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October 5, 2015

Kevin Wilson

Bloomington, Indiana

COACH WILSON: Ohio State performance, short end of the stick. Special teams, we didn't have any effect in the game. They had 76 yards in punt returning. We had 2. They had 24 yards in kickoff returns. We had 14. Touched it down three punts inside the 20. Had a critical error. The only one we thought outside -- Greg Gooch did a nice job. Just really didn't make a play in the kicking game. When you're playing great teams, got to play on the road this week, you've got to impact your performance with the kicking game. We really didn't last week.

We did honor Griffin Oakes as our special teams player of the game. He's kicked about three-quarters of them out in the end zone. He's been good with his field goals, leads the conference. We'll need that as we go forward. And three punts inside the 20.

We did limit some big plays, but we gave them too much. I do like the way those young snappers are playing in inclement weather. So appreciate it. Matt Dooley was, to me, a huge loss a year ago. Guedel and Godsil are two young snappers doing really nice for us. And Josh Parrish is the third guy that's doing well.

Offensively, no turnovers, one sack, was okay. 21 first downs. We had 91 plays but not a lot of points. Had the ball 34 minutes. We were 7 of 22 on third downs and 1 of 3 on fourth.

Didn't play quite as physical at the last scrimmage. They really got after us. Inside running game, outside running game, down around plays, power plays, zone plays, you name it. Except for the one long run by Zander, they did a great job of committing the run. We didn't make any big plays. We didn't take advantage of the one-on-one coverage.

We only had eight big plays, which was really one of the huge differences in the game, their big plays versus our lack thereof. We had too many zero, negative plays. Only had three first downs third quarter.

We had two guys we felt played well, Dan Feeney and Zander Diamont. Dan did have two holds, but he did play very, very hard and tough against a good go inside with their defensive front. Player of the game was Zander Diamont, and our scout player of the week is Michael Barwick, coming off a knee injury, back to full speed, second year D-lineman. Looked really great last week. We've got some depth. He's not technically in the rotation with the D-linemen yet, but he's in the mix.

It's good to see because he's a second year guy. That second year for guys is always frustrating. You have JV teams. You have freshmen teams. I think a lot of kids expect to be redshirted, but year two is always tough. In my world, if you're a five year kid, your second year is the equivalent of a ninth grader in high school. A redshirt freshman is an eighth grader compared in that same timeline. How many eighth and ninth graders play on their varsity? Tenth graders play on the varsity? You have an eighth grade team and then a ninth grade team and then a JV team. These kids don't play in games, they get frustrated. So I was really encouraged to see Michael coming along, which we like and it's a good deal.

Defensively, I think we held them to 25 zero or negative plays, which was decent. They had 62 snaps. We had a couple sacks. Two or three times we held them to a field goal within the scoring zone, which is good to see us step up and do that. We created three turnovers, which is very strong, good to see. 2 of 14 on third down, which is very good to see. They did have ten explosive plays. Four of their TDs, 28 points came on explosive plays. Play action go ball to the boundary and then the three runs of 55, 65, and 75.

Defensively, we recognize four players: Chase Dutra, Marcus Oliver, A.J. Rayner, Nick Mangieri. Player of the game, Chase Dutra. 11 tackles, back to full speed, looking good.

Our scouts of the week, Mike Majette and Marqui Hawkins. Marqui, a little bit like Barwick. Michael Barwick, he needs to keep getting better. He's got a lot of football ahead of him, so it's good to see.

Alex Rodriguez was awesome. He's had it a couple times. Could have gave him. We're just trying to spread the wealth and be like -- I think their coach is trying to be like a soccer club for the youth league and give everybody a trophy, I guess. A-Rod should have got it. He's been good.

Penn State very, very good on defense, very, very good. 21 sacks, first or second in the nation. Just great run defense, don't give up points. Just awesome up front. Linebacker, structure, well coached, secondary know what they're doing, know where they're going to get attacked and how to prevent stress.

Like I say, just as awesome as Penn State's always been, awesome, awesome. Defense and playing at their place will be very, very challenging with crowd noise and all the great things they do there.

Kicking game, I guess they had a punter maybe get hurt, but they play two. One's right footed, one's left footed. That ball spins funny with the left-footed punter. As a matter of fact, San Diego State fumbled and botched a punt and had a touchdown return on one of the defensive scores. That's the difference in the game there.

Always great kicking game. Always have those linebacker types, those safety types, covering punts, covering kicks. They've got some really great skill players. I know offensively they've been a little bit out of sync, but their receivers, Hamilton, Godwin, 7.5 12. Those guys can roll, and they make plays.

They've played in bad weather games. I think it's limited their ability to connect with the pass game. Tight ends, a couple big guys they use. Running backs, skill, a couple kids have been hurt. Their offensive skill set is very, very scary. They've had -- in their transition, they've had depth problems at line. They're better. Got a top JC guy. When their line gets going and one of the premier quarterbacks in college ball can get run game and rhythm, they're a great offense.

Tremendous defensive challenge. Great play makers on offense. They've been really, really close. They've won four in a row. It's their homecoming. It's going to be a tough environment.

Like I said, a couple things I didn't like -- I just was reading your Twitter comments about Nate was hoping to play. I'm not much hoping because my high school coach told me about that a horse. So I ain't much about hoping. And I read something last week where a senior said that Ohio State was a bigger week, it's always a little bit more. He don't get the gist of this program if that's what he thought. So we've addressed that. This is another big week. Next one, next day, and we've got to move on.

We've shown as a program we can be good. We've shown we don't consistently move on. It's going to be another great week, another great test. Our teams, love them, appreciate what they're doing. We're going to play in a great crowd environment. Really appreciate our crowd last week. Our fans were awesome. They affected the game. Coach Epp said years ago, fans win games. Those fans helped us. They helped us weather some storms. They stayed with us. We've got a team that will fight. Like to have our fan base start to have that little proud and fighting spirit with us too.

I think, as we go on the road this week, I know we always have sections up there. Got alumni in New York and D.C. area. Like to see some of those folks get some crimson in their pockets at Happy Valley stadium. Like to see a great crowd as you move forward with homecoming.

I thought last week was awesome with our fans. I'm glad we put on a hard fought game, but we need to play better. We expect to play better, and we haven't accomplished much yet. That's all we're talking about is getting better and keep moving forward.

Q. You mentioned the four explosion plays, which I know have been a problem in the past defensively. Do you see you're getting closer to solving that? That even though you're not where you want to be, that you're moving in that direction to be able to stop that?
COACH WILSON: That's a great question because everybody talks about turnover ratio as factors. Big play the last few years in spread offense has been one of the indicators of teams that win and teams that don't, chunk plays. Games played in space now, a lot of plays in what I call stress-free passing where the ball can go in space, and if one guy misses a tackle, there it goes.

When you hand it off to the runner, he's got 8, 9, 10, 11 guys to contend with. Out there one-on-one, can you have those guys make plays? So the game's evolving that way.

A couple of those plays, our structure, miscommunication, not proper alignment. We missed a tackle on one big run, but a couple of times we just didn't communicate and get lined up right and didn't fit it right when you're supposed to, quote, cancel gaps and be where you're supposed to be.

But when you're playing a team like Ohio State -- and Penn State has very similar players. They're young, but there are two dynamic running backs. The kid came in last week and popped a couple big ones. Skill sets at receiver. Hackenberg can deliver.

And really our inability to make big plays. We haven't had a lot. Our offense has done kind of efficient, kind of okay. We've not created and found big plays. We've got to work on that. That's always, to me, a big difference in games. It will be tough against this Penn State team to get big plays, and we've got to daggum sure limit theirs. That's for sure.

We're getting better, but that's the Achilles heel of a lot of losses every week, turnovers and that.

Q. A little bit about the running game. I guess, as you assess it and couldn't get going against Ohio State, how much was maybe being down to one back back there. I know having two has been a strength for you guys. How much is stuff that needs to get cleaned up on the offensive line? How much is just what Ohio State was doing?
COACH WILSON: A bit of both, but I think also too they came in, you're not going to run the ball, and we need to throw it better. We just need to take advantage of some one-on-ones and get some perimeter big plays, which we really didn't do.

Our big play of the day was with our man-to-man, a couple of pass interference calls. So the box got really loaded with great athletes and fast athletes, and they're good enough to play you one-on-one in coverage, and we've got to find ways in our offensive attack and structure and take advantage of what they give us.

They made a commitment to stop the run. We have been a very good running team. They had not done well the week before, so I know it was a big point of emphasis. Really just outnumbered and kicked our tail. We'll see if we can respond. Part of that is our players, but a real part of it is our plan and the way to attack it as much as anything.

Penn State is a different defense -- not a lot different. In some ways, they're actually as stout or more stout with their defensive front and their linebackers. They play great defense at Penn State. There's several teams in our league that play great defense.

Q. With Devine carrying the load and Jordan being limited and Ricky Brookins being out, who else is in the running back mix to help going into this week?
COACH WILSON: Andrew Wilson was up the other day, Alex Rodriguez. It's kind of great, like I told him last night, we're giving you scout team guy of the week. He was just kind of odd man out. He was back three as he came through preseason strong. He's strong, can bench 440, jump vertical form. He's got some talent. We've seen that in the spring. I'm pretty excited he's been practicing great. He's on the scout team, but he's been going against a better defense than the other guys.

So I guess it's a drop-off. We've been working Mike Majette as well. We still have four guys in the stable, and we'll mix it up and go. We're not going to ride one guy out. You've got to play two or three the way we play. We had 91 snaps. That means you've got to play a lot of guys. Next guy is going to come and play. We got a lot of guys nicked up. It's called college football. You need to read Penn State's articles. Everyone's got people nicked up. Ohio State lost a great player.

That's why we have 85 scholarships and 120 on the team. We practice those guys hard. Next guy is going to have to come in and play. It can be a loss, but all it is is an opportunity. We've shown guys can step up. Saw Zander come up the other night and just got to keep playing. It's different. We'll see.

If Nate's healthy and he can protect himself and play, he's going to play. There's certain things he's got to do to get in rhythm and practice, but we don't need to over practice. We need to see if he's healthy, and can he execute? Can he also be put in a proper position? He and the medical guys will go through this week, will prepare.

Danny Cameron is better. Told you Zander was better. We'll keep working.

Q. You talked a little bit about Nate. Also, where's Jordan health-wise? Is he one of those guys that can maybe be a little bit more limited in practice?
COACH WILSON: I don't know, everybody's different to me. Adrian Peterson came off a 6-month ACL in 4 1/2. It's a timeline. Some guys heal slower. If you say, hey, you're out a week, and it takes two, a kid gets psychotic and thinks it's worse. The more you sleep and get your treatment and better you eat and better you live and say some prayers out there, it kind of goes the way it's supposed to go.

He's a little gimped up, both of them on ankles. They play positions, but there's no position you play that you don't have to move. We're not going to put a kid out there that can't play. I just felt the other day like Nate tried to come back in the game. It was a little tender going into the game. He just looked like he couldn't move. I don't know if it was smart for him.

That's why we just -- and we've got confidence in Zander. We have confidence in Devine. We'll find a run game. We have confidence in Alex Rodriguez. You can ask Alex. He's mad he doesn't have a scholarship and he's not the starter. He's pretty good. He thinks he is. He'll play well, so will Andrew Wilson. We'll keep moving.

I don't think any of those injuries are major, though. So is it by Saturday? A week? 14? Time will tell. We're not going to push it.

Q. Of the running backs that have been in will be coming in and have a role on this team, you mentioned the role importance of Deland working with just the general group of running backs this season.
COACH WILSON: Again, the way we do it in practice, he keeps four up on the varsity field, and we do it because those guys run so hard. Every time we run a play -- because we don't tackle. Those guys run 30, 40 yards a lot. If you do that, if you give a guy in practice 25, 30 carries, it's like he's ran for 3,000 yards that day or something.

So they don't get that many carries. The timing issue is not a deal. The scheme, they're not really that much different as far as their ability to block, catch. We'll keep running the same offense and try to attack their defense the best we can.

But Deland is an awesome coach, has a great relationship with those guys. He's grown into having a great understanding of our offense, a great understanding of what needs to be emphasized in preparation, whether it be ball security, blitz pickup. He's a tremendous -- he's only been five years in the college game, but he's a very, very smart, very detailed, great coach, and we're blessed to have him. He'll have his guys ready to play the best they can, that's for sure. No doubt.

Q. [No microphone].
COACH WILSON: I keep fighting for them, but, again, sometimes the way they practice, just lack of trust. We need to get them out there. We keep talking about it. So, again, last few weeks we haven't thrown the last couple of weeks with the rain quite as good as we needed to, and the opponent last week hurt us. So they're not practicing poorly, just hasn't happened yet. We need them to keep coming along, and they're all -- no one's been a disappointment.

Thornton, Westbrook -- they played a little bit more two tight ends than we've done, sometimes three tight ends. That's taking those guys off the field a little bit. Tight ends have caught more. That used to be the story we don't throw to them. Now we throw to them a little bit more. Just kind of take what's out there. But they need to keep coming on for sure.

Q. This group, do you have a sense of how these guys will bounce back after their first loss?
COACH WILSON: No, I don't. We've just been talking a lot about it. That's what I addressed last week. I wasn't mad, but I was when I saw it said that it was the biggest week. It was just because it was that week, not the opponent. Now this is the biggest week.

To me, we haven't accomplished much. There's a lot of football to play. I think there's a lot of fight in this team. There's opportunities for guys to step up. I think our team has that mentality.

We're going to play a tough opponent, tough place to play, never won there, not going to be easy. But expect our guys to prepare their best, get better this week. We've been outlining that for a long time, and we haven't deviated from it.

We did talk about we were proud of their effort. We expected that. We were disappointed that we had some mistakes that we need to fix. There's a point in time that good teams fix them.

We're never going to be perfect, but we just keep having just enough clutter to just make when you're playing some of these upper level teams. When you play Big Ten ball, you've got to bring it every week. We showed earlier against the non-conference slate what we were going to do. Now do you have the guts? I like Dabo's comments, Bring your own guts. Do you have the guts and determination to do it again? It's easier said than done.

It's easier to get distracted. I hope we weren't trying to just play one game and work hard. We're trying to work hard all season. These kids gave us they goals, they established their goals we have internally, and it's our job to hold them. I go back and say, okay, you told me what you wanted. Now I'm going to hold you to that. I'm going to hold you to that practice habit, that way of living your life, that standard, and now let's go play.

We kind of had an internal way of setting our bar. It's been done by the players. Instead of me telling them what they're doing, they've told me what they want to do. It's our staff's job to push them to get to that point.

That's where we keep coming back. Let's go back to where we started. You wanted this. It's okay for us to hold you to that, right? It's been a good group to coach because we're working together, and it's been fun.

Q. Every one of your games have been either close or relatively close. How important has that been to make sure everybody stays focused, nobody gets a big head, nobody gets too down, just stays focused on what they're doing.
COACH WILSON: We talk a lot -- good question. We show during the week and just make points of other games that it's never over. I didn't like the first play the other day. We tackled for a seven-yard loss and started jumping around like we won the game. Hey, you'd better line back up because here comes no huddle. You've got to play the next play. They missed the field goal in the first half, and we're all giddy and jumping around.

Like last year Maryland made a long field goal, everybody is out there. Hey, what do you mean? Get ready for the next play. Afterwards, you can celebrate a little bit. Evaluate yourself, feel good about yourself, look at corrections, and get in the process of prepping again and kind of keep grinding.

I like the energy of our crowd, our team. I think they'll move forward. But will they? We'll see as we move -- nothing great was ever accomplished without enthusiasm. That's the only thing I remember from English from Miss Blackburn. I think it was Emerson that said that one because I believe in that. I just believe in enthusiasm. I believe in energy. But I believe in channelling it the right way. We need our kids to channel in, okay, that one's over. Now let's channel into this one and get better this week and go get the next one.

The really good teams, that's what it's about. You guys say it's coach speak, but that's kind of what it's about. That's not how we're coaching. It's how we're trying to live with these guys.

Q. In your mind, is it almost a way of testing or proving some of that maturity and mental toughness you said you feel like you see in this team?
COACH WILSON: I got a text from one of our former players, who I wouldn't mention, and it says, "Well," and a couple terms I can't say, but "All that stuff you said is coming true." He's a former player, someone you guys would know and know well. All that stuff is coming true. Just turnover ratio, play the next play, keep playing, put it in his text. You told me that a couple years ago, and wow.

Again, guys just reminded we're not particularly good yet. We're young. Got to overcome injuries. That's everybody. Everybody is young. Everybody is playing young guys. We all do. We're a deeper team, more talented. Still got a long way to go. Haven't done much when you've played five games.

Right now is when you start accomplishing and showing, have you grown? Right now is when you can separate -- I don't think this team puts pressure on -- last week everybody said we were going to feel pressure because our fans were going to be here. Appreciate them coming, but we weren't going to play that game with pressure. We're going to go out and play hard.

I think you can squeeze too tight. I think earlier some of our teams did try too hard. Now these guys are confident enough, go play hard and flush it. Whether it's good or bad, flush it down the drain and go play the next one. Keep going and add up and see if you can have enough good ones to get the result you want.

Q. You talked about Nate and Jordan. How about the other guys who were hurt?
COACH WILSON: Danny Friend now has had a surgery. He had a torn muscle and a knee injury. He's going to be out through -- got a chance to get him back at the end, maybe, maybe not. We'll see how that goes. He also, though, he's been redshirted, but he could apply for a medical and get a six year. I don't know if guys want six years of football.

If you get an opportunity by the end, Maryland, Purdue, is he back? We'll cross that bridge. He's got something they said would take five or six weeks. Everybody else, we've got chipped up, nicked up, but everybody's pretty good.

Q. How much better do you think guys are at maybe taking -- maybe not putting Ohio State on a pedestal just because they're No. 1 this year? You said there were a couple of comments about it being the big week. Do you think as a whole they're much better at kind of --
COACH WILSON: Because they're such a big program, I know personally I make that a big week because I just don't believe you back down. Hey, the gist of having a chance to win is you've got to be aggressive and go after it. Like to me sometimes, in those games, I'm like, hey, we're not backing down. That's why I say it's a big week, and that's led to self-esteem or self confidence. We don't talk about the No. 1, just it's Ohio State, standard issue. They're always good.

There's several teams in this conference and this division that are always good. To me, we embrace it. I look at programs around this country that have been built, and one of the things they did is they embraced the challenge and used the other teams to strengthen themselves versus them hindering you. Use them as the standard of what you're shooting for, what you're recruiting for, what you're developing for.

And that's all we've tried to do is just tried to develop our team, the program, to be good enough to play consistent, Big Ten football, and Big Ten East football, and we're slowly getting there.

Q. Is there any further update on Darius? Is that process still ongoing?
COACH WILSON: Didn't you send them like an e-mail about the statement last week? Okay. You got that, right?

Q. Academic or --
COACH WILSON: I thought they got an e-mail. Did you guys get it? Were you guys copied? I thought it said, no further comment. Sorry. We can close copy it. If something was out there, you'd know before I did. Right? It's a right now world.

Everybody good? That's part of our team. It's right now. This team has gotten into we're not right now. It's what's best and keep going. Our team is not right now. I think you can grind and grind it out. You can sharpen, sharpen, sharpen, and grind that blade down to nothing. This team is into working and day-to-day process and having fun.

We're in a right now world of info and what's going on, and I think our team has kind of bought into the process of how to live and how to work and how to just kind of keep doing it. If you keep adding up good days, good things happen. We're going to need our best week because Penn State is awfully good. I know our guys are looking forward to the challenge. So appreciate it.

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