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October 27, 2015

Matt Limegrover

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Q. Coach, I don't know if you know Flip Saunders at all, but with losing him over the weekend, did you have a relationship with him or did anyone? And what kind of impression did he leave?
COACH LIMEGROVER: No, I kind of wish -- I know we talked about it as a staff yesterday with him being a former Gopher and everything and being an icon here in the city. But you talk about something that touches, you do the deal where you have people raise their hand in a room of who has been touched by cancer, and it's just unbelievable and really sad.

It kind of brought us all, in a couple of minutes we got introspective about how -- he's a young guy, you know, and that was pretty sad.

Q. Talk about the passing game off of what you did against Nebraska.
COACH LIMEGROVER: Well, you know what? I think you look at it every day. You say, hey, what did we do well and continue to build on that. What we did against Nebraska wasn't necessarily something that kind of came out of the blue and had been building up over time. Trying to cut away the things that maybe we can't protect well or maybe Mitch can't throw the routes well or maybe we weren't as good at.

When you start doing that, it's the idea of trimming the fat. Trimming the things away that aren't giving you a chance to be successful. So you start out the year, whether it's run or pass, all these great ideas, hey, we can do this. We saw so and so do this. As you go along and get into games and see how people are going to play you, new opponents maybe or different people, and you get into this is the identity this team has. This is the stuff that we do well.

And I think we're starting to get there in the pass game. We're really starting to find the stuff that I think Mitch feels very comfortable with, and being able to hone in on that kind of stuff.

Q. Doing really good in the third down and leading the nation. Does that start with being good on first down for you guys so you're not getting into 3rd and long?
COACH LIMEGROVER: Absolutely. We cut up everything. And you look at your third and mediums, and then you look at that third and long. There are more third and longs against opponents than there are third and mediums. And when you look at those, there is a fair amount of third and shorts, large amount of third and mediums, and a small amount of third and longs. I think it's probably the most percentage-wise of third and longs that we've seen of any opponent so far this year and maybe even last year.

So the key is you don't want to be in 3rd and 8, and 3rd and 10 against these guys. You don't want to against anybody, but you definitely want to make sure that you're staying on schedule to get it to where 3rd and 2, you've got a nice big grouping of plays that you can go to. 3rd and 9, it gets real small, and they know that as well, so they start zeroing in on you, and I think they do a nice job doing that.

Q. What kind of shape is your offensive line this week (No microphone)?
COACH LIMEGROVER: Not going to be able to play. That's a shame because he's given so much and it's frustrated him. Not going to be able to go.

But hopefully Brian Bobek continues to be on the mend. Hopefully we can get him back and add him into the mix. An older kid, stronger kid. The week off last week with the amount of practice we did has helped a couple of those seniors, Jon Christenson, and Joe Bjorklund, I knew they were moving around well on Sunday, and we need those guys.

So practice started on Sunday, got yesterday off and had spoken with both of them today, they both feel good and are ready to go. So that's encouraging for sure.

Q. What was different from a pass pro standpoint versus Purdue against Nebraska?
COACH LIMEGROVER: Just the different things we did. We moved the pocket a little bit more against Nebraska. So we were able to get Mitch on the move some more. Maybe kept an extra tight end in at times to help with some of that and give our tackles a little bit of a breather. I think throwing more on first down helped us.

That's when the rush is going to be the least -- and answering Skip's question or Chip, excuse me, Chip's question, when they know it's 3rd and 10, they can pin their ears back. It makes it very tough on you. When it's 1st and 10, and they've got to play the run and those types of things. When you can throw effectively, then you're going to have your best protection, and you're going to have your best opportunity to hit things. So I think that was a big key for us.

Q. (No microphone)?
COACH LIMEGROVER: Keep going. Yeah, there's one more, and then I've got to figure out that part. Just I tell you what, they are extremely well-coached. I think what their coaches have done is they've said here's what we're going to do. We're going to do it well, and you're going to play like your hair is on fire, and they play hard. I mean, they play a lot harder than they did last year. That's a testament to the coaching staff, those defensive coaches, because they had good players last year. I don't think they always played hard, but now they play hard.

They're doing what our defense does from the standpoint of they play a lot of different guys. They'll roll through six, seven, eight defensive linemen. So when a kid's in there that's a quote-unquote backup, he's playing as hard as they can for however many plays they have him in there. If he's tired, they see him tapping his helmet and that starter comes back in, and vice versa. I think that's a huge key for them.

They have some players that are pretty special individual players, but the thing that strikes me is just as a group how hard they play and how they go and they chase the football. You'll see someone else come rolling in, and he'll play just as hard for as long as he can.

Q. What was the X-factor when a team loses a game like they did two weeks ago? How do you guys account for that or try to work that into the game plan or the formula that you anticipate when something happens like that?
COACH LIMEGROVER: Well, we're going to try to make them punt as much as possible. No, you know what? I think they've had the week off. They've been able to wash it out of their mouths, and I think they're going to be ready to go. They've got a lot of motivation coming in.

Then the same thing for us. We could take Nebraska, we could get through it, we can learn from it and move forward. So I think that anything in that realm would be more asked of their coaches, because I think it's all about us and it's all about us being prepared to go out and to do things, the little things we need to right at the beginning of the game to kind of tilt that thing in our favor. External factors taken out of the equation.

Q. Now that Demry has the red-shirt off, and Mitch has been playing really well since that day. How concerned are you, I guess, about Demry's development if things continue at this rate?
COACH LIMEGROVER: Well, I think probably the biggest thing with that is that Demry is our No. 2 quarterback right now, so the amount of reps that he's getting with regards to practice -- and to be honest with you, we wanted to use him in the Nebraska game. But there wasn't a point in time where we felt like, okay, this is the right time to do it.

Then that's always the challenge. That's a challenge with any freshman you have. But particularly to me it's centering at quarterback. It's tough, because those are a couple key positions as far as everything getting done on offense. I would have loved to have played Tyler Moore before I "had to" with Brian Bobek going down at center. But that's a tough transition to make. But that's something that you want to get involved with that.

So one of the things that we're working on this week is having some things where we can get them revolved. If Mitch continues, it's hard, it's hard to pull a guy out when you feel like there are things that are going right. But we've got to make sure that we have the plan in place and feel comfortable doing that when the time basically presents itself.

Q. Your two backs refreshed from the week off?
COACH LIMEGROVER: Yeah, yeah. They're ready to go. They were actually fairly beat up heading into Nebraska. So coach did a great thing. We didn't -- other than them getting in and doing some lifting, we didn't do anything with them until Wednesday. Even Wednesday and Thursday we're were not real heavy duty days. It was light work, keep your timing type of thing.

That is the one thing that I noticed was we had real good zip in our step come Sunday. Everybody was hustling around, moving around. That is the great thing about the off week. Not only do you get healed up and rested up, but you get an extra day or two to start implementing your game plan and having the guys work it. We were very fortunate Sunday was a great day and really felt like we got a lot done.

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