal line situations, that they can come up with big stops, especially like the one you saw on Saturday?
COACH CLAEYS:  Yeah.  Yeah.  They play well in the red zone.  So most of the times that are good on defense they get some stops in the red zone or at least make people kick field goals.  So our kids are very confident.
And again, I said all along, I think the better athletes you have and the stronger you are and the faster you are, the more those things happen, also.
So I think that's just improving our athletic ability and strength and having faster kids is I think a result of creating more of the turnovers.

Q.  Gordon gets all kinds of notoriety and rightfully so.  But what are the attributes of that offensive line that makes them so good?
COACH CLAEYS:  They're just always big.  They're big and they can run.  They're athletic.  So they've always put a lot of life in of the NFL.  They've done a nice job up front.  So that's ‑‑ we'll have to play well.  Again, it's one of the better offensive lines that we've faced.  So up front we'll have to do a good job.
It still all comes down ‑‑ it's everybody being in the gap where they're supposed to be.  You don't know how they're going to block it necessarily.  They've ran more formations and shifts than we have room on our white board for.
It's more a matter of making sure that everybody is in the right gap, in the right space and tackling when you get the opportunity to.
But they're awfully good up front and tight ends block well.  If they weren't very good up front he wouldn't have very many yards.  You can't play without those guys up front.

Q.  It's been game after game now where he's in the right place at the right time?
COACH CLAEYS:  I can't explain it.  He's been in position to make it some plays.  He's made some plays.  Sometimes they go your way and sometimes they don't.  Hopefully they go that way another week or two.

Q.  (Inaudible.)
COACH CLAEYS:  We've got quite a few kids that do really well on the instincts.  Just so happens, I don't know if they don't want to throw at Eric Murray, right now they're throwing at Breen and he's making the plays that he needs to make or vice versa.
That's why I tell kids all the time, you go by tackles.  And interceptions all go by who they're going to throw the ball to.  I don't know who they're going to throw it to.  But when they throw it that way, you're in the position to make the play you need to make, no different than tackles.
But when they try to block it, we try to design there's always one blocked hat, and the guy that's unblocked has to make the play or it's going to look awfully bad.  They go at Breen, and just so happens Breen has made those plays.  With his athletic ability, no question, I think, has helped him.

Q.  In terms of the defenses that you put, how would you put this one in terms of taking instruction, coachability?
COACH CLAEYS:  For here, I mean, it's the best one we've had so far for here.  I mean they take to the coaching awfully well and adjust.  And it still all comes back to, they ask great questions.  I've always said that's the whole key to when kids understand what you're truly doing on defense is they ask great questions.
Since probably our first year at northern Illinois we were blessed.  They had a lot of seniors.  They played in a similar defense, those kids had, and they understood the system pretty good for that.  And ‑‑ but when they ask great questions, how do we handle this then they know where the problems are and they understand it more.
So it's a great group as far as they do ask questions when they don't understand something.

Q.  How much harder are they to prepare for this year with that second quarterback situation?
COACH CLAEYS:  You know, they do have good quarterbacks, but they're not the ones that are going to beat you.  Wisconsin is Wisconsin, you've got to top is the running game or it doesn't matter what those quarterbacks do.
We've got to get them into a position to force the quarterbacks make plays or it's going to be a long day.

Q.  Do you feel the secondary adjusted to not having Antonio back there.  Do you expect to not have him again on Saturday?
COACH CLAEYS:  I don't know what Coach ‑‑ I don't know ‑‑ Ed is in charge of that, so we'll find out when we go to practice on Tuesday, whether they're going to practice or not.  But I thought the kids that had to step in and play did very good.  We'd like to have him because there's a little bit more depth and that.  And one more injury really put us in a bind, so we hurt depth‑ways, but the kids that are left really played well.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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