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October 6, 2015

Matt Limegrover

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Q. As you look at your track record, 14 years, every year gets a little better or maybe down to 35-plus at Southern or whatever. How are you taking it just to have the offense currently toward the bottom in statistics?
COACH LIMEGROVER: I mean, we're worried about wins. That's probably the single biggest thing. Obviously, scoring enough points to win. That's the part that's bothering more of us than statistical categories per se. But just the idea of finding ways to get in the end zone, finding ways of getting in scoring position, that's the part that we're mulling over and over again and trying to figure out what the best route is to get to that destination.

Q. In your position, you have the O-line, and you have the coordinator job. When the O-line is scuffling, how do you handle where you've got kind of like multiple fires at once?
COACH LIMEGROVER: Well, yeah, that's the challenge. This has been the biggest challenge of my career really with the idea of having both roles as long as I've been with Coach Kill. There's been times where one or -- usually, when the O-line isn't going well, the whole thing isn't going well. That's just how it works. Fortunately, we've had some good offensive lines along the way and been able to surround that with good skill position players.

So maybe we weren't great on the offensive line, but the skill guys were able to pick it up. We've got those skill guys. We've just got to get that group up front working. So that's been a big challenge. Coach Kill's been great. He's been in there. He's been involved. He's trying to do his best to take some of that off me from the bigger picture so I can focus on getting that O-line squared away because it's amazing, once that gets worked out and gets back on track, then the other things will start to come again.

Q. Coach, what was the biggest difference for you guys offensively from the first two drives where you were able to run the ball and then once the running game kind of fell off. What changed in between those?
COACH LIMEGROVER: I think -- I don't want to oversimplify it, but when Joe Bjorklund went down, I think it was play 24 or 25, that was kind of a key point because then things start getting shuffled around. We had to put Foster Bush in there, who was just a week in to working over there at left guard, trying to get him ready to go just in case. That was kind of worst case scenario, getting him going there.

I'm not blaming it necessarily on Foster. That's a tough spot to put that kid in. He's actually done a nice job. I think that had a lot to do with it.

So hopefully, getting Jon Christenson back and Joe feeling healthy towards the end of the week, he now can maybe, if you get 80 plays in a ball game, you're getting 40 and 40 with those guys and going from there. So I think that was a big part of it.

I think their kids, the entire offense, I think those guys got frustrated with themselves. We were right at the edge of, even if you kick field goals in those first two drives, even if you get another eight to ten yards in those first two drives and kick field goals, we're pretty close to going into halftime winning 6-3. What a difference that made.

So Coach addressed that with the offense Sunday night about body language, and it's just that ball started rolling downhill in the wrong direction. I really believe, if there was a little bit on even one of those drives and now it's 3-3 and you have those points on the board, I think that demeanor kind of changes there.

So he talked to them a lot, didn't yell and scream, talked to them a lot about body language, demeanor, fighting back. The adverse circumstances. That was a big point of emphasis. We met in here as an offense and watched the film and said, okay, here's what happened. One guy didn't do his job, and here's look at what happened. And then it was a different guy and then a different guy.

So our kids responded well. We got a lot of positive feedback about it. We're pretty excited to go out today and get back going.

Q. Do you see kind of way you'd go to a quarterback rotation on any kind of regular basis?
COACH LIMEGROVER: At the end of the day, that's the two guys before me talking about that. That would be his decision, and then we'll go with it. In that regard, he tells us prepare the best game plan you can to beat Purdue. So that's what our challenge is. And then depending on how we're going to do it quarterback-wise, who that's going to be, some things maybe get pushed to the side, some things get emphasized a little bit more, but that base game plan is what we need to do, just like whoever our right tackle's going to be. There's a plan there. Then you take it, and you look at what the strengths are of the people that are going to be out there.

Q. Three points in the first quarter all season so far. I know you don't typically script players going into the game, is that right?
COACH LIMEGROVER: Yeah, we do, trying to get a feel for what they're going to do. It's been a struggle. It's hard. We're trying to find different ways before that ball is even kicked off to try to get those guys going a little bit because it's like there's a tentativeness to it. Some of that has come out of the couple of those opponents not knowing what was going on. But now you get to the point where now you do have a better idea. So that's all part of the confidence thing of, hey, let's go out, and let's get on this thing quickly.

We go through it. We script it out, and try and get those kids feeling good about things at times.

Q. So there's a straight script at the beginning?
COACH LIMEGROVER: Yeah. It's not something that's -- as with anything, it's not followed to the letter of the law type of thing. You got to come off it from time to time. Situation dictates it. So we do try and come off that.

But the idea is, okay, we've got these packages. We've got these formations that we want to use that we think are going to be good. But you'd be amazed at how many times teams will play you differently than they did maybe another opponent in the same formation or the same personnel grouping. So there's kind of that feeling out period that you try and get your best plays in that, your best chances of success in that, but you also are kind of looking for the bigger picture in the ball game.

Q. Back in Mitch's freshman year, he was brought along slowly a few plays in some of the nonconference games. What went into that decision, and how did he benefit from that?
COACH LIMEGROVER: Well, you never want to completely just throw a rookie into the fire and say, okay, here you go. That's a tough deal. That's a tough deal for any true freshman, and you try and work -- always try and work him in so it's not everything all at once.

We feel that way not just with Demry, per se, but Shannon Brooks, it wasn't going to be, hey, you're going to start this game or, hey, you're going to get 50 plays in this game, or what have you. You try and build that up slowly as you go. When you do that, then it doesn't overwhelm them.

Q. What can Mitch do mechanically to get back on track here?
COACH LIMEGROVER: You know what, I'm just going to tell you -- and the guys in my room know it -- it's not about Mitch. He's taken a beating. We've got to be better up front. We've got to help him because, when he's trying to throw, a lot of times there's things in his face. He's trying to make something happen.

Mitch is hanging in there. Mitch is fighting his tail end off, but we've got to give him a chance to be successful. Right now up front, the guys know it, we're not giving him that chance. That's unfortunate because, as I say all the time, Mitch is the quarterback. So he's going to get a lot of that.

But this isn't Mitch's fault in this case. There's got to be some accountability with the guys up front and the guy who's coaching them. We need to give Mitch a chance to do what he can do.

Q. When you look at that, it's easy now to look back at a zero point game and wonder, could you have done this and that, but just on the whole, it seemed pretty conservative a lot of the things you did. You had wind. You had a tight game early. But just not as many deep shots, a lot of runs on third down or short passes. Is there anything -- I know it's like second guessing, but just that you kind of look back?
COACH LIMEGROVER: You second guess when you score 40 points in a win. You look at things and go, boy, if I could have done this differently, if this would have happened. Things like there was constant communication with Coach and I as to the route we wanted to go on things. We knew that that was going to be a tight game. It was going to be a close game. So one of the things is you didn't want to take too many wild chances and turn the ball over, give them a chance to shorten the field or what have you.

You all saw what happened, unfortunately, with the punt. It's a 3-0 game, have the punt -- the same type of thing we were trying to avoid and trying to get away from is turning that ball over, is making -- trying to do too much in certain situations and actually putting ourselves further behind the eight ball.

So those first couple series, we get going a little bit more, and I think there's more of a looseness and the guys are feeling good, and that's when everything kind of starts rolling for you.

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