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November 9, 2015

Kevin Wilson

Bloomington, Indiana

COACH WILSON: Back to game recap.

Michael Cooper, Jordan Howard, offensive players of the game. Marcus Oliver, Chase Dutra defense. Ben Bach was our special teams. He showed up on two of our kicking teams very well. We gave our special teams player to Ben Bach.

Scouts, Camion Patrick, who has showed up I think about every week now in a row is doing an outstanding job, going to be an awesome player. Marqui Hawkins, good to see Marqui doing well, too, a guy that was kind of in the mix, kind of coming along, not quite there yet but doing great.

Defensively, Jake Attar, one of our new walk-ons, Raekwon Jones. That's about three or four times for Raekwon. Good work for those guys.

At this point with the loss and the outcome in that last game, got to appreciate the effort and proud of the way the guys played, prepared, staff, coaches, all that kind of stuff.

Players, thought it was a well-played game if you look at it. Had a solid rush day, 227, 5.4 against a team that's top five in the country. Had two rush TDs. They allowed one the first eight games. Nice to see against a team. So nice to have Jordan, the run game, all the offensive line we graded very well. The tight end play, the tight end play has been very well. The running game has been very, very well. Everybody always says it's the O-line, but those tight ends are critical to that. Again, Michael was awesome.

Kicking was pretty good. We were 41.8 punting, they were 41.6. I think we had 227 rushing, they had 234. I think they were seven of 14 on third downs. By the time you do our fourth down conversions we were 10 of 17. Two of those third downs act as conversions when you get them on fourth down. Not 10 of 19, it is actually 10 of 17. We both had seven times we didn't convert.

Our third down, defensive shutout again. We had a fourth down score stop. We stopped them fourth down on the 36. Our second quarter stops and kicks led to offensive points, which was great. Thought we played better as a team across the board. Still wasn't good enough for victory, but thought OD and kicking complemented better than previously.

Fourth quarter, which you guys want to make a story of, we make stories of penalties, we had three the other day, right? One was hands to the face, one was a bang-bang call, one was a kid not getting off the field.

Fourth quarter we got outscored 14 to 10. When you are down 15 and you get a three-and-out stop and you go down and score and you on-side kick. To say there's no fight or whatever in the team, they just came up a couple plays short. I thought fourth down was better, although we were outscored 14 to 10.

You go back and look at it, no fumbles, no sacks. The one interception in the fourth quarter. The game comes down, their points are a 65-yard touchdown run, we give up a third-and-11, third-and-10, third-and-nine, third-and-six on four touchdown drives.

We've gotten the team where not everything has to be perfect, but you're down to making the play, a play, and it could be first half, lead draw there the second play of the game.

We go three-and-out and get a field goal. Defensively goes three-and-out, we get a field goal. They go three-and-out, we get a touchdown. They go three-and-out, we get a touchdown. They go three-and-out, we get a field goal. They go three-and-out, we get a touchdown. When we played complementary ball, we were pretty good.

Turnover ratio is minus one. We didn't create a turnover. Turnover thing, defensively has gotten, we played some solid teams, but needs to pick up. No sacks. Quarterback pressure needs to pick up. No third quarter points. End of the day they were 4-4 for touchdowns in the scoring zone, we were 1-3. You take those two three points add up to six, two touchdowns it's 14. There's your eight-point differential.

Their scores on stops, our lack of execution, their offensive scores on execution, our lack of stops. Pretty good game.

Appreciate the way we played. Another great challenge with Michigan. They're 7-2, top 15. They're playing well. Another great challenge. Our guys are excited to prep and play. Expect another strong crowd to help us and be fired up out there for the guys Senior Day. Got some guys I think that have played well. Again, getting into some games with another great opponent. If we play well, we have a chance for a strong outcome.

But Michigan is playing very, very good football. We're going to have to find all three phases to contribute against what is a really, really good football team as we finish the home slate with three to go.


Q. Some of the guys came in here in practice gear. Did you practice?
COACH WILSON: We practiced. Give them a day off. Typically it's been Monday. As we went through, we decided this week we're going to give them a day off at the end of the week from the physical side. It kind of jump-starts Michigan. We do our Sunday work the way we do it. We actually didn't practice yesterday, which a lot of times we would. But then we kind of went out today to start Michigan. We'll give them an off day I think probably Thursday. We'll have a jump now.

We always change lifting practice, mode, length, emphasis. We've changed as the years went along subtly. We talked about this last week. Just think our guys are really putting a great deal of effort in the prep. They're putting a great deal of effort on the game. That being said, we need to be smart in how we're practicing.

Just a subtle little tweak to jump Michigan and maybe not be as heavy on the back end with them.

That being said, we challenged them. We need better prep early in the week. Some of those things you want to make up at the end with those last-minute walk-throughs, you're losing. We'll see how it goes.

We talked about it a week ago. These kids that worked hard, you just don't want to lose them physically or psychologically down the stretch here. It was a little bit of the thought process. One-hour light practice and we lifted weights.

Q. We talked to Nate about this being his last home game. You coached some very good quarterbacks. Not necessarily to compare them, are there some traits you see in him that mirror some of the traits you coached in the past?
COACH WILSON: I think, again, his intelligence, arm strength, decision making, size comparable to some guys. At the same time I think Nate is still, even though it's his last home game, he's a young quarterback that has so much improvement that he can make.

Splitting time early, the injury he had last year. He's probably played about half his career. That being said, he was coached very hard today to keep getting better. I think his best is in front of him. Whether it be making the competitive plays, getting us into the end zone. He has some stats that are nice, but I think ultimately he is going to be judged by success and victory. I think he can be one of the guys that help us finish strong.

So appreciate the way he's played. He's very, very good. But to me his best is I hope way out in front of him. He needs to have a good one this week as we finish the season.

Q. The difference that Michigan is now from last year? There's been a coaching change. Especially the way they play defense, so dominant this year. What has been the difference?
COACH WILSON: Well, I think, one, they've not been far off now. They got 10 guys, starters back from last year. They were last year, what, top two, three, four in most defensive stats. Prideful team.

I think as probably they've cleaned up their offense, there's probably more team unity, team synergy, where I think last year it was some of their issues. The way they played offensively they struggled, took the air out of the team, the defense.

I think as the offense has gotten cleaner, played solid over there, playing solid football, winning football, they're different, but they're similar to Iowa. They've got it going in all three phases and complementing each other.

They're good in many areas, but the defensive strength, it was a really good defense, now it's being complemented the way the offense is playing.

They're taking care of the football. They've got nice balance on offense, kicking it well. All of that is helping the defense play great.

Q. Jordan Howard, with the rush defense with Michigan, what kind of a challenge does that present to Jordan specifically trying to replicate that kind of performance?
COACH WILSON: Well, whether it be the stats, the numbers, and they've played some good football teams, too, now. Look at some of their victories, wins. I mean, to me it's tough running every week. It's a mindset. There's some strategy. There's some things you're doing to help it.

But we've got to find a way to do it. If you get one-dimensional against a great football team, it's going to be tough. Last week, our run game was decent against a good Iowa run defense, but our pass game was not quite up to snuff. I think that's where some of those complementary groups, that tight end group is key to what's going on.

The quarterback, Nate's decision of when to spin it out on some of those run-pass deals, when to hand it. If you're not confident, you're handing it in the loaded box. There's actually better odds outside. Sometimes you get a little greedy, you should have handed it.

There is a lot of back and forth. But you have to run the football as a team. They play great team run defense. We're going to try to put the plan together to win, but they're going to be hard to run on.

Q. New quarterback at Michigan. Threw for 337 against Rutgers. What have you seen from him coming into a new situation?
COACH WILSON: I think the first game they struggled. They had a couple interceptions, maybe one for a pick six. Might have been the balance of that one loss. They basically had victory in hand in their other loss.

He's kind of played winning football since the first. That goes back to Coach Harbaugh and his pedigree as a quarterback. They do a great job. They use multiple tight ends, do a good job of personnel running the ball, protecting the quarterback, getting one-on-ones.

He's a veteran player in a really good system. He's getting some great coaching on how to play the game. Playing it well. Playing it very well.

Q. (Question about Senior Day.)
COACH WILSON: You want to win every game. I just have seen to me a lot of kids have put in a significant amount of energy, effort, time. A lot of guys 'go to work'. But to build the program, for me to build it here, it takes a great deal of energy. We've relied on some of those guys. Some of my concern, frustration, you selfishly want those guys to get victory, more than we've gotten. That comes back on me, the ability to get that job done.

It's a good group. There's so much football to play. Not all teary-eyed and emotional. Getting to the point it's kind of neat now. If you go downstairs, you see Teddy walking around, he's doing an internship. Stephen Houston is back, signed and playing in Canada. The last two weeks got picked up by somebody, Toronto. Who was it? Shane Wynn was around. He got picked up last week. I got a text, Dave Murphy's new contact number. I know they're always going to be around, always welcome.

We started several weeks ago. It's not just the seniors, it's the '15 team. You want them to go as long as they can. You want to push for the victory, for the bowl experience. You want to go through the holiday season before you translate into the '16 crowd.

These guys have been unbelievable in what they've done every day. It's our job as coaches to keep pushing all of us, me included, to do better, more energy and more prep and better prep to get to where we need to.

To me we've gotten to where close is one thing, but we don't need everything to go right. Now we need a play or two. Keep pushing everybody to find that play or two. Might be early, fitting a run play early on the first drive, might be better red zone scoring on the first drive. You name it. You're getting down to a play or two.

We're going to keep fighting. We need to get more of those plays or two. We don't like losing close, we don't like winning close. We like winning big.

These guys have given a lot. I've tried to take the greedy part out of things. But I want these kids to experience success because I know the effort, energy, the true energy they've given our program. It's been very impressive. Very proud of that group.

Q. We talked so much at the beginning of the season about turnover margin. A lot of guys different making plays, interceptions, fumbles across the board. What has been happening to get some of those turnovers? One in the last three games.
COACH WILSON: With our play that we've worn down, we're not getting pressure on the quarterback. Got a little bit too much time. Again, we kind of keep looking systematically, you want to tweak some things. Also you better be careful. I think open dates showed us defensively maybe we were doing too much. Too many variables. What are you going to hang your hat on that gives you a chance structurally?

One thing to say this is one thing I know or do, but can the kid do it? Are you going to be attacked, all that deal.

Again, we need some pressure on the quarterback, especially when you have third-and-nine, third-and-10, third-and-11. Because to me, you have to cancel the run. Michigan is going to do a great job of running the football. You have to razz the quarterback. At Wake Forest we did, got after him quite a bit. Since that time there hasn't been quite as much.

Q. (No microphone.)
COACH WILSON: I haven't asked in practicing this morning. Because it was a first-half deal, first and second half has been served. I'll verify that for sure.

Thank you.

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